Thrashers general manager Rick Dudley is actively looking to make a trade to improve a struggling team on the verge of falling out of the playoff race.
Dudley told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Wednesday that there is a heightened sense of urgency following a 4-1 loss to the New York Islanders Tuesday.
As of last night, yes [we are actively looking for a trade],” Dudley said. “Are we looking to do something? Absolutely. We don’t want to let this go. Obviously we haven’t given up on the season. It would be ludicrous. We haven’t given up on improving either. If it doesn’t come from within, it will come from outside.”
The Thrashers hold a tenuous one-point lead on the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. They have won just seven times in their past 22 games, erasing a once comfortable playoff margin.
Dudley said, ultimately, he would like to add two forwards and a defenseman.
“Those could happen now. They could happen later,” Dudley said. “Obviously we feel a sense of urgency because we think we are a better team than we displayed last night. We think we are capable of making the playoffs but it may take a move here or there.
“I’m not going to jeopardize the long-term future of the organization for the short-term gain. But if there is something that makes sense in both of those cases, long term and short term, we would do that for sure.”
Dudley said he is concerned with the commitment to winning and the loss of tempo the team displayed during a 10-2 streak earlier this season that included wins over Washington, Detroit, Colorado and Boston.
“The people that are here can in some way, shape or form make that decision for us,” Dudley said. “If they play like they did [Tuesday] night, it’s an easy decision. If they play at the level we were at once when we had a tempo that was second to none in the league they make that decision for you because then they are good enough. We have to make decisions on what we see. What we’ve seen so far is that we are not there yet.”
Following the loss to the Islanders, captain Andrew Ladd and alternate Dustin Byfuglien met with coach Craig Ramsay to discuss accountability from the team. Dudley said it’s up to team leadership to step forward.
“There are not a lot of people in the last few games [that played well],” Dudley said. “You better look in the mirror. There is a commitment to be made. There are 29 games left. I believe in my heart that if this team, and I know they are young, but if they got together and said ‘Hey for whatever length of time there is left, we are going to be the best we can be. We are going to take care of ourselves. Work hard. In practice we are going to do everything that our strength coach asks us to do. We are going to stay sharp. We are going to take a little off our having fun time’ … In the long-term scheme of things, it’s a very short time to be the best you can be. There are no shortcuts.”
Dudley said the Thrashers are capable of returning the top-level play as they showed in November and December.
“I don’t believe in overachieving,” he said. “I think what you saw for a period of 20 games was our optimal level or close to it. Nobody every plays at their optimal level but we were at 90 percent. We went through a horrible part of the schedule, lost some things, and now we are at about 70 percent. Seventy percent is not good enough in this league. We have to get back to 90 percent. That will take someone in that dressing room bringing them all together and saying ‘Hey, we can have a good thing here but we have to do it right.’”