I spoke to GM Rick Dudley, coach Craig Ramsay and every player so be looking for those interviews as blogs in the near future. I’m thinking of a 5 Questions With … feature each day for the next month.
Here are the notes of the day:
The Thrashers will select seventh in this year’s NHL draft after the league held its lottery Tuesday night for the 14 non-playoff teams.
The Thrashers dropped a spot after New Jersey won the lottery. Edmonton, with the league’s worst record, will select first overall for the second straight year. It will be followed by Colorado, Florida, New Jersey and the New York Islanders to round out the top five.
The Thrashers, with the sixth worst-record in the NHL, could have moved up as high as the second pick had they won the lottery. NHL rules prohibit teams from jumping more than four places.
Ottawa will select sixth and the Thrashers will be followed by Columbus, Boston (via Toronto), Minnesota, Colorado (via St. Louis), Carolina, Calgary and Dallas.
This year’s draft will take place at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota June 24-25.
The Thrashers will have a busy offseason that includes three unrestricted free agents and six restricted free agents from the NHL roster.
Unrestricted Radek Dvorak and Eric Boulton both said Tuesday their first priority was to re-sign with the Thrashers.
“Hopes are to re-sign with the team,” Boulton said. “We’ve made this our home. We obviously love it here. The potential of the team is very attractive too. We have a bright future, a lot of young kids who can play. I definitely want to come back.”
Dvorak said the Thrashers are “my first option.”
Freddy Meyer is also an unrestricted free agent along with minor-leaguers Jason Krog, Jared Ross, Jaime Sifers and Noah Welch.
The top offseason priority is to sign captain Andrew Ladd, a restricted free agent.
“With [Ladd], talks are further along than they were a year ago,” general manager Rick Dudley said. “They are much more what I would call civil discourse. I think we both want to get something done. I think Ladd wants to get something done. We definitely want him back.”
The other NHL restricted free agents are Zach Bogosian, Ben Maxwell, Rob Schremp, Anthony Stewart and Blake Wheeler.
“[Stewart] is an interesting guy because he had a productive first half and a not-so-productive second half,” Dudley said. “Both our side and their side has to take a look at that. I think he’s found a home. I think he likes playing for Craig [Ramsay]. We have to arrive at a number.”
The team’s minor-league restricted free agents are Brett Feasterling, Spencer Machacek, Riley Holzapfel, Andrew Kozek, Arturs Kulda and Ian McKenzie.
The Thrashers had eight players suffer concussions this season, with the injury prematurely ending the season for three.
Jim Slater (41 games), Meyer (28), Patrice Cormier (23), Dvorak (6) and Rob Schremp (1) are all still feeling the effects of the concussions.
“It’s not as good as I want it to be right now,” Slater said. “I missed a big part of the season which was really difficult for myself, very frustrating. One I never want to live again.”
Meyer said he is still dealing with symptoms. Cormier said he is still a month away from being able to work out.
Ondrej Pavelec, Bryan Little and Evander Kane also missed time during the season.
“That’s kind of unusual,” Dudley said. “We are going to request that our people wear the best helmet they can. We can’t order them to”
Thrashers represented at Worlds
The Thrashers could have as many as eight players at this month’s World Championships in Slovakia.
Wheeler, Mark Stuart and Tim Stapleton will play for the United States. Dustin Byfuglien has been invited to play for the team but said Tuesday he has yet to make a final decision. Bogosian said he declined an invitation to play for the U.S. to concentrate on offseason work.
Ladd and Kane have accepted invitations to play for Canada. Pavelec will play for the Czech Republic. Alexander Burmistrov has been invited to training camp for Russia.
“Having an opportunity to play for Team Canada is always an honor,” said Ladd, who will also be getting married this summer.
Injuries will keep two other Thrashers out of the tournament. Sweden’s Tobias Enstrom (shoulder) and the Czech Republic’s Dvorak (concussion) will continue with rehabilitation.
The tournament runs from April 29 through May 15.