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

Toby

July 2nd, 2009
12:15 pm

LOL @ GTthrashfan

Darkhorse

July 2nd, 2009
12:17 pm

Based on what FA were out there, and what they were going to cost, this is not a bad deal at all for us. We’re still a hard sell for FA to come to, but adding Antropov at a reasonable number here is goon IMO.

Think that his number is about 500k more than I wanted to bring him in for, but 4mil is a helluv a lot better than 5mil or more.

Darkhorse

July 2nd, 2009
12:19 pm

That’s “good” I meant to say. Not “goon” like the Leafs now.

All things aside, I still don’t see him as a legit #1 center at all. But another problem for another day.

Tony C.

July 2nd, 2009
12:27 pm

RT@Custance:

craigcustance: Like the fit of Nik Antropov in ATL. Price isn’t too bad for what he brings: 4-years, $16 million. He played w/Kovy in lockout.

mr. mike

July 2nd, 2009
12:30 pm

I’m really thrilled with the signing of Antropov. I see 30 goals per annum from Nik; and I think he’s a better “match” for this club than Tanguay. Also was concerned about tanguay’s rather serious production fall-off over the last 3 seasons.
Good job, Don.(Don’t say that too often). Sure do wish(I know; there’s no pleasin’ some folks) that we could have packaged Lehts or Pavelec to Philly and somehow acquired Knuble. He crashes the net like no one we’ve ever had here save Brunette or Tkachuk.

J(Z)

July 2nd, 2009
12:37 pm

So we’ve got 4 nicknamed lines already
AK-47 (Antropov/Kovy/Pev)
Little White Russian
Noah’s ARK (Army/Reasoner/Kane) – ok, this one needs some work
Greek Gods

Sara

July 2nd, 2009
12:40 pm

Bob – I don’t want to necessarily invalidate completely your idea that by boycotting games you forced the owners hand but in all honesty I think the real motivator behind the spending spree is Ilya Kovalchuk. He made his ultimatum crystal clear at the end of the year and even Spirit cannot be dense enough to get the ramifications of Kovy walking out the door next off-season.

But to respond to your earlier comment – yes, I am quite pleased with Spirit’s agreement to commit more money to this franchise this season. Although I wonder if Stroz’s theory from a few weeks back will still hold true – that our fortune will come at the misfortune of the Hawks. Anybody that follow them know what that spending is looking like this year in comparison to last?

Toby

July 2nd, 2009
12:46 pm

If we can sign Kovy in the next few weeks and trade a goalie for a great prospect, I’ll consider this summer a success

R. Stroz

July 2nd, 2009
12:48 pm

Sara – The Atlanta Hawks haven’t re-signed Mike Bibby yet. Bibby cost the Hawks 15 million/year.

Riceowls8891

July 2nd, 2009
12:54 pm

So, Rawhide, is it time to print that column about DW you have written and hoped you could print? :)

(I think its too early until the team performs, but I am hopeful).

Rawhide

July 2nd, 2009
12:59 pm

Riceowls8891 – I’ll put it this way…I think waddell and Dudley have had a very, very good 24 hours.

Alan

July 2nd, 2009
1:00 pm

Stroz, ouch. That doesn’t sound good for the Hawks.

I hope your theory on spending (Hawks up = Thrashers down, and vice versa) isn’t proven true. I don’t follow basketball, but if drawing fans results in more money, it should be in the owners best interest to spend some to sign high tier free agents to make the team better, as opposed to improving one and disregarding the other.

ranallo10 (in AT)

July 2nd, 2009
1:01 pm

Perhaps I’m being stubborn but until the ownership floats a team $5M over the salary cap floor for multiple seasons I will not consider them “opening their pocket books”. Correct me if I’m wrong, but the team is still under the salary cap floor so that $4M (Antropov’s contract) had to be spent. I can’t give someone props for fulfilling obligations.

However Bob, I think your previous posts are some of the easiest to agree with that I’ve seen. I have no problem admitting that ownership is acting like a real ownership group if they give Waddell the ability to spend like a real GM would, and once that happens I would easily admit that all blame could rest solely on Waddell. Such a change would be the “fundamental change in business model” that I have harped about, and would prove your argument that Waddell is the true problem. Without one, the other cannot happen.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves…the team is still at $38.5M with some players left to sign (the big one being Lehtonen). We’ll see how tight those purse-strings are pulled once they get around the cap floor.

Puckwench (aka Mrs. DWTOO)

July 2nd, 2009
1:01 pm

I like the Antropov deal. I’m hoping Kovalchuk will light a fire under him since Nik is also Russian(Kazakhstan) if they speak even remotely the same language. I’m thinking Antropov will fit into Anderson’s system nicely, too.

Thrashers27

July 2nd, 2009
1:01 pm

Good pick-up…I’m just wondering how all of these pieces will fit together now. Unless, Antropov is okay playing on the RW, this creates a log jam at center.

Sara

July 2nd, 2009
1:13 pm

ranallo – the one thing I would say in response to your “they are still being cheap overall” is that they have to leave reasonable padding for future re-signings. Kovy alone could jump the cap $3-$3.5M per season with a new contract. Little and Bogosian won’t be far off for new contracts that will also likely translate into $4-$5M easily in cap space. What’s Pevs gonna cost us next season? Those are all cheap guys right now that won’t remain so. Assuming we either re-sign or replace Kozzie for similar $$, you are still looking at $7-$8.5M more in salary soon on the way. Spirit has to know that’s coming and must be preparing to commit to it (and probably praying like hell that the team plays well enough to bring most if not all of it in through ticket sales).

Toby

July 2nd, 2009
1:19 pm

Thrashers27

I believe he’s played most of his career (especially lately) as a RW

h

July 2nd, 2009
1:19 pm

Antro is someone I wanted all along…….love the pick up……September can’t come fast enough…….for the first time DW said what he needed and he got it……now it is time to perform. Go THRASH!!!

ranallo10 (in AT)

July 2nd, 2009
1:19 pm

“Assuming we either re-sign or replace Kozzie for similar $$”

There’s the biiiiiiig IF in your statement. There’s no reason to assume that his money wont be portioned out to help cover the costs of those other contracts. There’s also no reason to think that Kubina will re-sign at $5M annually, that Lehtonen will be a Thrashers through March, etc.

Too many assumptions for me to give this group credit for doing something they should’ve been doing all along.

Hiring someone to be an associate GM (heir apparent in my opinion) was a step in the right direction for them. Opening the pocket book consistently is another step. However, they need to prove they know the definition of “accountability” and “enabling” before I’ll give them praise towards how they run this hockey franchise.

Chris

July 2nd, 2009
1:21 pm

Stroz–The Hawks did trade away Speedy Claxton (the NBA version of Zhitnik–11 million a year not to play) and Acie Law for Jamal Crawford. They cleared like 3 million off their roster by trading 2 guys who never played for a 20 point per game player who wants to be in Atlanta. They also drafted a point guard in the draft this year.

For the first time in a long time, I can’t complain with what EITHER GM is doing who is employed by the ASG.

English Teacher

July 2nd, 2009
1:24 pm

When was the last time someone posted “Fire Waddell!”? I keep thinking I’m on the wrong blog…

Buzilla in CT

July 2nd, 2009
1:28 pm

NASCAP Dave should be posting soon, I am sure

BAF

July 2nd, 2009
1:32 pm

No logjam on the Thrashers w/ centers. When you don’t have a Crosby or Malkin, it is good to have competition at Center. Sure beats a few years ago when Perrin was our best option at center.

Pevs, Slater, Antropov can all play RW. White and Reasoner, mark them down as Center. Thor and Little also came up as centers but can flourish on the wing with their respective games and are doubtful to overtake Pevs, Slater and Antropov.

Find the right line combination and then go with it. This team now has flexibility. Still would like to have a superstar at Center, but those are very hard to come by and more often than not are produced through the draft.

five_hole

July 2nd, 2009
1:34 pm

I’ve been in shock for the last day. We actually signed a legit top forward and we traded for a d-man that should make our 1st pairing.

We . . . . got better?!?

I’m not used to this.

Is this Dudley’s influence?

Smoothie

July 2nd, 2009
1:47 pm

“Correct me if I’m wrong, but the team is still under the salary cap floor so that $4M (Antropov’s contract) had to be spent. I can’t give someone props for fulfilling obligations.”

Ranallo, this is what I’ve got now that we know the numbers on Thorby.

Forwards: 9 Full-time signed @ $20.365 M
Blueline: 5 Full-time signed @ $14.738 M
Goalies: 1 F/T & 1 P/T in Pavs @ $1.445 M (I have Pavs with the big club 25% of the season)
Zhitty Bang-Buyout: $1.167 M
Total Salary to Date: $37.715 M

Now, onto my guesses for the rest of the roster.

Forwards: Army ($2.5 M cap hit); Slates @ $875 K; Kane (1/3 of season which is quite optimistic) @ $300 K; Crabb (75%) @ $450 K; McMacho & Sterling (other 2/3 and 25%) @ approx $ 700 K

To make it easy, let’s go with $5 M (I rounded up) for the rest of the forwards on the roster.

Defense: Valabik @ $925 K; Oystie / Kulda / Lewis @ approx $575 K which gives us a cool and even $1.5 M

That puts us right around $44.215 M before we consider the goalie situation and Kari Lehtonen’s new deal.

I think the consensus is that Kari’s tender will be in the neighborhood of $3.5 M per year. If he plays for the Thrashers this year, he will likely be on the roster 100% (even if hurt for stretches) so we can count on his full salary. Now, if we trade Moose at the deadline, that will give us back about 25% of his salary, which is $272 K. Pavs’ salary for 25% of the season is $212.5 K without bonuses. That’s pretty much a wash. But for ease of number crunching, let’s round up to $4.5 M for goalies during this season.

The net effect of the above goalie scenario is a total P/R cap hit of approximately $47.25 M. I’d say that’s a pretty decent commitment and it still affords the ASG some flexibility at the deadline if we are out of the hunt. Jettisoning Kubina would get them back roughly $1.25 M.

I would love to see them spend to $50 M and bring back Kari and trade Pavs for more depth at forward to sure up the 3rd line in the event Kane can’t make the roster out of camp. Someone mentioned a player like Travis Moen and I would think we could bring him in for $1.5 – 2 M per season if so desired.

BAF

July 2nd, 2009
1:49 pm

Here is how it should be.

Kovy-Pevs-Antropov
Slava-White-Little
??-Reasoner-Army
Boulton-Slater-Thor

Bogo-Toby
Hainsey-Kubina
Salmella-Valibik

This team can finish 2nd in the SE easily with either Kari or Pavelec and make the playoffs. PP will be excellent. PK will need to improve with a different system not allowing teams to come over the blueline so easily and attack on the mid-wall boards with the forwards. Would be nice the missing LW be strong on the PK to make up for Dupuis from two years ago and Stuart last year.

2009-2010 – Falcons, Hawks and Thrashers make the playoffs. Mark it down

Viking

July 2nd, 2009
1:50 pm

I like the current goalie situation.

“The 5 goalie situation” we had a few years back is still lingering in my mind when I see anything written about trading one of our goalies with a non-goalie in return. The past has shown us that it is not unlikely we will see a goalie injury during the next 82 (and hopefully more) games.

Lehtonen is (as any other goalie) going to show improved numbers with a better defense in front of him. Hedberg is a great backup, especially with his strength at shootouts. Then we have the young and still learning Pavelec, who would be ready if things go wrong. (Pavelec might not like to remain in Chicago for another year, but I feel he is not yet ready to be a starting NHL goalie – or he is simply not that great.)

Next year, Lehtonen has had the chance to show what he can do in a better defensive environment. Hedberg will retire, and perhaps become our goalie coach. And Pavelec is hopefully by then a fullblown NHL Goalie.

It might be a too big of an “out of the box thought”, but unless you possess a mega star goal keeper as a Number One, I think it is an option to use a couple of “1 1/2 goalies”, who are alternating. Or at least we should not put such an emphasis on “Goalie Number One” in 2010-11.

five_hole

July 2nd, 2009
1:51 pm

Looking at the $$$ – Right now we’re at $38 mil with RFA’s to be signed. I already listed them previously but that should be another $10 mil which takes us to $48. Everyone wanted an Antropov type in order to entice Kovy to resign. He’s at $7.5 now, and would want Ovechkin-type money, which I believe is $11. So add another $3.5 and we now have a $51+ million dollar budget coming from the ASG.

Sorry, I don’t believe it.

I think Antropov’s signing neccessitates trading Lehtonen (and dumping his salary).

Buzilla in CT

July 2nd, 2009
2:03 pm

Has everyone written off Esposito already? Isn’t there a possibility that this kid can make the team out of training camp?

Kovy-Pev-Andoid
Kozzy-white-little
Kane-Reasoner-Army
Boulton-Espo- Thor

see if the kid’s got something. If so, package White in Boris’s cup and send him off for some picks and pucks.

Bob

July 2nd, 2009
2:03 pm

“I don’t want to necessarily invalidate completely your idea that by boycotting games you forced the owners hand but in all honesty I think the real motivator behind the spending spree is Ilya Kovalchuk”

Ha! I knew you were going to respond that way, and while true, keep this in mind: the only reason they want to keep Kovy is to keep the fans coming to games to watch him, so they go together . . .the learned that Kovy alone is not enough to get us to go to games (all the empty seats last year) and now were faced with Kovy leaving as well = more empty seats.

“Such a change would be the “fundamental change in business model” that I have harped about, and would prove your argument that Waddell is the true problem.”

Yep, and now if we still suck, we can all agree where the problem truly lies, right? Keep in mind also that the owners already gave the Wad max cap to spend their first year in ownership and near max cap the 2nd year, and no results. Hopefully Wadley, err, Dudell can do a better job going forward.

BAF

July 2nd, 2009
2:04 pm

Does White have a no trade clause in his contract?

Smoothie

July 2nd, 2009
2:07 pm

Even if you let Kari walk, you really only save about $2 M per season as Pavelec would surely earn all of his bonuses to get to $1.46 M. Frankly, I don’t see the point of giving up on a guy who is a potential franchise goalie (with a better D in front of him) just to save $2 M. It’s not like we’re going to go out and sign Tanguay or Koivu next.

The Hawks will not re-sign Mike Bibby. They will find a FA back-up to replace him and Flip Murray. A rotation of Crawford, JJ, Teague, Mo and a FA is more than adequate. And the Hawks shouldn’t break the bank on a FA center because good ones don’t really exist!

Tony C.

July 2nd, 2009
2:12 pm

BAF-no, but he’s really a versatile guy. He has shown he can put up points, when given the TOI and linemates-also he’s a proven PK guy (although we don’t really want to burn him out on the PK)-I wonder if Sterling’s desire to be a full-time NHLer is such that he’d take and make the sacrifices to be a PK guy.

Buzilla in CT

July 2nd, 2009
2:13 pm

It will be interesting to see if we keep Kari and he faces 10-15 less shots a game. I have a feeling this will be his year that it all comes together for him (optimistic I realize) But without optimism you have LAC…

Rawhide

July 2nd, 2009
2:14 pm

BAF – Insert “Kane” where you have “???” in your lineups and I agree with you.

Adam

July 2nd, 2009
2:14 pm

When you’re talking the budget ASG can afford (or is willing) to spend the cap is meaningless. Players under contract get payed if still with the team unless they get traded, even if all of their salary doesn’t go against the cap because they get sent down.

Get The Puck Out

July 2nd, 2009
2:19 pm

Has anyone heard anything about what Nikulin is doing ?

Toby

July 2nd, 2009
2:23 pm

RH

You don’t think Kane should have another year in the juniors? One more year and he can pack on another 15-20 lbs. 175 is too small to play power forward…

Rawhide

July 2nd, 2009
2:29 pm

Toby – If the roster stays the way it is now, I would say “No”…play Kane here on the third line. Now, if we were to bring in another top-six forward…then maybe you have a point.

Buzilla in CT

July 2nd, 2009
2:29 pm

Let’s get Federov to play between Kovy and Android.

Billsen

July 2nd, 2009
2:31 pm

Jacques Strapp

July 2nd, 2009
2:33 pm

Oh no! Theese eez no good! Kubina? Antropov? Why, we might juzt be good enough to not geet a lottery draft peek next summare. I thought that eez what we alwayz play for, no?

R. Stroz

July 2nd, 2009
2:35 pm

Zilla – Fedorov signed with a team in the KHL.

Smoothie

July 2nd, 2009
2:36 pm

Oh dang, I just thought of something. Chad LaRose hasn’t re-signed and reports by Spector are that he likely will not be returning to Carolina. There is your 3rd line LW to play with Marty and Colby.

Then we could have a traditional checking line known as the CCM line! Tell Reebok to take a hike and put CCM unis on the 3rd line so teams will know they are about to get a beat-down! ;-)

Glovesave29

July 2nd, 2009
2:37 pm

Toronto is trashing us for spending $4M on Antro, and they are celebrating Grabovski at $2.9M? OK, that makes sense!

Keep Kane here. The dude had a chip on his shoulder after he was added to the Canada roster having initially been a cut. We need that attitude here. If he gets 6-8 mins a game at the NHL level, he will certainly mature far beyond whatever first line minutes he will get in the WHL.

I’d love to see us add Tanguay, then see if Boston would take Pavalec and a 3rd for Kessel. They have to dump salary, Fernandez is gone and Thomas is 35.

That’s a pretty decent team – good for a 6 to 8 seed and the (gulp) return to the playoffs.

BAF

July 2nd, 2009
2:38 pm

Thanks Tony C.

Having a conversation of what would make sense if DW traded a goalie at this point now that we got both a Top4 D and a Top6 Forward. What I said is the only way I would trade a goalie right now would be a package deal with White for a superstar center. Now, I don’t know who that superstar center would be but that White is the only player on the team I think would be attractive to another team packaged with a goalie.

I say hold onto both Kari and Ondrej until the trade deadline.

R. Stroz

July 2nd, 2009
2:38 pm

Per Custance:

Chris Thorburn deal breakdown: $630,000 the first year, $690,000 the second year

Alan

July 2nd, 2009
2:40 pm

Toby, if he can prove he belongs here, I have no problem with him being here. It’s can’t be that hard to put on 15 pounds in three months.

To top it off, even if he doesn’t manage to put on 15lbs, I’m sure we’re going to keep him here for as long as we can. I’m pretty sure he loses juniors eligibility after 10 NHL games, so anytime before then may see him bidding Atlanta farewell until next season.

kracker

July 2nd, 2009
2:42 pm

Tony C. “I wonder if Sterling’s desire to be a full-time NHLer is such that he’d take and make the sacrifices to be a PK guy.”

If he can stay up and make, say, 7 or 8 times his AHL salary I’d say he would, absent any other NHL options. I doubt that he think’s he’s out of options at this point. I think I’d rather bring Crabb back.

R. Stroz

July 2nd, 2009
2:47 pm

I’d love to be at a Thrashers practice watching Big Boris amd Android battle for postion in front of the net.