Archive for August, 2010

Antropov rehab continues, hopes to be ready by training camp

As promised, here is the update on Nik Antropov leftover from Thursday’s trip to the Thrashers practice facility.

Antropov started skating last Tuesday as he recovers from offseason hip surgery. He said he hopes to be ready by the start of training camp next month.

“Slowly but surely,” Antropov said of the rehab process after taking part in a voluntary workout on Thursday. “I have been doing rehab all summer, since day one. Last week, for the first time, [I started skating].

“I hope [to be ready by training camp]. Hopefully, yes, but maybe two or three days after. We have to wait and see how it reacts. Every day is a new day for me.”

Antropov would not reveal the exact nature of the surgery to fix the injury that plagued him for part of the season. It ended his year with two games remaining after the Thrashers had been eliminated from playoff contention.

“You’ll have to ask the doctors,” he said. “It was something about fixing the cartilage.”

The rehab …

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Will Byfuglien switch to defense?

A ton of newsy items from my trip to the Thrashers practice facility Thursday to watch voluntary workout. I won’t bury the lead.

According to general manager Rick Dudley, it is a very real possibility that newly acquired Dustin Byfuglien could play defense next season. Here is the part of my interview with the GM on the subject.

Q. It appears the defense is close to being set with several players, like Arturs Kulda, competing for final spot. Would that be a fair statement?

A. I think Kulda has a chance to challenge for regular duty – as do some other people. A lot of it depends on what we do with Dustin [Byfuglien]. If we decide to play him at defense, it’s a much more difficult defense to make. If we decide to play him at forward, there is some room. A lot of that will depend on the people. If we have a guy that looks pretty good – like I look at [Alexey] Zubarev, he’s a pretty talented guy; same thing with Kulda and Freddy Meyers is a guy that’s proven can play …

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With new hat, Mason sets about settling in Thrashers goal

The first thing Chris Mason did after signing with the Thrashers as a free agent was buy a piece of team merchandise.

A new hat was in order. The goaltender immediately put the lid on his shaved head after an on-ice workout last week with some of his new teammates at the Thrashers practice facility.

“You have to change your allegiance,” said Mason, who spent the past two seasons with St. Louis after stints with Nashville and Florida. The 34-year-old signed a two-year contract as an unrestricted free agent on July 1.

Mason took up temporary housing upon arriving in town early last season, eager to get to work and get to know his new teammates. Mason, who dresses in the stall once occupied by Johan Hedberg, is one of several key off-season acquisitions by the Thrashers.

“I think it takes a little time,” Mason said of getting acclimated to a new locker room. “There are a lot of us in the same situation. Basically, you have to come in and be yourself. Hockey guys are …

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Updated: Valabik knows the importance of upcoming season

Boris Valabik is skating and feeling good – and that’s a big deal.

The Thrashers defenseman was limited to 23 games last season that started with an ankle injury and ended with a torn ACL in his left knee.

“I feel good and I feel confident,” Valabik said last week. “I really hope to stay healthy this year. Enough is enough.”

Valabik, the Thrashers first-round pick (No. 10 overall) in 2004, missed the first 16 games of the season after injuring his ankle in training camp. His season abruptly ended in February when he tore his knee ligament in a game at Washington. He knows the importance of the upcoming season, which will be his third full year in the NHL.

“I need to feel confident in order to play well,” Valabik said. “In order to feel confident I need to play. It’s a vicious circle. My first year, I didn’t feel confident – new guys, new team, new league. My second year, last year, I played well when I was healthy and I felt really good when I was …

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Updated: Thrashers re-sign Little

As I told you Friday, the Thrashers were close to re-signing forward Bryan Little. The deal is now official.  Here are the details:

The Thrashers re-signed restricted free agent Bryan Little to a three-year contract worth $7.15 million on Monday. The deal will pay Little $1.65 million this season, $2.5 million in 2011-12 and $3 million in 2012-13.

The Thrashers made Little a qualifying offer in June. The team made re-signing Little, and its other restricted free agent Niclas Bergfors, a priority over the last several weeks.

Little, 22, told the AJC on Friday that he was close to signing a new contract and was looking forward to putting that business behind him and concentrating on the upcoming season.

“It’s probably the most excited I’ve been for a new season to start,” Little said Friday. “I’m excited about the new guys. Anyone who’s been here the last couple years and been through the disappointing seasons is really looking forward to this one.”

Little, a …

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Looks like Thrashers close to deals with Little, Zubarev

Stopped by the Thrashers practice facility in Duluth on Friday to watch a little of an informal skate and talk to a few players about their offseason. It will be enough material for some fresh blogs after the weekend (more on that later).

I talked to Bryan Little and one of the things we talked spoke about was his contract. The Thrashers made him a qualifying offer this offseason and I’ve been told that re-signing him, and Niclas Bergfors, were next on the team’s priority list. It sounds like they are close on a deal with Little. This is what he told me: “I’m letting my agent handle that, like everyone else does, I’m just worried about the season. It’s looking like it hopefully is going to be done pretty soon and I can start concentrating on this year. It would be nice to have it done as soon as possible. No matter how much you want to concentrate on the season its still in the back of your head that it’s not taken care of. I know it’s going to be pretty soon so I’m not …

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Thrashers name Malarchuk as goaltender consultant

The Thrashers named Clint Malarchuk as goaltending consultant on Thursday, completing the team’s new coaching staff. Malarchuk, who played 10 NHL seasons, joins head coach Craig Ramsay, associate coach John Torchetti and assistant coach Mike Strothers hired this offseason.

Malarchuk, 49, is known for the gruesome life-threatening injury suffered while playing for Buffalo in 1989. In a March 22 game against St. Louis, his throat was cut by the stake of the Blues’ Steve Tuttle, severing his internal carotid artery. He returned a week later and spent parts of three more seasons with the Sabres after the injury. He retired from hockey in 1996 after five seasons in the IHL. Malarchuk also played for Quebec, which drafted him in 1981 (No. 74), and Washington. He compiled a career record of 141-130-45 with 12 shutouts and a 3.47 goals-against average and .885 save percentage.

During three of his seasons in Buffalo, 1989-92, Malarchuk was coached by current Thrashers general …

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Updated: Thrashers sign defenseman Meyer

We interrupt this vacation to bring you some news from the Thrashers.

The Thrashers signed unrestricted free agent defenseman Freddy Meyer to a two-way contract on Thursday.

Meyer, 29, spent the past three seasons with the New York Islanders. He appeared in a career-high 64 games last season with 15 points (four goals, 11 assists). Meyer, 5-foot-10, 195 pounds, has also played for Philadelphia and Phoenix. An All-American at Boston University, Meyer was undrafted and signed by the Flyers in 2003.

Meyer’s two-way deal will pay him $500,000 at the NHL level and $105,000 at the AHL level.

In 266 career NHL games, Meyer’s had 71 points (19 goals, 52 assists) with 147 penalty minutes. He was part of the Philadelphia Phantoms that won the Calder Cup title in 2004-05.

A native of Sanbornville, New Hampshire, Meyer played on the National Team Development Program. He has also represented the United States at the 2006 World Championships, 2001 World Junior Championships and the …

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Bigger buzz in Atlanta over Thrashers or Hawks?

I had an interview with Thrashers president Don Waddell on Tuesday for another installation in my Catching Up With … summer series (that is scheduled to run on Monday).

One of the interesting things he said was that there is a big buzz in the city right now about the Thrashers with the trades, free-agent signings, new coaching staff and move of Rick Dudley to general manager. “Right now, we have a good awareness in the city with the Thrashers,” Waddell said. “…  Everything has been real positive so we want to make sure we capitalize on this buzz right now on the Thrashers side. We are seeing it. Our season tickets are up over last year at this point. Our renewals are way up over last year. You have to try to capitalize whenever you have these opportunities.”

That got me thinking. The Hawks made the playoffs for three straight years, advancing to the second round this season. The Thrashers, while undergoing significant roster and management changes this offseason, have missed …

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Updated: Thrashers trade White to Rangers

The Thrashers traded forward Todd White to the New York Rangers on Monday in exchange for forwards Donald Brashear and Patrick Rissmiller. The Thrashers placed Brashear on waivers and intend to buyout the remaining $1.3 million on his contract.

White will make $2.6 million this season, the final of a four-year deal work a total of $9.5 million he signed with the Thrashers.

“I’m excited to be going to New York,” White told me. “It’s a great opportunity and a great team and I think I can add a lot.”

It was an injury-plagued season for White, who missed the last eight games of the season and underwent surgery to repair a dislocated shoulder and torn labrum. He also suffered two knee dislocations during the season. In 65 games, he had 26 points (seven goals, 19 assists).

“I enjoyed by time in Atlanta,” White said. “My kids were sad to find out today we wouldn’t be going back. The team is moving in the right direction and I’m a little disappointed I won’t be a part of it. I’m …

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