Imagine Chris Thorburn’s surprise when the Thrashers approached him about signing a contract extension earlier this season.
“It’s never happen to me before,” Thorburn said. “I’ve read about guys signing extensions but for them to come to me is unbelievable. It’s a dream come true.”
Thorburn signed a new three-year contract Saturday that will pay him an average salary of $867,000 per season.
Thorburn was scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent following the season. The forward said the team approached him early in the season but the deal finally came together in the last few days.
“It feels good,” Thorburn said. “Personally, it’s something I’ve always strived for. It gives me a little bit of security. I love the organization. I’ve been here for four years and am planting some roots. I want to be part of the rebuilding and putting a solid team in Atlanta.”
Thorburn has done a little bit of everything for the Thrashers this season. He has played all three forward positions and been on the penalty kill and power play units.
“He’s a guy you can count on late in the game to go out and block shots, take a big draw,” Thrashers coach Craig Ramsay said. “He’s a guy [we use] if we are up a goal late in the game and we need a guy big in our end. He fills a lot of roles. I still feel there is potential for growth. He hasn’t reached his potential. If he trusts himself, he can become an even better player and more significant part [of the team].”
Thorburn has tied his career-high with seven goals this season. He also has 16 points, two off his best. In four seasons with the Thrashers, Thorburn has 23 goals and 39 assists. He also played for Buffalo and Pittsburgh before joining the Thrashers in 2007.
“They’ve given me every opportunity to succeed,” Thorburn said. “At the same time, I’m not satisfied and there is still room for improvement.”
Ramsay said keeping players like Thorburn is essential for building a winning team.
“Most importantly, I believe, he is a good person, a good teammate,” Ramsay said. “He tries hard at practice. He works hard in the gym. He works hard in the games. He does everything he can to be a good player and teammate. For an organization, it’s absolutely vital that everyone is pulling in the same direction and he wants to be part of something.”
In other news from Saturday:
* The Thrashers officially listed goaltender Ondrej Pavelec as day-to-day with an undisclosed injury. Pavelec could dress for Sunday’s game against the Maple Leafs. However, Chris Mason is likely to get the start in goal. Ramsay said Pavelec saw the team doctor on Saturday as a precaution. Pavelec was injured in the first period of Friday’s game against the Panthers. The injury is likely to his wrist as television cameras showed the area taped up after Pavelec was relieved by Mason to start the second period.
* Pavelec did not practice on Saturday and the Thrashers re-called goaltender Drew MacIntryre from AHL Chicago. MacIntyre arrived in time to practice with the team.
* Forward Tim Stapleton was placed on waivers.
* Defenseman Johnny Oduya missed practice but Ramsay said he was “sore” and expected him to play Sunday.