The Thrashers waived forward Nigel Dawes on Thursday, trimming the roster to 22 active players.
Dawes signed a two-way contract ($600,000 over $105,000) with the Thrashers in September just before the start of training camp. If Dawes clears waivers by noon Friday, he can be assigned to AHL Chicago.
Dawes appeared in all six games this season without a point. He did give the Thrashers a victory with a shootout goal in last Friday’s win in Anaheim. He was a minus-6.
“I hope he gets through [waivers] and I hope we have a chance to have him back,” Thrashers coach Craig Ramsay said. “I like Nigel. I like the way he had a good training camp. Pucks didn’t go in. In this day and age it becomes difficult for all of us. Nigel gave us a good effort. It’s very unfortunate with the circumstances of salary caps and rosters that it had to happen. He’s a good person. He tried to do everything I asked from him.”
General manager Rick Dudley told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution last week that it was his intention to carry 13 forwards. The team had 14 forwards after Jim Slater was activated from the injured list last week.
Dawes had 32 points for Calgary last season. In 205 NHL games he has 83 points.
“Smaller is better,” Ramsay said of the roster size. “It is difficult. He knew when he came in what the situation was. I have no doubt he’ll be back. If it’s not here, it will be somewhere else. I think the boy can play.”
The move appears to clear the way for Niclas Bergfors to return to the lineup on a regular basis. Bergfors has been a healthy scratch in two of the past three games.
No rest for Mason
Ramsay indicated following Thursday’s practice that goaltender Chris Mason would likely start both of the upcoming back-to-back games, Friday vs. Tampa Bay and Saturday at Washington.
Mason has played all but 2:25 of the six games this season after Ondrej Pavelec lost consciousness and collapsed in the season opener. Mason is third in the NHL in minutes for goaltenders at 360:13. He trails only Anaheim’s Jonas Hiller (399:30, seven games) and Chicago’s Marty Turco (371:19, six games).
They have not been easy minutes for Mason. The goaltender has faced 122 shots in the past three games alone. He is second in the NHL in saves with 223, trailing only Hiller (257).
Ramsay said his team needs to control the puck and spend more time in its offensive zone to take the pressure of Mason.
“Yeah,” Ramsay said when asked if it was tough on Mason carrying the load. “It is especially this time of year. You don’t want to do that if you don’t have to. I was hoping that we would be bouncing our goalies around and getting everybody to play. … He can do it, but it would be a lot easier if we could hold on to the puck more. We are now playing two teams that are very good when they get their hands on it. There are no easy games anymore, but we are playing teams that are pretty nifty if you turn over the puck.”
The Thrashers have Peter Mannino as their backup goaltender, but he has just three NHL games of experience.
Mason participated in half the team’s practice Thursday as a measure to get him some rest.
Here are the practice lines:
Dustin Byfuglien is not at practice. Just a day off I’m told.
Chris Mason took part in the first part of practice and then left. He has been busy carrying all the goaltending duties of late and figures to be so on Friday and Saturday.