Five Questions With … Nik Antropov

Nik Antropov struggled early in the season to recover from major hip surgery following last season. He finished with 16 goals and 25 assists in 76 games for the Thrashers, including six goals and six assists in his 19 games.

Antropov said by the end of the season he felt he was “95 percent” back to his form from a year ago when had 24 goals and 43 assists.

In the next of a series of interviews with Thrashers players following the 2010-11 season, here is some of what Antropov had to say about his recovery time and his switches between center and right wing.

Q. How do you think your season went and how long did it really take you to come back from last offseason’s hip surgery?

A. I guess I can divide it into different parts. The first half I was trying to get back on track and then I felt way better, more like myself, the last 20-25 games. Not in terms of points, but the how I felt on the ice and skating-wise.

Q. Your individual numbers were down this season. How disappointing was that?

A. Absolutely. As I said, the first part of the season I was just trying to find myself, find my skating. That was the most important thing. If you can’t skate, you can’t keep up with anybody. You can see the point production was low. The last 20-25 games, I was feeling really good and the points were there. It was just a little too late, I guess. It doesn’t matter what the point production is, as long as we make the playoffs.

Q. What did you think this team can achieve next season based on what happened this year?

A. Overall, it was a good season in terms of learning for us. It’s a young team. We can learn a lot, even from that bad slump we had. We lost the last few games by one goal. That’s something we can improve on too. We did a lot of good things this year. We didn’t make the playoffs and that is disappointing. It’s a lot to learn out of all that.

Q. Why do you think you were so successful against the top-level teams like Washington and Philadelphia?

A. I think we approached those games a little differently than the teams that were on the bottom at the time. We wanted to show that we were not just Atlanta, that we could play hockey. We showed that. We have to play 82 games like that. Then we can be successful.

It’s the whole team, not just the young guys. It’s the responsibility of all 20 guys that go out there. It’s the players that have to change that.

Q. You were moved between center and wing this season. What do you prefer?

A. I was just asked that by the coaches oddly enough. It doesn’t really matter for me. Maybe I feel a little more comfortable on the right wing. It’s up to them where they put me – as long as it’s not on the left wing, I’m good.

The series will continue over the next couple of weeks. Coming Monday, Ron Hainsey.

14 comments Add your comment

KLS1

April 22nd, 2011
8:33 am

“We wanted to show that we were not just Atlanta, that we could play hockey.”

probably a slip of the tongue, but Antro is dead on, we need to change some minds that the Thrashers are not a doormat. Nashville has done it, we have to make 3 or 4 solid playoff runs to remove the stigma.

sisu

April 22nd, 2011
9:08 am

“Antropov said by the end of the season he felt he was “95 percent” back to his form from a year ago”
Which is most of us had believed all along, if and a big if he can improve his speed maybe then he will help more like 1st year?

Cornbread

April 22nd, 2011
9:48 am

I’m amazed that Antro got 76 games in. He was notably slow on the ice this year. Hopefully he gets it back over the Summer. He should have a few more good years left. Playing wing will be less of a backchecking responsibility and should up his shot and goal production.

Darkhorse

April 22nd, 2011
10:34 am

He’s got to find another half step or so. If not, he’s won’t be much of a factor or help next season. I couldn’t believe how slow he looked for the large majority of this season. Hopefully, like he said, it was just the effects of offseason surgery.

Alfonso

April 22nd, 2011
11:50 am

Q. What did you think this team can achieve next season based on what happened this year?

A. Overall, it was a good season in terms of learning for us. It’s a young team. We can learn a lot, even from that bad slump we had. We lost the last few games by one goal. That’s something we can improve on too. We did a lot of good things this year. We didn’t make the playoffs and that is disappointing. It’s a lot to learn out of all that

Avoiding the question? Doesnt seem to give a definate answer about next season

Yuvno Ballzerdik

April 22nd, 2011
2:37 pm

Antro was painfully slow..again it’s depth or lack of depth we have here. He should have been shut down, but when you have absolutely no one available to fill any holes, you are screwed and we were screwed a lot this season. Antro had a legit excuse, he’ll bounce back.

Since the Whineypeg trolls are poaching the Yotes again, for a good laugh check out TSN’s Ilya Bryzgalov article on why he doesn’t want to go there. haha. Save us Glavine.

Brendan

April 22nd, 2011
2:58 pm

Antropov can still be a very good player for Atlanta. Next season, we’ll have him at 100-percent all year, barring something unforeseen. When healthy, Antropov is a guy to build the marketing campaign around.

Sam

April 22nd, 2011
3:38 pm

I just remember how Antro stepped up last season after the Kovy trade. He was strong, effective and a real leader. I really gained a lot of respect for him then. And I’ll be glad to see that healthy Nik Antropov back next season. Give him all kinds of props for just grinding out this season. He was slow, and it was often painful to watch him. But you knew HE must have been in some real pain, too. He’s not a quitter. And he’s got a big body that he’ll put in the crease. And good hands.

That surgery must have kicked his butt. Feel better, Nik. Look forward to seeing you next season.

Midfield

April 22nd, 2011
4:03 pm

Anybody knows what Gaborik’s contract status is? I don’t believe that he can overcome the NY goat image he’s just earned with the Rangers vs the Caps.

Tony C.

April 22nd, 2011
8:00 pm

I think that he (Antropov) should have been shut down for the year, but as pointed out above, lack of quality depth prevented that.

We all remember #80 of two seasons ago, what a dominant force he was down the stretch. It was painfully obvious that he never recovered from the hip surgery, I hope he is able to get the rest & rehab needed this summer. I’d like to see him on a line with Kane & Burmistrov/FA Center, as Antropov has shown his natural inclination is more of a playmaker than a shooter-liked his honesty about position-assignment “As long as it’s not the left wing I’m good”…unfortunately, there’s a big gnawing fear that left wing is exactly where the brain-trust will pencil him in…

Tony C.

April 22nd, 2011
8:04 pm

Midfield-Way too much $ for this franchise…don’t tease yourself. Besides, he gets hurt too much/easily…

Yuvno Ballzerdik

April 23rd, 2011
7:10 am

Anthony Stewart should be depth, not a full-time roster player, Tim Stapleton shouldn’t be on the roster at all. We couldn’t even replace Slater who has been injured for a couple of seasons now. I like the optimism of players..most agree we are a few pieces away..but again if those pieces fall flat or key players get hurt..I really don’t see much improvement headed our way considering since 1999 we have never had a minor league team that played the same system as the coach here, we have never properly developed players, etc etc.. there has never been any depth to speak of..unless you believed Dudley at the start of last season when he was referring to Freddy Meyer..who of course ended up being a roster player. Nothing against our career AHL’ers..but when they are full-time roster players, you don’t have depth, Mr. Duds.

Conor

April 24th, 2011
2:26 pm

Antropov is actually very well-spoken for a foreign player; this was a good interview. I think that he’ll definitely be close to his ‘10 level of play next year, as he will have hopefully fully recovered from his injury. It would be a mistake to deal him this offseason.

Yuvno Ballzerdik

April 25th, 2011
8:02 am

a little off topic…but did anyone else enjoy the Sabres crying because Tim Connolly was injured from a questionable hit? This is the same Tim Connolly who is responsible for cheap-shotting Jim Slater which started Jimmy’s long line of concussion problems. Connolly was never punished for his elbow on Slater. Slater hasn’t been right since, he gets bumped and gets a concussion now. I just thought it was beyond hypocritical that the Sabres were crying foul at that and playing the innocent victim. I guess it takes karma a while to work sometimes, but it works.

As for Antro I view him as being in the same boat as Peverley was, management expects more, though Antro had a legit excuse and obviously some sort of no-trade clause. I think Duds entertained trading him but had no takers for obvious reasons. Antro if healthy has to at least bang into someone once in a blue moon, he was one of the least physical players on our team..not to mention one of the biggest.