Good Trade Though XLB Will Be Missed

Don Waddell has yet to make a splash in the UFA pool as of yet, but he has indeed done something to alter the shape of the team’s makeup. Wednesday afternoon, he pulled the trigger on a deal that sent defenseman Garnet Exelby and forward Colin Stuart to the Toronto Maple Leaf in exchange for defender  Pavel Kubina and the rights to forward Tim Stapleton.

Kubina is 32-years old and has played for the past three seasons with the Leafs. Last year he played in all 82 games and scored 14 goals, 26 assists and was a -15. He was a seventh round draft pick, (179th overall), by Tampa Bay back in 1996. During his time in Tampa, he played in 531 games, score 65 goals and 144 assists. In the playoffs he accounted for a goal and five helpers in 38 games played. He was also a part of Tampa Bay’s 2004 Stanley Cup championship.

He’s played in 746 NHL regular season games in 11 seasons during his career and has a total of 97 goals, 213 assists and is a -102.

Tim Stapleton was signed by Toronto last year and has played in 4 games, scoring one goal on 9 shots and is a -3. He’s a product of the University of Minnesota-Duluth and in four years there he played in 162 games scoring 63 goals and 89 assists. His 42 points as a freshman led the team in scoring during the 2002-02 season. After that he had 41 points as a sophomore, 29 as a junior and 30 as a senior. He has also spend time with the Green Bay Gamblers of the USHL, Portland Pirates and Toronto Marlies of the AHL as well as two season with Jokerit of the Finnish SM-liiga.

Departing Atlanta, of course, is a player who has been with the organization since it’s very first days. Exelby was selected in the Thrashers’ first ever draft in 1999 and was taken with the 217th overall pick that year. In 357 regular season games with the team, he accounted for 6 goals and 40 assists and was a -20. Last season he had seven assist and was a -2.

Exelbys presence was felt on and off the ice in Atlanta

Exelby's presence was felt on and off the ice in Atlanta (AP Photo)

In the four playoff games in 2007, he had no points and was a -1 in the four games against the Rangers and got away three shots on goal.

However, to many, XLB was more than just another player in the lineup…more than just stats on a sheet. He was a favorite by many and he involved himself in quite a number of community events in the metro Atlanta area. I know several fans…myself included…who are going to miss him in on the team and in the community, regardless of whether or not what is thought of the deal.

I wish X nothing but the best of luck in Toronto.

Same with Stuart…the 5th round Thrashers pick back in 2001. He’s has gotten to know the route between Atlanta and Chicago very well over the past couple of seasons as he’s shuttled between the Thrashers and Wolves. He played in 33 games last season…18 the year before…and has netted a total of 8 goals and 13 points on 73 SOG . He leaves Atlanta with a +5 rating.

As for the trade itself, I have to give it a thumbs up. Kubina is not “old” but he becomes the senior member of the Thrashers blueline corps. Also, he’ll join Hainsey, Bogosian and Enstrom as the top four players on defense. If the Thrashers had acquired another defender of similar talent via free agency, or another trade, Exelby would have been relegated to the bottom line with Valabik…leaving Salmela sitting in the pressbox. So, in essence, a bottom two defender was replaced by a top-four. Now, Valabik and Salmela probably round out the starting six…pending any further moves.

As for Stuart, his best hope was to be a third-line winger here. His roster spot can now belong to Evander Kane.

Now, About Yesterday’s Pool Party…

Quite an incredible turnout for this summer’s UFA pool party, I’d say. As of the posting of this blog, 500 comments had been thrown up on yesterday’s entry…far exceeding the previous all-time best of 317 that was reached on the July 1, 2008 blog last summer.

500 comments posted in about 24 hours…not too shabby folks. Reach around and give yourselves a big pat on the back.

Happy Independence Day!

I want to wish each and every one of you a happy and safe 4th of July holiday weekend. Go out and celebrate the 233rd anniversary of our nation’s birth to the fullest. The Divine Mrs. R will motor our way down to the lake house in north Florida where the tax exemption and I will commence in launching multiple rounds of explosive ordinances across the lake

In the meantime, if you haven’t treated yourself lately to the greatest “shove it” letter ever written, please do yourself a favor and enjoy it now.

God bless you, God bless our brave men and women who serve here and abroad and may God bless the United States of America!

263 comments Add your comment

Buzilla in CT

July 2nd, 2009
11:01 am

Thrash ink Thor.

Alan

July 2nd, 2009
11:02 am

Viking, I’m saying neither.

We have people in our system to take those bottom-6 positions. We don’t need to bring someone from outside when we’re stacked with bottom-6 players. Tell me, would you buy a quart of oil if you have a case of oil in your garage? That doesn’t make much sense, does it? Neither does bringing in a bottom-6 player when you already have a bunch of bottom-6 players.

Not giving Thorburn a qualifying offer could mean his spot in the lineup is going to be filled by one of the bottom-6 guys from Chicago this coming season. Or, Thorburn could be re-signed by the organization.

What I said (and no offense, but I honestly thought what I said was pretty clear) is that we need to be concerned about bringing in a top-6 forward. We’re absolutely stacked at third and fourth liners. We need a top liner to play with Kovalchuk. Sjostrom doesn’t fit that description, and thus we shouldn’t make a run for him.

A player like Sjostrom is an accessory for a playoff contender, not a need for a rebuilding team.

Alan

July 2nd, 2009
11:03 am

Guess I was late. Thorburn re-signed … much to my dismay.

Tony C.

July 2nd, 2009
11:07 am

Another thought- Kovalev’s still out there, and what if we did a big-ticket 1-yr deal for him?

#17/White/Little

SlavaMatic/Peverly/Kovalev

Crabb/Reasoner/Armi

“Gods”

Spud Webb

July 2nd, 2009
11:17 am

Please let me read at some point today “Chris Neil signed”! Won’t cost much and will TOUGHEN this freaking team up. Then a top 4 forward and a center. LETS DO THIS> come on DW.

chc4

July 2nd, 2009
11:17 am

Would love to have Kovalev at RW. Yeah he’s a short term band-aid but it could bridge the gap til Kane is ready. That would make for a nice top 6.

Glovesave29

July 2nd, 2009
11:23 am

Chris Neil? He signed with a hometown discount yesterday with Ottawa.

chc4

July 2nd, 2009
11:25 am

Pretty sure Neil re-upped with Ottawa late yesterday.

Spud Webb

July 2nd, 2009
11:30 am

Thanks guys, well, that sucks for me.
ahhahahahha

Glovesave29

July 2nd, 2009
11:30 am

THIS is what a team player is…

“If we’re going to win the Cup, we need guys to take pay cuts. The way the salary cap is now, you really can’t get what you’re worth now if you want to win. Everybody in this locker-room knows that and for us to be a great team going forward, we’re going to have to take a pay cut.”

– Ryan Kesler / Vancouver Canucks

Oh, here here!

Spud Webb

July 2nd, 2009
11:33 am

Ok, I might be a day behind again, lol. Just read another story on TSN RIPPING heater…wow, this is the second one I’ve seen. Too bad the rangers just signed gaborik, wonder what dany wants now???
http://www.sportingnews.com/blog/rslover.tsn/194539/

Smoothie

July 2nd, 2009
11:39 am

Tony C, that’s an interesting thought re: Kovalev. I think Kovy would like having the “other Kovy” around and could give us some good interchangeability with our Top 6. We could even go all Russian on the PP with Ilya, Kovy and Kozzy with 2 American blueliners Bogey and Ron.

If not a big one year deal for either Kovalev, how about one of the following for a 2 or 3 year deal worth $2.5 – $3 M per?

1) Sykora

2) Kotalik

3) Samuelsson

Glovesave29

July 2nd, 2009
11:39 am

Dany’s gonna have to stay in Ottawa. Maybe coach Clouston can have a ceremony in the locker room where they dramatically rip the “A” off of his jersey. Let him skate out onto the ice with a rip where it used to be. Give his #15 to a rookie too, give him number like 83 – or 0! They can offer the fans 50% off a new jersey if they return their Heater one.

Smoothie

July 2nd, 2009
11:40 am

Nevermind! Dreger just tweeted that we inked Antropov to a 4 year deal worth $16 mill! Damn, not sure about this one. He better step up his motivation…hopefully playing with Kovy will do it for him.

http://twitter.com/darrendreger

Spud Webb

July 2nd, 2009
11:43 am

Smoothie, If that is true, though I’m not sold on him, at LEAST we are trying!!!!! Effort is something to build on?? lol.
Will this be enough for kovie to stay???

Toby

July 2nd, 2009
11:43 am

GaVaHokie

July 2nd, 2009
11:44 am

Rawhide

July 2nd, 2009
11:44 am

:!: THRASHERS SIGN NIK ANTROPOV :!:

It’s confirmed that Atlanta have signed Nik Antropov…4-years, $16-million!

Smoothie

July 2nd, 2009
11:46 am

Well, looks like we can go pseudo-Russian on the PP with Antropov stalking the crease like a big grizzly bear. I reckon this bolsters our 2nd line with Antro playing the role of “power” forward on the right side with Kozzy feeding him pucks. Who plays center on that line? I say Whitey. I want maximum speed on top.

Kovy — Pevs — Little

Kozzy — White — Antro

Kane / Crabb — Reasy — Army

Boultsy — Slater — Thor / McMacho

Well, we now have size that everyone has been clamoring for, but how much better will we be defensively with the addition of Antro? Is he considered a respectable 2 way player??

Tony C.

July 2nd, 2009
11:47 am

yEAH. Antropov’s not bad when motivated…. I still think that giving Kovalev $6M this year would’ve been better… but still, DW got him for $1M less per than Antropov wanted… love this quote from Puck Daddy’s Sean Leahy:

That’s Don Waddell doing his best to appease Ilya Kovalchuk

Not a bad signing, but I’d like to both Antropov AND Kovalchuk play with more “nasty”.

Maybe they should make #17 hang out with Malkin on his day with The Cup-I know I’d be p!ssed after that.

Alan

July 2nd, 2009
11:48 am

Looks like all the Leafs Faithful turned out on the TSN comments section to say the deal sucks since we “overpaid”. Wasn’t the asking price $5m+/yr?

Whatever helps them sleep at night.

Good to see we got one of the top free agent forwards, though.

Banana Puddin' Pie

July 2nd, 2009
11:48 am

Where did you hear that RawHide??

Toby

July 2nd, 2009
11:49 am

I like…

Kovy – Peavs – Antro
Kozzy – White – Little

Antro clears the way for Kovy and will pick up rebounds. As far as the 2nd line, they were great last year and I wouldn’t break them up.

PUTTING ON THE FOIL

July 2nd, 2009
11:51 am

How much upside does Antropov have? That’s a pretty big paycheck.

Rawhide

July 2nd, 2009
11:52 am

Banana Puddin’ Pie – Got that call from my “contact”….but TSN is confirming as well.

R. Stroz

July 2nd, 2009
11:52 am

Kovy should be re-signing soon. I think we just received Christmas in July.

Smoothie

July 2nd, 2009
11:53 am

Well, before last season, Nik was a career + 67 in 7 seasons with TOR. HOWEVER, he has been a bit injury prone (ugggh!) with an average of only 62 games over 7 season (in 2001 he only played 11 games with the big club spending most of his time in AHL). Damn, I think I would’ve preferred to overspend ($5.5 M per) to get Tanguay, but I guess we always have to go with the less popular UFA to even get consideration (see Ron Hainsey, Jason Williams etc).

Russian

July 2nd, 2009
11:53 am

Yeah Baby!!!!:-) Nik is ours. Good move. I hope we can get Zherdev or Afinogenov. Maks will be completely new player in our team.
Don< Good job! Old man.

chc4

July 2nd, 2009
11:54 am

We cry and moan about ASG not spending money. Then we sign one of the top Fs left on the market and people complain about overspending? Sheesh… which is it???? I’d much rather give a top 6 F coming off a 29G season this kind of money versus what guys overrated guys like Komisarek (sucks) and Gaborik (always hurt) got.

Smoothie

July 2nd, 2009
11:57 am

Good point Toby, hopefully Nik can be our big, burly “garbage” man on the other side of Kovy. Also, when Pevs gets kicked out of the circle, Antro is more than capable of taking the draw and winning it to Kovy for a one-timer. This could work. And keeping the “original” Little White Russian line together would be ideal after further consideration. Especially with teams having to gear up to play Kovy, Pevs and Antro.

goose

July 2nd, 2009
11:59 am

What a sweet surprise to wake up to.

PUTTING ON THE FOIL

July 2nd, 2009
12:00 pm

Definitely can run a few screens with this guy. Maybe a between the legs roller derby style play with one of our little guys.

Buzilla in CT

July 2nd, 2009
12:02 pm

I like this. Kovy plays well with a big dude in front to shield the goalie. Remember when Thor played on Kovy’s line and did OK for a little bit? I like that he’s Russian and that it shows Kovy we are going in the right direction.

…and we just got a lot bigger. I want a BIG THRASHING Team. Like the old Atlanta Flames…

Keep up the good work Donnie

Suck it LAC

Toby

July 2nd, 2009
12:03 pm

Kovalchuk pushed very hard for Atlanta to sign Antropov
Source: Andy Strickland @ Hockeybuzz

goose

July 2nd, 2009
12:03 pm

Well Antrapov was born in the USSR but in what is now present day Kazakhstan so he he might speak Russian which would be good for when we put him with kovy

R. Stroz

July 2nd, 2009
12:03 pm

I’m OFFICIALLY calling for an END of the BOYCOTT.

The ASG finally ponied up, now it’s our turn to support the team financially.

TableHockey

July 2nd, 2009
12:03 pm

Well DW did say he was 75% certain of signing a top-6 forward this morning.

Sure we paid big but wasn’t that what everyone expected out of free agency?

I like the moves for Antropov and Kubina – I think it definetly makes us a better team.

GTthrashfan

July 2nd, 2009
12:06 pm

@Toby take a look at that top line. We alll know the Little White Russian line, but now we’ve got an AK-47 line. Antropov, Kovy, and #47 Peverly!

PUTTING ON THE FOIL

July 2nd, 2009
12:06 pm

Buzilla- Those were the days, weren’t they? Even if the FLAMES lost, they still rattled some neckbones and won the fights and everyone went home happy.

goose

July 2nd, 2009
12:07 pm

His Wikipedia page is already updated talk about fast.

Buzilla in CT

July 2nd, 2009
12:07 pm

I like the AK-47 line…cleaver

Buzilla in CT

July 2nd, 2009
12:08 pm

Smoothie

July 2nd, 2009
12:08 pm

And for those of you thinking that we’re just picking up the scraps of a basement dweller in TOR, keep in mind that guys like Guerin, Recchi and Federov have gone from good players on lame duck teams to championship caliber (or at least playoff contenders) clubs and contributed mightily. Hopefully, this is just the change of scenery big Nik needs to light a fire under him and drive him to score 30 + goals.

Viking

July 2nd, 2009
12:10 pm

Alan:

“Tell me, would you buy a quart of oil if you have a case of oil in your garage? That doesn’t make much sense, does it? Neither does bringing in a bottom-6 player when you already have a bunch of bottom-6 players.”

It would make sense to get another quart if I need oil for my chainsaw and not to my car… Your analogy would work if we already had good Penalty Killers in our present team or if we (I hope) have good ones coming now from Chicago or wherever.

We allowed 88 shorthanded goals last season. A top PK team would have cut that in half.

But I agree with you about Thorburn.

Bob

July 2nd, 2009
12:10 pm

Antropov at RW or at C? I think this leaves some options with line tinkering.

Kovy-Peverly-Antropov
or
Kovy-Antropov-Little (I like this better as a top line and then skae Kozlov-Peverly-White on the 2nd line)

Ok, the owners may have gotten the message here and have spent some money, I hope Sara and ranallo are happy! Kubina, Antropov, and Dudley all brought in increasing the owner’s money spent (although mabye they spent Hartley’s money that finally fell off on Dudley)

Sign Tanguay and they’ll have to pick me up off the floor.

But even if this is it, we’re not the worst team in the East anymore and could compete for a playoff seed. And most importantly, Kovy could re-sign seeing Antropov with a 4 year deal. Good stuff.

Smoothie

July 2nd, 2009
12:10 pm

We could have an A(rmy) – K(ane) – 19 (Reasy) line as well. A more crude version of the AK-47 with less scoring range and prowess, but that packs a more serious punch than it’s AK-47 cousin. Round it out with some Greek Gods and whatta ya got? Perhaps a playoff team!

NYC

July 2nd, 2009
12:11 pm

Goose – you just woke up??

Buzilla in CT

July 2nd, 2009
12:12 pm

Somebody buy R.Stroz a beer for me at Gorins

Sara

July 2nd, 2009
12:12 pm

Awesome!!!! $4M isn’t too much (not like it’s killing our cap space or anything). 4 years isn’t too long either. That’s the kind of contract that could be moved potentially if needed as well.

I have to really give some props to ASG for ponying up this money. They seem to be taking the possible loss of Kovy seriously. And hopefully this will impress Kovy enough to sign on the dotted line in a couple of weeks as well.

Bob

July 2nd, 2009
12:15 pm

“The ASG finally ponied up, now it’s our turn to support the team financially.”

And I think this validates what you and I have been saying all along, that there’s one thing that will get the owner’s attention, and that’s when you stop going to the games and hit them in the pocketbook.

I’d like to see Waddell gone before I re-up for season tix, but this will get me back to some games (went to 1 last year and paid $20 each for scalped club tix day of game).