The Thrashers have begun preliminary contract extension talks with several players, including Dustin Byfuglien and Andrew Ladd, according to Rick Dudley. The Thrashers general manager sat down with beat writer Chris Vivlamore for an interview Friday.
Q. At the quarter point of the season, we talked about the possibility of the team opening contract talks with Dustin Byfuglien and Andrew Ladd. Where do you stand in that regard?
A. I would say this, we are in the preliminary stages. We are very early in the process. Have we talked to people? Yes. We have with a number of players who at this point in time we would like to get something done.
Q. Would Byfuglien and Ladd be among those players?
A. That would be fair to say.
Q. Why did you sign free-agent Tim Stapleton with other players available in your minor-league system?
A. We signed Stapleton because we thought, at the very least, he was an excellent depth player. He was on our roster. Almost simultaneously we had an injury. He’s a high-skilled player who can really skate. We wanted to give the coaches a chance to see him. And they did. And they liked him. They now know, when we bring him up, they know exactly what they are getting.
Q. So Stapleton’s signing and stints with Thrashers do not reflect negatively on a player like Spencer Machacek?
A. Absolutely. Nothing like that. To be honest with you, you mention a guy like Spencer. He’s a guy that if we need a guy to fill a certain role, he has the capacity to do that. We look at him more as a third-line, fourth-line guy who can play a little bit of a physical game. We look at a guy like Stapleton as a guy who is an up-tempo speedster who is much more of an offensive player.
Q. You have twice now put Boris Valabik on re-entry waivers. At this point, is that more about giving him a chance to play somewhere else because he doesn’t fit your plans here?
A. Absolutely. Boris is a good guy, a good kid. At one time, we thought there was a market for him. We are at the point where we would like to give him an opportunity, if there is one there. We like Boris. It’s been a tough situation for him. We’d love to give him the opportunity to play somewhere else.