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Thrashers general manager has met with Chicago Blackhawks assistant coach John Torchetti to discuss the team’s vacant head coach position.
Torchetti is considered one of two leading candidates for the position, along with Boston Bruins assistant Craig Ramsay. Torchetti is the fourth person Dudley has spoken to about the job – along with Scott Arniel (Columbus), Don Lever and Ramsay.
My understanding is that a hire is not imminent as Dudley is preparing for the NHL draft and will soon leave for Los Angeles, where the draft will be held Friday and Saturday.
I’m preparing some stories for the upcoming NHL draft and, as promised, said would share some more excerpts from my wide-ranging interview with Dudley last week.
Here is what he said about some of the young players in the organization that might not be so far away from the NHL.
“We love people like [Carl] Klingberg and [Jeremy] Morin — within the next couple of years,” Dudley said. “Morin is a miserable SOB who is a pure goal scorer. They don’t come along easily. Klingberg is a guy that we really, really like. [Patrice] Cormier is the player that everybody wants because he’s a big guy and he’s nasty and he can play. Those things fit in really well.”
Morin had 83 points (47 goals, 36 assists) in 58 games for the Kitchener Rangers of the OHL last season. He missed several games will competing for Team USA at the World Junior Championships. Dudley told me that the Thrashers are having Morin work with a skating instructor.
“Jeremy is not an efficient skater,” Dudley said. “He’s got speed but he’s not an efficient skater so if he plays back-to-back games, he gets tired. If he improves that just a little bit, he could play pretty soon.”
According to Dudley, Arturs Kulda and Paul Postma are not far away either.
“Look at the defense,” he said. “You have a guy like Kulda who played well when he came up last year. He’s a strong kid. Postma he’s got 80-some points in junior as a defenseman. He scored 15 goals last year in the American Hockey League and he’s a kid. It’s not beyond the realm of possibility that he could help us in the near future. I think we have a lot of assets.
“And we have two first-round picks this year. The first-round picks you can’t really count on to help us this year.”
However, it appears Cormier is the closest. Dudley said it’s not a stretch that he could be in a Thrashers uniform next season.
“If Cormier plays they way he’s capable of playing, and you never know where a kid’s career is headed after junior hockey, my guess he becomes the second- or third-line center that everyone wants,” Dudley said. “He’s mean. He’s mean and I’m not saying that because of the elbow he threw. [Cormier was suspended for an elbow this season and faces criminal chargers] He was the captain of the World Junior team, he can score and he’s a [pain] to play against.”
Let me know if you have thoughts — and I’m sure you do — about whom the Thrashers will pick at No. 8.
UPDATE: Just got the list of home openers for the NHL’s 2010-11 season. The Thrashers will open at home on Friday, Oct. 8th against Washington. From the rest of the team’s home openers we can piece together that the Thrashers will play in Tampa Bay on Saturday, Oct. 9, in Los Angeles on Tuesday, Oct. 12 and in San Jose on Saturday, Oct. 16.
Entire NHL schedule is released on noon Tuesday.
Here’s the list of each team’s home opener:
ANAHEIM – Wednesday, Oct. 13, Vancouver.
ATLANTA – Friday, Oct. 8, Washington.
BOSTON – Thursday, Oct. 21, Washington.
BUFFALO – Saturday, Oct. 9, NY Rangers.
CALGARY – Sunday, Oct. 10, Los Angeles.
CAROLINA – Wednesday, Oct. 27, Washington.
CHICAGO – Saturday, Oct. 9, Detroit.
COLORADO – Thursday, Oct. 7, Chicago.
COLUMBUS – Friday, Oct. 15, Chicago.
DALLAS – Thursday, Oct. 14, Detroit.
DETROIT – Friday, Oct. 8, Anaheim.
EDMONTON – Thursday, Oct. 7, Calgary.
FLORIDA – Saturday, Oct. 16, Tampa Bay.
LOS ANGELES – Tuesday, Oct. 12, Atlanta.
MINNESOTA – Thursday, Oct. 14, Edmonton.
MONTREAL – Wednesday, Oct. 13, Tampa Bay.
NASHVILLE – Saturday, Oct. 9, Anaheim.
NEW JERSEY – Friday, Oct. 8, Dallas.
NY ISLANDERS – Saturday, Oct. 9, Dallas.
NY RANGERS – Friday, Oct. 15, Toronto.
OTTAWA – Friday, Oct. 8, Buffalo.
PHILADELPHIA – Monday, Oct. 11, Colorado.
PHOENIX – Saturday, Oct. 16, Detroit.
PITTSBURGH – Thursday, Oct. 7, Philadelphia.
ST. LOUIS – Saturday, Oct. 9, Philadelphia.
SAN JOSE – Saturday, Oct. 16, Atlanta.
TAMPA BAY – Saturday, Oct. 9, Atlanta.
TORONTO – Thursday, Oct. 7, Montreal.
VANCOUVER – Saturday, Oct. 9, Los Angeles.
WASHINGTON – Saturday, Oct. 9, New Jersey.