The Thrashers trimmed their roster by four players following Monday’s practice as forwards Fredrik Pettersson and Patrick Rissmiller and defensemen Arturs Kulda and Andrey Zubarev were released.
Pettersson, Kulda and Zubarev can be sent to AHL Chicago without go through waivers. Rissmiller, acquired in the offseason trade with the New York Rangers for Todd White, will make $1 million next season even if he plays in the AHL.
The moves trim the roster to 25 players but that includes prospect Andrew Kozek who is recovering from surgery. Once a move is made with Kozek, the Thrashers need only trim one more player by the 3 p.m. Wednesday deadline to get to a maximum of 23 players. They could trim another to get down to 22, which would give them one extra forward and one extra defenseman. However with Jim Slater currently unable to participate in all drills as he battles a wrist injury he figures to be the second extra forward if not placed on injured reserve.
The final spot likely comes down to one blueliner – with the remaining players fighting for the spot being Boris Valabik and Freddy Meyer. Valabik the former 10th overall draft pick of the Thrashers, played in just one exhibition game. Meyer played in four exhibition games with two goals and a plus-4 rating. Each player would have to clear waivers if released before they could go to AHL.
It appears that Alexander Burmistrov, the team’s first-round pick in this year’s draft, will get at least a 10-game look. Burmistrov can be sent to juniors at any time, but if it’s after 10 games the clock starts on a pro contract. It also appears the Anthony Stewart has earned an initial spot on the team. Stewart, a former first-round pick of Florida, spent all last season in the AHL. Nigel Dawes, signed as a free-agent late in the offseason, is still on the roster after scoring two preseason goals.
The roster currently looks like this:
Forwards (14): Nik Antropov, Niclas Bergfors, Eric Boulton, Alexander Burmistrov, Nigel Dawes, Ben Eager, Evander Kane, Andrew Ladd, Bryan Little, Fredrik Modin, Rich Peverley, Jim Slater, Anthony Stewart, Chris Thorburn
Defensemen (8): Zach Bogosian, Dustin Byfuglien, Tobias Enstrom, Ron Hainsey, Johnny Oduya, Brent Sopel, Meyer and Valabik
Goaltenders (2): Chris Mason, Ondrej Pavelec
Dustin Byfuglien, who missed several practices and did not appear in the final two preseason games, skated in Monday’s practice. He reported feeling no ill effects of the ankle injury that has hampered him. He was one of several players that had X-rays Monday prior to practice and cuts. Coach Craig Ramsay would not reveal what players also had X-rays. Slater skated, but did not participate in all drills. He went through a rigorous pre-practice workout.
Here are the line combinations from the practice prior to the cuts.
The cuts were made following practice and interviews so I will have to wait until Tuesday to find out why Pettersson, who is on a two-way contract, was sent to the AHL. He was impressive during training camp and had a goal and an assist during exhibition games.
Who is your guess for who gets the final spot on defense?