Back On The Winning Track

The Thrashers recovered very well from Friday night’s 6-3 loss to the Red Wings by heading south and scoring a 4-3 shootout win in Tampa. The victory ensures that Atlanta will have it’s second winning month of the season seeing that they are now 7-3-0 in March with only three games remaining. Last month they were 6-5-1.

Atlanta got a nice jump out the gates against the Bolts, taking a 2-0 lead into the first intermission after outshooting Tampa 19-7 in the first. Slava Kozlov and Todd White each scored in that opening frame while Ilya Kovalchuk powered home a shot in the second after Tampa had tied it on a pair from Steven Stamkos. White’s and Kovy’s goals were while the Thrashers were on the power play.

Kozlov then scored the only goal in the shootout. He’s taken seven shootout attempts this season, missing only one…up in Buffalo last weekend.

Kozzy assisted on White’s goal, giving him 40 power play points on the season and that is tops in the NHL for that stat…one more than Alex the Great. Kozlov has 11 goals and 29 assist while on the man advantage. Very nice, indeed.

Todd White’s goal and assist extended his career high points streak, now sitting at nine consecutive games. During that time Whitey has four goals and nine assists. For the season he’s accounted for a total of 19 goals and 65 points. Kozlov is riding an eight game point streak himself.

“We’re trying to build something here,” White said after the game. “We’re trying to get as many wins as we can coming down the stretch, play as well as we can and build some confidence for next year.”

Johan Hedberg got the win by turning away 26 of the 29 shots he faced. The last three games Moose has won needed extra time to achieve. Last month in L.A. he was in the goal for a 7-6 shootout win, ten days ago he won a 4-3 game in Edmonton and then last night’s shootout win in Tampa.

And now…some more stuff for you…

Thrashers Continuing On A Very Impressive Run Of Games

Looking back over the past couple of week, Atlanta is 7-2-0 over it’s past nine game. The six-game win streak helps that record out quite a bit, of course. But consider that the only two losses came against the teams that were paired up in last year’s Stanley Cup Finals…by a combined score of 12-5, mind you, but this is still a very strong run the team is currently on.

Over the course of the last sixteen games… starting when the Thrashers traveled to Anaheim five weeks ago… Atlanta has played to a record of 11-4-1. The four losses coming against Detroit, Pittsburgh, San Jose and Florida. In the spirit of the “March Madness” that is upon us…that is a very Sweet Sixteen stretch of games.

Given all that, if the Thrashers can manage just a 5-4-0 record over the last nine games of the season they’ll match last year’s point total of 76 points. As I’ve stated before…that’s normally not a number to brag about…but given the fact that Atlanta was on a pace for 62 points at the halfway point of the season, that’s would be a mighty impressive achievement.

Starting with the 4-0 shutout of the Devils up in New Jersey, Atlanta is 17-14-1 since. That’s a points winning percentage of .547. Played out over 82 games that would equate to about 90 points…which could possibly land a team in the playoffs. It certainly would put ‘em in the chase.

If nothing else, this team has shown over the better part of the past three months that it can indeed play winning hockey. I’m already starting to look forward to next season!

Time To Crank Up The Spoiler Machine

Four of the next five games the Thrashers will play are against teams fighting tooth and nail for playoff positions. Tuesday in Montreal the Thrashers face a Canadiens team that is struggling. Their 3-5-2 record over the past ten games have them clinging to the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with 81 points. Thursday Atlanta will see a hot Rangers squad enter Blueland. New York currently possesses the seventh spot in the east after riding a 7-3-0 hot streak.

After Saturday’s visit by Ottawa…currently ahead of the Thrashers by six points…a team that is sliding out of the race quickly will come to town, Buffalo. At this time Buffalo is five points behind Montreal for that last playoff spot and the Thrashers will be looking to play a nasty trick on them on April Fools Day. Then, on the third, Atlanta will travel to Sunrise, Florida during the second-to-last weekend of the season. Currently, the Panthers are but one point off the post-season pace.

Bye-Bye Back-To-Backers

This past weekend the Thrashers played the last of 15 sets of games played on consecutive night. The win in Tampa allowed Atlanta to finish with a break-even record in these back-to-backers…winning 14 of the games, losing 14 to go with a 2 overtime losses.

Atlanta swept a pair of these set…at the beginning of November they won against the Islanders then traveled to Buffalo were they were successful in overtime. Then, just last month, the Thrashers beat the Ducks out in Anaheim on a Sunday evening before traveling to Los Angeles to win in a shootout against the Kings.

Only twice did the Thrashers lose both games in regulation… and both times the Boston Bruins were involved. Back in October Atlanta dropped a game in Detroit then did the same in Boston the next night. In December, the Bruins prevailed a set of back-to-backers.

In the tail-end games of the B2B games, Atlanta was 6-8-1.

Useless Stat Of The Day

Against the eight teams that are located out west…in the Mountain and Pacific time zones…the Thrashers played to a 8-1-1 record. Atlanta beat Colorado twice as well as Edmonton, Calgary, Anaheim, Los Angeles and Vancouver once each. They lost to San Jose in regulation and Phoenix in a shootout.

Against these teams, the Threshers were a perfect 3-0-0 at home and 5-1-1 on the road.

Eh…do with that tid-bit of information what you will.

Not Too Early To Think About Playoffs

Well, not for the Thrashers…not this year at least. But Darren Eliot has already begun to look past the 82 game regular season to speculate about who just might be this spring what Johan Franzen was during the post-season last year.

Lost And Found

Ever wonder what happened to Patrik Stefan, the top pick in the 1999 draft and first ever player drafted by the Atlanta Thrashers? Well, as Pierre LeBrun of ESPN.com reports, he’s getting the second phase of his life underway as a player agent in Laguna Beach, California.

40 comments Add your comment

Brendan

March 22nd, 2009
12:04 pm

I always felt bad about Patrik’s career ending injury. We Thrasher fans seem to look back at Stefan with disappointment. As far as being a 1st overall draft pick, he was. For what he contributed, being a 3rd line center, he could have been had around pick #71 in a draft, for comparative purposes. Truthfully, I never had any hate for the guy. I saw him for what he was: A third line center who might get you 10-15 goals in any given season. If I could ask Patrik Stefan any one question, it would be this: “Are you surprised that Don Waddell is still the GM of the Thrashers?” Of course, that’s a bit of a “loaded” question. A response would have to be handled rather diplomatically.

I’m glad Patrik is moving on with his life. As the TV cameras panned the crowd at the end of last night’s Bolts game, I saw two Thrashers jerseys that brought a smile to my face. One was Patrik Stefan’s #13, and the other was Peter Buzek’s #2. Those were some Inaugural Season fans there in Tampa! And still wearing those outdating jerseys.

Rawhide, the Thrashers last 18-20 games have been rather respectable. I do think it’s important, as Todd White says, to try to build something. White has another two years left on his 4-year/$9.5 million deal that he signed in 2007.

Did everyone “catch the Waddell strategy” on that deal? Todd White wasn’t some “high-end,” highly sought after Free Agent in 2007. Those centers were Scott Gomez, Daniel Briere, and Chris Drury. Todd White was a Tier II guy, looking for a 3-year deal, ideally. Waddell “targeted” him because he knew no OTHER GM would offer White a 4-year deal. We can all argue if the White contract signing was the “final straw” in Hossa’s decision to leave Atlanta, but we can’t deny that Waddell’s strategy for landing White … uhh … well … worked. Ohhh, I’m not saying that Todd White is the “cure.” Not at all. What I am saying is … Waddell’s willingness to extend years on a contract is how he got a free agent into Atlanta.

Will we see MORE of that sort of thing, in terms of any potential offseason FREE AGENT signings, come July?? I don’t know. I can’t say. What I can tell you is this: “I wouldn’t FOCUS on OUTSIDERS.”

Huh?

UFA’s that can walk, if we don’t re-sign them, include Eric Perrin and Marty Reasoner. I’d try for Reasoner, using the “White model.” I don’t know how many years Reasoner is hoping for on his next deal. But if Waddell wants to ensure that he gets this player, he can probably offer 3-years and get him to bite.

Those aforementioned UFA’s are the least of the offseason issues. Offseason issue #1 is getting Kovalchuk re-signed on July 1, PROACTIVELY. Offseason issue #2 ought to be PROACTIVELY re-signing Bryan Little. Again, that would require the organization to actually have a brain. Offseason issue #3 ought to be re-inking Kari Lehtonen to a 3-4 year deal, at a compromised value. Offseason issue #4 ought to be “discussing a PROACTIVE contract” for Ondrej Pavelec. There probably isn’t a rush on that one. Pavelec didn’t put up great numbers while here. He is only 21. He is still going to be Restricted in 2010. But I think it would “speak” to the continuity of the organization’s plans to re-sign him early. At a minimum, “discussions” should take place, even if a contract doesn’t materialize. Offseason issue #5 should be an RFA contract for Boris Valabik. Offseason issue #6 should be an RFA contract for Nathan Oystrick. Offseason issue #7 should be the RFA contract for Colby Armstrong. And offseason issues #8, 9 and 10 should be RFA contracts for Joey Crabb, Chris Thorburn and Jim Slater.

I am hesitant to mention that Slava Kozlov and Colin Stuart are eligible for PROACTIVE UFA contracts on July 1, 2009. Those can wait. But color me “tickled” if Waddell and the organization actually showed that kind of “foresight.” For it would actually tell me that, well … “They have a PLAN! They have a CLUE!!” I’m not used to that. That would be a SHOCK to me, as a fan of this club.

Think about it, will ya? Imagine if, by training camp, these Thrashers were all locked up: Kovalchuk, Little, Pavelec, Lehtonen, Kozlov, Valabik, Oystrick, Stuart, Crabb, Armstrong, Thorburn, Reasoner, and … what the heck, Brett Sterling, too?

What’s the point??? The point is … to clean your own house before you think about raiding someone ELSE’s. If Atlanta would just “handle its business,” chasing the Brian Campbell’s of the world wouldn’t be necessary. And while I’d love to have Jay Bouwmeester sign here, it won’t happen. What CANNNNN happen, is that players who FEEL WANTED and are GIVEN CREDIT for that HARD WORK they’ve put in with the Thrashers organization … are more APT to re-sign here. We drafted these guys, by and large. All we really have to do is develop them … and pay them a “Non-INSULTING” contract that shows them that they are VALUED by the team. Well, let’s what happens.

Lord knows … pfft … could be just about ANYTHING. I’d never understood the “Waddell mindset.”

Don Waddell

March 22nd, 2009
12:39 pm

If I only had a brain…

Bruce Levenson

March 22nd, 2009
12:40 pm

If I only had a drink…

Beau Turner

March 22nd, 2009
4:13 pm

If only Ted weren’t a family relation. Oh wait! Scratch that! Thank GOD I’m a Turner descendant! I get to PRETEND to work for a living.

Now, where did I put that “trust fund” check? (Probably left it at the country club.)

erock

March 22nd, 2009
4:44 pm

I hope there is some payback tuesday night on o-byrn for roughing up on bogosian the last time they played. BOULTON…OH BOULTON WHERE ART THOU

Mr. Heat Miser

March 22nd, 2009
8:12 pm

When we went 2-0 the Forum got real dang quiet – I could have heard a mouse fart in there. Dunno what happened in the second period – Thrashers feet went to sleep and we almost gave them the game on a silver platter. Could have been remnants from the night before, who knows. As soon as I saw Slava score I know we had it. The little Oompa Loompa didn’t have a chance, and the Thrahsers kept him and Willy Wonka off the scoreboard.
Well worth the 7 hour drive two days in a row to stick it to the Bolts in their own house!

Michael Shapiro

March 22nd, 2009
11:07 pm

Rawhide

Todd White (ex Charmin) now has 20 goals on the season, giving the Thrash four (count ‘em 4) 20 goal scorers (Slava, Little and of course Kovy are in the group). Here’s hoping Army can pot three more on the season to give us five 20 goal scorers. Gotta admit I was less than thrilled with Whitey’s play last year and am tickled that he’s having a career year this year. Go Whitey!

Rawhide

March 22nd, 2009
11:19 pm

Michael Shapiro – Four 20 goal scorers already and Army 3 shy of making it five…now, you woulda thought that possible at the beginning of the season?

I, too, voiced my dismay with White’s performance last year…but let’s be honest here, he’s was a #2 or #3 center at best that was asked to be our #1 when he was brought in.

Not fair.

This year, he began the year on the #2 line with Little and Kozzy and that line was the only consistent one we had up to New Years. Since he and Little were elevated to the Kovy line he has continued to produce, (same with Little).

Whitey is having a career year right now and we all could not be any happier for him. But the question that I throw out to you and everyone else is…do you still think DW needs to go out and find a “true” #1 center over the summer, or has White…or Peverley for that matter… done enough to earn that roster spot next fall in your eyes?

ranallo10 (in AT)

March 23rd, 2009
1:24 am

Since we all know the ASG wont invest any more money than necessary, I don’t think it’s wise to pursue a “true” #1 ANYTHING this offseason. I know, I know, I’ve posted many times about players on my “UFA/RFA wish list” that would qualify for such a role…but hear me out.

If someone like Afinogenov is brought into Atlanta, it will be at a hefty price tag for several years. Does anyone believe such a signing will leave room for Kovalchuk’s new contract? What about Lehtonen’s? Little is earning himself a hefty raise (likely along the lines of Enstrom’s new contract), so he too will increase in the cap category. Speaking of Enstrom, his $3.75M salary kicks in next season too.

So where will the money come from? Is it realistic to think that the owners will open the pocket book for all of those re-signings/upcoming contracts and allow for a big contract free agent?? I don’t believe so.

In other words, while I think it would be excellent to see a top line forward and defender come to Atlanta, I’d rather see the core offensive group locked up (Peverley, Little, Kovalchuk, Armstrong), and the rest of the positions either retained or slowly improved. I just don’t think it’s realistic to see an Ohlund or an Afinogenov type in Atlanta…not at the risk of being unable to afford the rest of the team at the quality we expect.

Nikita

March 23rd, 2009
5:45 am

*but let’s be honest here, he’s was a #2 or #3 center at best that was asked to be our #1 when he was brought in.*

I don’t think that was fair. White’s a great player — he was meant to be a two-way top center, and he had previously played on a lower line with heavier linemates. He then came to Atlanta, where he got linemates who were not inclined to two-way play, themselves, or to providing the grit necessary to helping White do his best. He basically got beaten to hell. This year is much better.

But White has the same limitations he had originally. So, I doubt he’ll be the kind of player we might ideally choose to pay for. I think we could use that player. Or we could raise that player.

Jay

March 23rd, 2009
11:03 am

I would actually try and trade White this offseason. He is going to be 34 when the season starts, so to expect him to keep producing at the level he did this year(a career best year, mind you), would be a bit foolish. Trade him at his highest peak value. If the Thrashers are willing to spend some money(which Levenson said they would if the move made sense), I’m sure White and a small package of picks and lesser players might be able to bring in a Jason Spezza, Brad Richards, or Daniel Briere. Those teams have cap issues and would probably LOVE to rid themselves of those higher contracts. The Thrashers have some room to work with under the cap. Once you have acquired your number one center, go out and sign a Mike Cammalleri, Mike Comrie, or Nik Antropov. With the economy being the way it is, you might be able to sign one of those players, who are probably better(and younger) than White to a deal not far off what he signed for. I like White, don’t get me wrong, but the Thrashers need to start getting players who are up and coming or in their prime, and not rely on players who are on the downward slope of their careers.

sop5

March 23rd, 2009
11:24 am

Here s my expert opinion. We def need to keep our skilled offensive players and give them the money they deserve. I suggest we get rid of Kari because I dont think he is that much better than Andrej if he was given a ligit chance. Then we can get somebody on defense that has a little bit of size and grit. I get tired of watching our short n small defense get trambled on every night. Give me some guys that are 6-4+ at about 240lbs that can skate. We have plenty of offensive talent to support a D that is built around strength and size and grit. Yea we did get bogosian, thats great, but he s not much of a force skatin beside enstrom. I think enstrom is more suited to be a scrappy winger or something. Sorry but I would really like to see somebody on our defense that can hold his own and not have to let thorburn or boulton do the fighting. they need to be focused on getting the puck in the net, not defending our weak defenders when their getting stomped on. It is kinda sad that this organization has come to this. If the proper changes are not made I dont see us in the playoffs for years to come.
On a good note, I do like J Anderson a ton. I think he has a great strategy but not the tools to enforce it. Get rid of the weak d and give me SOME (not jus 1; ZB) guys that can throw their weight around and skate. Also, since im venting, if we have to keep Kari around cause everybody loves him, how bout get him in a lil better shape. Everytime I have seen him he looks like he d be more fit for a eating contest than a hockey game. Sorry folks, just stating the facts. Andrej is lookin a lot better to me.

kracker

March 23rd, 2009
11:47 am

WOW Brendan, you’ve set a new personal record, maybe: 879 words and 5001 chracters!! That’s more than many of the blog texts. By comparision, Rawhide’s entry today ran 1114 words and 6498 chracrters. No wonder I’m so tired at the end of the blog! Anyhoo, it looks like RH has more words today and bigger text with pictures, too. Well, it is his blog!

Bravo to Todd White! I’m glad his inclination is more to the offensive game this season. I suppose it takes a while to change from the a defenseive-first style. He & his line mates are working well together. If he can put up 70-75 points each year, I think he is well worth his salary.

Old Time Hockey

March 23rd, 2009
12:03 pm

I am very proud of the effort I have seen the last few weeks. Just wish we had seen it sooner. Makes it fun to watch and cheer for these guys now. Guess all we had to do was get rid of Havelid.
sop5: Yeah…just get me 10-12 guys who are 6-4, about 240, who can skate, hit, shoot and defend. Good luck.

Alan

March 23rd, 2009
12:21 pm

Andrej [sic] is lookin a lot better to me.

Co?!

Three goals. Five shots. Ondrej has a hill to climb, because with that outing (and the one that followed vs. Pittsburgh), he buried himself.

Kari has earned the right to come back next year. Ondrej will need to earn that same right. Having such poor outings during those games against Boston and Pittsburgh (allowed five goals on 13 shots) makes me question his determination, conditioning, and will to play hard and play to win — despite the beautiful effort he put in against Ottawa (allowed one goal on 29 shots).

He does good things for Chicago, but that hasn’t translated to good things in Atlanta. Especially with a 3-6 record and a 3.55 GAA and .884 SV%

ranallo10 (in AT)

March 23rd, 2009
12:42 pm

I think sop5 meant physically better.

Regardless, Ray Bear is the conditioning coach, and has said twice that Lehtonen shows up in great shape, and is extremely dedicated to working out his core during the offseason. Brodeur isn’t in great shape (he’s got a bit of pudge in the neck too), so I personally don’t think Lehtonen’s pudginess is indicative of anything. Besides, groin issues don’t have to do with being overweight…

Alan

March 23rd, 2009
12:44 pm

Oh, and before anyone tries to say Kari has had “temper tantrums” … I would like to direct you all to a real temper tantrum.

Rawhide

March 23rd, 2009
12:52 pm

RanalloBesides, groin issues don’t have to do with being overweight

Yup, and last I checked, kari hasn’t had any issues with the groin this season. It was his back that put him down last fall.

Kracker – For the record, my posts average about 730 words with about 3,500 characters. What’s line line from “The Big Chill”…never write anything longer than the average…uhm…average “dump”.

sop5Give me some guys that are 6-4+ at about 240lbs that can skate.

Oh yeah…gimme some o’ those too! Know of many on the market?

As for Opie…I would have no issue with a Kari/Opie tandum in which Kari starts about 60 and Opie gets about 22. Pavs has a lot of promise, but in the last two seasons when he’s been called up he looked great for about 5 starts then he would crash and burn. Of course…if DW and Anderson choose that route, then Moose has to be dealt, which I’m OK with.

Brendan

March 23rd, 2009
12:53 pm

Well, Kracker, that’s what a “down arrow” is for. And if you liked what you read, from me, then great. If you didn’t, how much did it “cost” you? Allrighteee then.

I read Jay’s post and was moved by it. He had some intriguing ideas. But here’s why I don’t think the AS, LLC and Waddell will bite on it. (1) They barely have the money to cover the contracts they’ll have to write and stay as close to the floor as they’d clearly like to. (2) Teams who have Tier I centers don’t really want to be rid of them, so much as they’d like to have had the contract negotiations to do over again, dollar-wise. (3) Do Briere, Spezza or Richards “want” to play here? If they don’t, then trading for them only serves to “trap” them here, against their will, demoralized. It also requires us to give them something more than just salary relief in the form of Todd White. What that “something” is … may be something we don’t really want to give. (4) This kind of advanced thinking is not something for which the Thrashers organization is particularly known. What we do know is … that Todd White AGREED, without a gun lodged in his back, to play for the Atlanta Thrashers. If he didn’t want to play for Atlanta, he’d have fired his agent for placing him here.

That’s the truth.

So, what we’ve got is a 30-something year old, with bang for the buck, points-wise, who can serve as “veteran presence” in the lockerroom. We’re no longer a team closer to 40 than 30, in terms of average age. The “old timers” are Hedberg, 33-34, Kozlov, 36-37, and White, 33-34. While I’m all in favor of the youth movement, I recognize that “some” veteran presence in required.

Let’s take a closer look at Jason Spezza, Daniel Briere, and former Conn Smythe winner, Brad Richards.

Jason Spezza is only 25-26 years old. He was a former 2nd overall pick in his draft year. He’d be an $8.0 million cap hit until 2013. Certainly, he benefits from wingers named Alfredsson and Heatley. Although a -9 this year, he’s a +78 for his career. He’s hit the 30 goal plateau twice and notched 20 goals, five-times. He averages BETTER than a point a game, with 394 games played and 409 total points. That’s impressive stuff. But if Ottawa really wanted to jettison this player, they probably already would have. He’s still there for a reason. Look at his playoff numbers. They don’t lie. He’s got 39-points in 40 games and have an “even” plus-minus rating in those games. That tells me that he “doesn’t disappear” in the playoffs.

Daniel Briere is roughly 30. He’s a scrappy, undersized player, with a lot of skill. But he’s often bumped off the puck. Briere went 24th overall in his draft year. He’s hit the 30 goal plateau three (3) times in his career and the 20-marker, an impressive five (5) times. He is a -3 this year, but a -30 in his career. In 580 games played, he’s tallied 460-points. In the playoffs, he’s scored 31-points in 57 games played, with a -4. Briere would be a cap hit around $7.5 million. He’d be under contract until 2013.

Brad Richards is 28, or thereabouts. He was a 64th overall selection. But he is a defensive liability at a career -61. He’s a -4, this season. Brad Richards has NEVER scored 30 goals in a season. Yet his salary cap hit is $7.8 million, and reflects an “overreaction” by then TB GM Jay Feaster, who was attempting to send a message to the Lightning’s fan base with that contract signing. Richards is under contract until 2011, which isn’t all that far away, really. Considering that 2010 is next season, there’d be “all kinds of time” for Brad Richards to be ‘eyeballin’ the exit,’ even on his flight into Hartsfield. Brad Richards has hit the 20 goal marker five (5) times in his career. In 620 Games played, he’s notched 380-points. I’d steer clear of Richards. Not at $7.8 million.

Bryan Little will finish the year with 35 or more goals. He’ll cost $4.5 to $4.75 million, if the organization is ’smart enough’ to lock him up early. If Bryan Little scores 40 goals next year, with 35 this year, he’ll put his salary up in the $7 million range. That’s why it’s ’smart’ to lock him up early. The “risk” is … “inadequate sampling.” What if this season ultimately reflects Bryan Little’s BEST YEAR? Well, then we’d rue the day we opened up the wallet at $4.5 million for him. But I’d at least chalk that one up to a “fair mistake” to make, for a cash strapped market, whose main HOPE resides in developing and re-signing its prospects via the draft.

Alan

March 23rd, 2009
1:00 pm

Rawhide – I’m actually curious to find out whether or not it would be permissible for the Thrashers to buy out Hedberg, then make him the goalie coach. Failing that, perhaps have him as a player-coach of sorts. He unofficially performs that role now as it is.

Brendan – I didn’t get enough sleep last night, and started to doze off after the first paragraph. Got a Cliffs Notes edition of your post? :(

Rawhide

March 23rd, 2009
1:23 pm

Alan – I would be all in favor of that situation. Moose has always been a positive and popular character with his teammates and I think retaining his services in that capacity would be a very good thing for this team.

ranallo10 (in AT)

March 23rd, 2009
1:24 pm

Rawhide — You’re right, back issues are what took him down this year. It is not like the injuries happen because he’s a David Wells out there, sloshing around a spare tire and throwing out his back in the process…

Look at the most recent corps of young “can’t miss goalies”. Leclaire…injuries. DiPietro…middle name is injury. Luongo…yep, very recently has had injuries. Fleury…injuries. Does that mean all of them are out of shape?

Perhaps it’s technique, perhaps it’s improper training, perhaps it’s improper pre-game stretching…either way, these guys are paid to be healthy and keep in shape, someone is paid to keep them in shape, and they still have injury problems. I’d contend that points to “pudgy” Lehtonen does not directly correlate to injured Lehtonen.

But hey, those’re just my thoughts.

Spud Webb

March 23rd, 2009
1:28 pm

Ranallo, I don’t think Afinogenov would demand much after this season. The guy is talented but by FAR the most frustrating player I’VE EVER WATCHED. All this skating with the puck, fancy, just to either turn it over, get CRUSHED into the boards or just plain doesnt even get it on net. I bet you could get him for a million or two. Very disappointing in Buffalo and he’s not young.
Brendan I would love it if the Thrashers were proactive like your post said. No way much of that happens. I’ll keep my fingers crossed though!

kracker

March 23rd, 2009
1:30 pm

Nah, Brendan, I just thought it was appropriate to recognise your 5000 word well written offering, that’s quite impressive.

I think that’s very sound advice from The Big Chill movie, Rawhwide. If I had a laptop I could “time” you!

I am staying in the camp of ppl thinking that because the team, based on an extended period of quite good play recently, looks to be improving on several fronts, we (DW/ASG) can, as the first priority WRT available cash next season for salaries, concentrate on extending Kovalchuk first. Long-term if possible or to a shorter term if Kovy and his agent want the flexibility to sign for maximum money elsewhere in two or three years if league revenues rebound and the cap significantly increases – and the Thrashers remain in the bottom third of the league. Who knows, maybe Kovy will back-load a long term contract so the team can sign more expensive talent now.

ranallo10 (in AT)

March 23rd, 2009
1:41 pm

Spud — Afinogenov is only 29. He’s currently making $3.5M. True, he’s having a bad year, but he’s only two years removed from a 60 point season, and three from a 70 point season. he’s a goal scoring threat (20+ three times, 15+ multiple times more), and has some good puck handling skills and blazing speed.

Exhibit B…Michael Ryder. Coming off a bad season (compared to his previous 30 goal seasons) he was able to garner a $4M contract at the age of 28 (he turns 29 at the end of this month).

I understand exaggeration and all, but he’ll be making $3M+ in his next contract, in my opinion. If Ryder got a bonus despite his horrid 2007-2008 year, I would think Afinogenov could too (though likely not as much).

I’d take a gamble on him for $3M if the team were willing to shell out for him AND the young talent on this roster currently (mainly Little, Peverley, Armstrong, Kovalchuk and Lehtonen)…but since I don’t see that happening, I’d kindly pass on Afinogenov for the chance to get all of the aforementioned Thrashers re-signed.

R. Stroz

March 23rd, 2009
2:05 pm

If Antropov is available on July 1 at a reasonable price, he would be the UFA I would prefer to target. The Thrashers need a big man at center, especially a player that can screen the other team’s goalie.

Spud Webb

March 23rd, 2009
2:17 pm

Agreed Ranallo, I’d much rather have the players you listed rather than Max. I realized he’s had some good years and won’t deny that. As a sabres fan, he drives me NUTS!!!!!! I think 3 million per is/would be too much for him.
Stroz, I would love to have Antropov if he plays “motivated”. I watched some games of him in Toronto and he was lazy at times. He’s got the skills and size.

R. Stroz

March 23rd, 2009
3:40 pm

Spud Webb – Yes, Antropov has lapses in energy to say the least. That said, I imagine his oversize, not fat, frame tends to suffer more aches and pains. Still, the Thrashers need a player with substantial size and a reasonable degree of skill to screen the goalie. Right now, White and Little are performaing said task.

sop5

March 23rd, 2009
4:26 pm

ok, here s a few guys that we could bring up that im sure can be just as productive as who we got now and they are young. Arturs Kulda, Grant Lewis, Brian Sipotz, and Chad Denny. Get these young players with size in there on defense and see if it gets better. I think we can all agree that it cant get much worse. Plus, these guys played under anderson so maybe they could enforce his game plan better than these VETERANS we have now who are “set in their ways”.
About Kari, we all know he has great talent and yea he may be better than Andrej but is it wrong to think that a goalie in the nhl would be better off slim and trim so that he can be as quick as possible…? I think its kinda embarrassing to have someone at such an important position who cant do his best to get in shape for his team. From what i have seen, Kari is great with the glove but doesnt really impress me with anyhting else. I know several middle infielders that could put on the skates and still be good with their glove.
One more thought, why do we have to keep Kolvi around??? Yea he is our star player, but is he really as good as the staals or ovechin or crosby or even hossa…? I think we could get some major talent for him and it would def open up some money issues we have. Seems to me like he has a hard time passin the puck and tho its gotten better the last two years, I still think he could very possibly be holding this team back.

Alan

March 23rd, 2009
4:53 pm

From what i have seen, Kari is great with the glove but doesnt really impress me with anyhting else

Not sure what you’re looking for. He’s made some absolutely stunning stops throughout his career. Hell, he made some beautiful stops during that six game win streak.

Still find it hard to believe people find him un-fit.

Nikita

March 23rd, 2009
5:11 pm

IMO, and mainly responding to Brendan’s post upthread, I have said on many occasions that Todd White is a “good player.” By that I mean that White has a good work ethic and shows up ready to work every day like his linemates Koz and Little — I think we should keep all of them for the next year. IMO, I don’t think any of them can be expected to deteriorate, unless Little takes a good beating between now and the end of the season. Honestly, I think Little is the future of the team.

As to age and stuff, we are now one of the younger teams in the league. And, IMO, we’ve hit the limit of what we can play from the AHL. I’m guessing that some of the kiddies who aren’t good enough now may be good enough by camp, but we still won’t be able to field a competitive team solely on transitional and young players. Plus, sometimes you just need someone who knows their job and can get it done. And that, IMO, is what we need our veterans for. White, Koz, and Reasoner are the essential core of the team.

What I’d like to see in the offseason is those guys locked up. I suspect we’ll also see Slater resigned. I’d bet we also pick up a number of Wolves. And then some small pieces — we need a top-tier center, but I’d bet what we get is a new top defenseman.

kracker

March 23rd, 2009
6:51 pm

Referring to my Kovy back-loaded contract comment above I should point out (and someone may already have), that the NHL cap as I understand it is figured on the cost of the contract as an average/year. So the back-loading would only help in that the owners would have a bit less actual money to pay out in the early years of such a contract.

I hope I have it right now. Kovalchuk’s current contract was higher in the first year, then dropped the next year and gradually moved back higher, if I remember correctly. Brendan probably has those figures at his finger tips :)

ThrashFanMax

March 23rd, 2009
6:53 pm

Sop5 I do not think that bringing up those young talents is the way to go at all. Chad Denny has played at Gwinnett for a couple of years, and only sporadically played for Anderson. The others just are not ready. I think resigning the group that has been mentioned is the way to go. They have energy, they have some skills, and really can get somewhat physical. We do need more physicality in our play though. Adding one or two defensemen not afraid to finish a hit is really a better idea!

Glovesave29

March 23rd, 2009
7:01 pm

Signing Spezza isn’t really a possibility, plus that salary hit will make it too difficult to get a good contract for Kovy. White is a popular guy on the team and that in addition to his point totals make him a keeper. Sure, its PROBABLY a career season, but we won’t know until a few years down the road, perhaps this is what we can expect of him now that he is in the right place with the right team. If we are going to raid another team, i’d like to see Don’s replacement make a trade for Buffalo’s Nathan Gerbe…he’s going to be this generations Theo Fleury (without the substance abuse issues). Runs around at 10,000mph on every shift…an energy guy with offensive skills and an attitude.

As for trading Kari…that is ridiculous. Look at his stats vs. Ondrej in the AHL. Kari’s numbers far exceed Pavalec, and if you don’t want an overweight goalie, then Ondrej is definately not your man. Do you recall he was sent back to Cape Breton without even strapping on the pads as he came to camp waaaay overweight a few seasons back. Kari looks to be in fine shape, some people just have pudgy cheeks. Ondrej is a backup or trade bait…

kracker

March 23rd, 2009
7:37 pm

sop5, we do need to keep our superstar player. Two or three mid-range players, 25-35 goals/year, doesn’t quite equal one 45-55 goal scorer. Each replacement player you may wish to sign needs a set position on one of the top two lines and they require more in the way of support from their linemates to generate their goals and points. The same sort of support is needed for the superstar player but to a considerably lesser degree. All the true scorer needs is the occasional open ice that every player finds themselves in several times in most games. And of course, their talents are magnified exponentially on the PP.

Not to mention the popularity aspect. The superstar sets hearts on fire and puts people in the seats. Success can occasionally be attained with a balanced, roll 4 lines plan of attack but only if you have a carefully crafted, inexpensive roster with great chemistry on each line playing a system that enhances their skills. Read: Buffalo a couple of years ago. However, the downside to such a team is when you lose one or two mid-range scorers/passers either to extended injury or to FA, then it all goes to crap.

Give me the big guy to build your team around.

kracker

March 23rd, 2009
7:45 pm

Darn, I need to proof read better. That was supposed to be 25-30 goals above for the non-super players. But to me, the number of goals for the lesser players aren’t as important as the extra scoring line positions needing to be filled to equal the impact of the one superstar player.

ranallo10 (in AT)

March 23rd, 2009
7:53 pm

sop5 — I have to disagree with you on several fronts.

First, and most importantly, I don’t believe Kovalchuk is a hindrance to this team. I think he’s only slightly behind Ovechkin, Malkin, Crosby, Iginla, Lecavalier, Hossa, Heatley, etc…though his overall game doesn’t match up 1:1 with those examples. They’re all different types of players so it’s not as simple as saying “one is better than the other”, but for pure scorers in this league I’d say Kovalchuk is easily top 5.

Second, Kovalchuk’s passing problems are not due to his own faults, but I would pin the blame on unfit linemates. For instance, how many times did we see passes from Kovalchuk go towards Christensen or Williams and end up clanging along the boards because of him (EC or JW) not being ready to receive the pass? With quality linemates comes quality finishing plays, which highlights the passing ability of a scorer like Kovalchuk. For an example of his ability to pass, look at the Detroit game where he drove behind the net with the puck, faked the entire defense out that he’d hold it and go around, and instead dropped a nifty pass to Peverley’s stick for a quick snap shot which was excellently blocked by Osgood. It was a great play, and Peverley was able to react to a nice pass and try to make the most of it. Williams, it seemed, would’ve been expecting Kovalchuk to go around the net just like the defense, and would’ve gotten caught staring and unprepared when the puck came towards him.

Thirdly, what veterans on defense is this team using that is clogging the system? The oldest player on the blueline is Hainsey, at 27. If anything the team has a plethora of young and somewhat experienced defenders that need seasoning and perhaps an injection of top line experience. Plus, as ThrashFanMax said, not all of the young defenders in Chicago are ready for the NHL (by the way, Sipotz is no longer in the Thrashers organization, he was signed by Chicago to my understanding). I’d like to see Kulda and Lewis get some more ice time, perhaps even Lehman…but that’s not realistic until training camp. Valabik and Oystrick play well with their body, and both are fighting for ice time now…so it’s hard to imagine room being made for Kulda, Lewis, etc unless some sort of transaction happens that opens up a spot. To be honest, removing a defender from the roster (with the exception of Exelby, maybe) will NOT be better if a Chicago prospect fills that vacant spot. They’re just not ready.

I’ll say it again though…if Atlanta comes through this offseason with Kovalchuk and Lehtonen re-signed to multi-year contracts, and nothing more, I’ll consider the offseason a success. If Atlanta can sign a top defender like Ohlund or a top forward like Antropov, Afinogenov, or Cammalleri, I would consider the offseason a success and the team one step closer to signing Kovalchuk.

Nikita — I would agree that Little (and Bogosian) are obviously the future of the franchise. Little has proven he can play at the NHL level (for those who didn’t think he could) and be a consistent contributor on a scoring line in Atlanta. His maturation was probably the best thing to happen to this team, neck-and-neck with Kovalchuk’s emergence as captain and Bogosian’s progression to becoming a bonafide NHL defenseman at age 18.

Tony C.

March 23rd, 2009
9:13 pm

I would love to see us get Antropov. Anfinogenov is way more skilled, but he’s also way more soft. Antropov has been criticized for not playing as big as he is, but I can’t recall him getting knocked off the puck as easily as Afinogenov does.

pond scum

March 23rd, 2009
9:34 pm

Just like to say thanks for the White article,I’ve been promoting the guy since day one he signed. He is a very under estimated player by many fans to this team. He is VERY capable of being this teams #1 center,heck he’s pretty much been that all season anyways.

He and Kovy and Little have very good chemistry on the ice,if Army could just step up into that RW role on the second line with Kozzy and Pevs,we’d really be set for next season IMHO.

I’m REALLY hoping that Reasoner is reupped well before summer FA hits and we lose him,he to also has been very under-rated and over looked.

I’m enjoying this part of the season alot more than compared to the past.The youngsters are playing hungry hockey,not caring that the playoffs are not within reach and showing very good promise for the future.Colin Stuart has surely locked up a spot on next seasons roster with his play since being recalled.Toby and Bogo look very good together as our #1 pairing,alot better than I thought they would.

Oystrick and Valabik both look promising also.Peverly has what it takes to stay as well and it seems all the youth has re-energized Kozzie. I’m very happy with them this roster and my hope is that alot of changes AREN’T made for next seasons opening nite.

If we could just get top notch,consistent goal tending from Kari and Pavs(time to move the moose to either Steve Weeks position or gone altogether) and let those 2 push each other to see who comes out as the #1 guy, reup Reasoner,Army and whoever else needs to be signed(maybe even go ahead and lock up Kovy), and I think the #8 seed for this young team for next season isn’t out of the question at all.

pond scum

March 23rd, 2009
10:26 pm

Some of you need to look back at White’s career numbers in the past,especially while he was on a line with a young Hossa. He had some good success then,back when tackling was the only way hooking,holding,interference calls were made.

He had to #1,develop chemistry with a new team in a new system(twice in 2 seasons),that was a polar opposite to Lemaires defensive system in Minnesota. Outside of Gabby,who exactly lights it up consistently for the Wild? And they at they time was trying to figure out if Pierre Marc Bouchard and Mikko Koivu was their future #1 centers for Gabby,the guys they DRAFTED.

Why the hell trade White NOW? Just because he’s getting some age (34 isn’t really old anyways),he’s not been marred by injuries nor does him seem to have lost a step. It actually speaks volumes that at his age,he’s getting BETTER.With his cap number at not even 2.5 million…….he’s really a freakin steal.

I mean what has a guy like White gotta due to garner the comfort of his roster spot not being in question after the offseason,when he’s showing up younger,more expensive supposedly better talents than he is? Maybe that’s why some vets stick their noses up at us,even when they have better seasons than expected,they get moved or lowballed (SAVARD,Audette,Brunette,Staios ring a bell?)

Reasoner is another example of this very situation. He’s put up his best numbers ever,expressed his wanting to stay.But DW drags his feet in reupping him.Too bad his last name isn’t Rheaume,Tamer ect……he’d already been taken care of.

This team has played ALOT better since moving the dead weight,I’m just here till the trading deadline collecting a paycheck, for a young franchise who over payed me for my name, to come play for them cause they was desperate and I could get them to over pay me in the first place.

Havelid wasn’t that bad IMHO,but Schneider should feel guilty for stealing as should Holik,Zhitnik and a few others.

I’m sick of those type veterans who want compensation due to their past glories,I want to keep vets like White,Kozzie,Reasoner who say …… give me the icetime and i want to show you I can take us higher. Freakin reward them already.As fans,back them up instead of always trying to go for a bigger name on a jersey back instead of the front.Were never going to have consistency until we stop with the roster over hauls every summer,all this one needs is maybe 1-2 tweaks if that.

Reward our youngsters by not asking them to bust their a$$es,then turn right around in the offseason and sign a over the hill,over paid vet to play the same role with less effect and worse results than playing the youngster.