Jim Slater’s wrist injury may be more serious than originally thought. The center has been limited to skating drills for much of training camp and continues to be listed as day-to-day.
Following Saturday’s morning skate, in preparation for the exhibition game against Carolina, coach Craig Ramsay said the team is still unsure of the exact nature of the injury.
“They are still trying to figure out exactly what is wrong with it,” Ramsay said. “They’ve had a couple different opinions on what it is and they are trying to sort that out. I’m staying away from that as far as I possibly can. I know [general manager] Rick [Dudley] is trying to get it done. Our trainers are trying to get it done. We want to figure it out as quickly as possible. So far there have been some different ideas about what is wrong. He doesn’t want to rush into anything too. He wants to make sure it’s done right.”
Slater’s injury and the rehab of Nik Antropov leaves the Thrashers with a lack of centers. Rich Peverley has moved back to center and Chris Thorburn will get a game at the position against Carolina. Thorburn will center a line with Ben Eager on his left and Anthony Stewart on his right. Antropov is recovering from offseason hip surgery.
“We don’t know when Nik might be able to play a game,” Ramsay said. “He’s practicing pretty hard and he’s trying but we don’t want to force that issue. We are trying Thorburn at center tonight and see how he does. We have a lot of his confidence in his ability to play. That line tonight, if they do the little things we are talking about, they could be very difficult to play against and there is no reason they can’t score on top of that. How’d you like to look up and see these big guys coming down on you? It could be a long miserable night [for the opposition].”
The status of Antropov and Slater, and the injury to Patrice Cormier, is getting first-round draft pick Alexander Burmistrov a long look during training camp. Ramsay would not say if Burmistrov would play all the exhibition games, but it’s clear they want to see if he can adapt to the NHL level.
“I have vague recollections of being a young player and it can be a bit overwhelming,” Ramsay said. “His attitude is so wonderful. He’s happy to be here and he’s such a great worker. He needs to see what it’s like. You go against a guy who is 6 foot 4 it’s a heck of a lot different game then he’s been playing. Especially because that 6 foot 4 guy can get around the ice pretty darn good. He’s got to figure that out. We need him to move the puck quicker.”
As a final note, Chris Mason will play in goal the entire game tonight. Ramsay said the Thrashers will alternate between Mason and Ondrej Pavelec during exhibition games. Peter Mannino and Drew McIntyre will not start the season in Atlanta and Ramsay said games will be used to evaluate the NHL goaltending.
“We think it should be a strength of our team,” Ramsay said of the goaltending. “ That’s what we are looking to find out. … We’ve got to see the guys play. That’s the most important thing right now, to make some decisions quickly if you can. They don’t all work and sometimes you have to make adjustments but, for now, we want to see these guys play.”
Here are the lines and pairings for tonight’s game: