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

Alan

July 2nd, 2009
2:51 pm

Also, Grabovski re-signed in Toronto. 3yr, $8.7m

Glovesave29

July 2nd, 2009
2:54 pm

Francois Beauchamin is still out there…wonder why he’s not being mentioned in the rumors. He’s a good, stay at home defenseman.

Ryan312

July 2nd, 2009
3:00 pm

Afinegenov for cheap?

chc4

July 2nd, 2009
3:01 pm

No way we sign another expensive FA. Only way we get another high profile F is through a trade which results in us dropping a big name (Lehtonen?).

chc4

July 2nd, 2009
3:02 pm

Only sign Afinogenov if he pays the ASG for a year. He suuuucks.

Glovesave29

July 2nd, 2009
3:05 pm

Dennis Seidenberg is also lurking…another strong D

Hip Czech

July 2nd, 2009
3:08 pm

OK, we got two big bodies…I still like the idea of pursuing a Kessel deal (and Toronto was supposedly working a Kubina-Kessel deal, how cool would it be to wind up with both of them?).

Pavelec/Slater/and a 3rd rounder for Kessel…we would see how serious the A$G is about spending above the minimum.

Smoothie

July 2nd, 2009
3:09 pm

Don’t ya see, we are not in the market for stay-at-home D-men. Luckily, Kubina and Valabik have some brawn and muscle that will serve us well on the PK. However, it’s now clear that JA wants more versatile D-men who can shoot, pass, skate and play D. Salmela is the hidden gem…I really think he is going to shine this season. It just might not be playing alongside Valabik…it could end up being Oyster or Kulda.

five_hole

July 2nd, 2009
3:12 pm

Glovesave29 I would do the Boston deal in a heartbeat. The question is; would Boston? Rask is going to get $3.2 mil as a backup (and is an RFA next year). On the other hand, Kessell isn’t signed and they’re already over the cap.

OMG I’m so excited I need to call my Argentinian girlfriend.

I’m thinking we’re good for 90+ points this year. We’re not up to Pittsburgh or Boston, but we’re gonna win some games this year!

Tim

July 2nd, 2009
3:15 pm

five_hole: I believe that player cannot sign for more then 20% of cap per season. So the longer Kovy wait, especially if the cap go down next season (which is the current prediction here), the less chance Kovy will have to get same money as Ovie.

five_hole

July 2nd, 2009
3:19 pm

Tim The problem is that we can’t wait until next season’s cap. Kovy will be a UFA next year, so we have to resign him now. So, 20% of this year’s cap is $11.2 mil.

kracker

July 2nd, 2009
3:22 pm

KAL 1st line?

Zoomo

July 2nd, 2009
3:22 pm

Just got out of a meeting and saw the signing news. We needed a big skill player, and Antropov sure fits the big part of that. He can be a bit sluggish with his skating and hustle.

The guy is HUGE. I’m digging the vision of the PP with Kovy firing rockets and Antro providing screens and put backs. I give DW and Dudley high marks for making the type of moves we needed. We’l lsee how they pan out, but I’m pretty happy right now.

I tend to think we may hang on to all 3 goalies now, unless we trade Moose in some kind of package deal for a winger from some team that’s cap maxed. If Kane is capable of makign the teams, Espo might be a nice trading chip as well.

Russian

July 2nd, 2009
3:23 pm

Let me clear some Russian News.
1. Fedorov moved to Russia and he will play with his brother.
2. Viktor Kozlov moved to Russia.
3. Nikulin will not come here. He will stay and play for Kazan Ak-Bars. Please forget about him.
4. Nik Antropov speak same Language as Kovy. It is not different between Kazahstan and Russia.
5. Maks Afinogenov is not Suck. He has to change a system and team. I really like to see him here for one year contarct.
Now it is not a Russian news. Please do not be very optimistic about Kane start to play at 3-d line. it will be very dificult for him. He is young and skinny. I THink we should bring some one from Chikago. Hofman will be great.

Thrashers27

July 2nd, 2009
3:26 pm

Wow! I have to say that I’m very happy to see that DW is improving the team. I don’t know why, but I’m feeling the same optimism about this team as I did a few years ago when I heard that JP Vigier would NOT be offered a contract…raise your hand if you had forgotten about that guy.

goose

July 2nd, 2009
3:26 pm

You know Gretzky was on;y 170 throughout his entire career. I’m not saying Kane is that good but I think we may be worrying over his weight a little too much remeber the kid is only 17 (almost 18) he aint done growing yet.

StateBird

July 2nd, 2009
3:27 pm

Priority now should be signing Kovy. Let him pick his price with the guidance that the higher he picks leaves less for other moves and will largely dictate the competitiveness of the team. If Kovy then sits on the fence that would be a clear indication that he doesn’t want to resign here. If that’s the case then trade him now while you can maximize your return.

Thrashy Thrashy

July 2nd, 2009
3:32 pm

Gretzky wasn’t trying to play a physical game, goose.

Kane needs the added weight to allow him to be a good NHL power forward.

kracker

July 2nd, 2009
3:34 pm

LOL Mark Sanford is such a loser, he’s the punch line on a hockey blog. How sad is that?

Russ

July 2nd, 2009
3:47 pm

I’m not too crazy about Antropov. I like that until last season he has always been a “+” player. I don’t like that he is supposedly going to fill a role of a big, skilled player for one of the top two lines, but is 29 years old and has never had a 60 point season. Probably the biggest plus to the signing is that Kovy wanted it. Anything that might encourage Kovy to re-sign is a good thing, even if I don’t particularly like the player.

I thought the Kubina trade was pretty good and am not as impressed with the Antropov signing. At this point, I think the Thrashers will be improved this season based more on young players improving with experience than because of the trades/signings they have made so far…and if you build the right way through the draft that’s probably how it should be.

Tony C.

July 2nd, 2009
3:47 pm

Scuderi to LAK unconfirmed

Tony C.

July 2nd, 2009
4:07 pm

Also, I think that the Kings moving Johnson yet picking up Scuderi is a GREAT move. Now if they get one more piece upfront (Jokinen?) they’re probably going to hurt some feelings come spring 2k10

Nikita

July 2nd, 2009
4:15 pm

Dammit. I wanted Scuderi.

I think the recent trades are a good thing if only because they got Ex off our roster. Charm and intelligence and history aside, he was not up to standard or anyway never developed to standard on this team. Hopefully he’ll do better elsewhere, and we won’t have him gumming up our D.

As for our trades, I’m happyish with both. We don’t really have a problem in forwards, and we didn’t lose anything that we can’t replace.

Toby

July 2nd, 2009
4:16 pm

I would LOVE to get Kessel, but it’ll take at least Pavs + 1st. Probably more. He had 31 goals, and is only 22 (sounds like Little) and makes only $2.2 next year (then he’s a RFA).

Isn’t PJ Axelsson a UFA? I bet we can get him for cheap and he would take the place of Stuart on the PK

Hip Czech

July 2nd, 2009
4:21 pm

I think Kessel is a RFA now…that’s the rub, the B’s don’t have the money to sign him (he is looking at 4-5 million)….but I could be wrong on that…I was wrong on the Toronto thing, it was almost a Kaberle for Kessel deal. Too many Ks involved.

Glovesave29

July 2nd, 2009
4:27 pm

Toby – pre-cap, I might agree with you..but with the Broooons being over, they will need to consider the best offer out there…even if it doesn’t get them all they want in return. Remember, Savard is a UFA next summer, too.

Forget Axelsson – total underachiever

ranallo10 (in AT)

July 2nd, 2009
4:34 pm

Tony C. — Johnson has been moved from LA? Did I miss something?

Tim

July 2nd, 2009
4:45 pm

five holes: that’s my point. If Kovalchuk wants Ovie money, he have to sign this season. He can’t wait for next season if the cap going to decrease, then he would get less for sure. :)

Alan

July 2nd, 2009
4:49 pm

Dammit. I wanted Scuderi.

And where would we have put him? Kubina’s spot? Eh. I think that’s pushing it. He’s not a top-4, but I would have loved him here as a defensive presence. That said, Kubina fits the system we’re building here better.

Toby

July 2nd, 2009
4:57 pm

Enter your comments here

Toby

July 2nd, 2009
4:58 pm

…and that’s all I got.

(whoops)

Toby

July 2nd, 2009
5:00 pm

Alan

I would of liked to see Scuderi with Valabik on the 3rd with Samela being our 7th, but he probably wouldn’t have signed if that’s the case…

BAF

July 2nd, 2009
5:09 pm

I disagree Toby. I like Samela and believe he is a keeper and a possible Top 4 dman in the future. His game was sharp last year and will only get better in my estimation.

Tony C.

July 2nd, 2009
5:26 pm

ranallo – My bad, there’s a rumor that puts Jokinen, Flames 2nd in 2010 and a prospect for Johnson and another guy from LAK’s farm system I’ve never heard of.

>>>rumor only<<<

Apologies… I’m turning into Eklund.

LAC

July 2nd, 2009
5:31 pm

Good points Glovesleve I agree one of them would be a good fit here…
But hear we are done…. Why ?

Alan

July 2nd, 2009
5:31 pm

That’s pretty much my thoughts on Salmela, BAF. Salmela looked solid when he played here last year, and I think he’s only going to get better this year. Adding Scuderi to our roster, while it would arguably improve the D, would just create a similar logjam that we experienced last year. We jettisoned Exelby to bring in Kubina and make room for Salmela and re-signing Oystrick as our 7th man. It wouldn’t make sense to bring in another D-man at this point.

scottbravesfan

July 2nd, 2009
5:49 pm

Man that sucks we lost Exelby he was one of my favorite players for sure and he liked playing in Atlanta.

Thrashers27

July 2nd, 2009
6:01 pm

Has Oystrick re-signed, Alan, or are you speaking hypothetically?

Brendan

July 2nd, 2009
6:23 pm

I don’t mind Beauchemin; I just think we’re out of money. I second Ranallo (in AT)’s thought process that … until this team is within a couple million of the cap limit, they haven’t changed their business model. They’ve “panicked” at the prospect of losing Kovalchuk (TM, poster Bob, all rights reserved), and done as close to a knee-jerk reaction as the Spirit, LLC is capable of doing. I commend them for tryyyyyying. It’s nice to see them tryyyyying. It’s a welcomed and refreshing change. But this team’s cap hit will probable wind up only in the viscinity of $47-$48 million. The floor is $40.8 million. The ceiling is $56.8 million. That’s still $8-$9 million UNDER the cap. Now, obviously, I do advocate “wiggle room” for the trade deadline in March. But not so much wiggle room that you could park a yacht sideways. Which is what $8-$9 million under the cap is. So, I completely agree with Ranallo, and good citizens of Missouri, that the AS, LLC has to SHOW ME. They do that by being within $3 million of the cap limit on “Opening Night.” Are they going to do that? If so, I applaud them. If they don’t, one can argue that they didn’t really put forth that strong of a campaign to keep Kovalchuk, or show themselves to be “committed ownership, gunning for the Cup.” Which is what Kovy asked them to be.

One final thought on the cap situation … sometimes … there’s a tendency to think a team is finished with its offseason moves by Independence Day (July 4th). Some teams may be OVER the cap limit in September, and be forced to jettison a player or two just to get UNDER the cap by “Opening Night.” If that is the case, we could see trading happening in October. It’s possible. I haven’t reviewed every team’s cap situation. But teams are permitted to be OVER the cap limit … even as we speak. They must be under the limit by the time the season starts. I’m not sure what the fine or penalty is for being over the limit. I think it may be a loss of a draft pick, or picks, and/or hefty fine. It must be substantial … since no team has DARED to test the boundaries of the salary cap limit on Opening Night.

Final thoughts on Exelby. I just want to wish him the best of luck in Toronto. He’s been sheltered a bit here. The Atlanta media doesn’t dog him. Despite being very popular among Thrasher fans, he’s virtually unknown in the city. When he gets to the Mecca, he’ll lose that anonimity. And the media will scrutinize or praise him with much more fervor than in Atlanta. I hope, sincerely, that he does well in Toronto. I’ve always liked him. He signs autographs. He’s friendly. He’s out in the community. If he can’t stay with the Leafs, I hope he finds a good situation somewhere in the NHL. And, for sure, I’m never going to “boo” the guy when he returns to Philips Arena. He was a 7th round pick. 217th overall. Who managed to play “how many games?” in the NHL. He’s fantastically overachieved for his draft position. The numbers aren’t “wow” worthy, but he’s managed to put together an NHL career when … the odds were against it. Good for him. He can tell … anyone who’ll listen … “I once made over a million dollars a year playing hockey in the NHL.” And he won’t be fibbing.

Glovesave29

July 2nd, 2009
6:48 pm

Brendan…I can’t imagine anyone booing X upon his return. He’s certainly done nothing to deserve such a response. He may not have been the most talented guy, but you cannot question his attitude or effort.

I’d like to see us talk to Beauchemin (or Seidenberg) long enough after the UFA open season to perhaps get some discounted rate…bigger bang for the buck. But if we wait to long before the season begins, we risk fighting other clubs for him and missing camp. Give the guy enough time to get he and his family settled here in Atlanta before the season begins.

World Be Free

July 2nd, 2009
7:03 pm

Still out there-Todd Marchant, Chad LaRose, Mike Grier, Dennis Seidenburg, Mikael Samuelson, Derek Morris, Mike Comrie, Ruslan Fedotenko, Travis Moen

Don’t stop shopping now! GEt some dinner and back to the phones!

Gretchelby

July 2nd, 2009
7:28 pm

I never thought my heart would be in Toronto. And before anyone thinks about arguing my point….I am not arguing…talking stats…or injuries so hush for a minute and just breathe and listen. What I am talking about is heart, and Blueland’s heart is in Toronto now. Garnet Exelby has heart. There is not a conceited bone in his body! He was what the NHL spirit is all about. A guy who works his ass off to get to the NHL…and a guy who works his ass off to stay in the NHL. If you have anything negative to say about Garnet Exelby then you never really knew him! This trade hit me like an open ice check……and I am grieving. There’s not another player in the world I would be okay with in trading for him. In my heart he is non-negotiable, and I hope I can still love hockey without his game in front of me every week. As a Thrashers fan I know trades are exciting and I will be happy about Thor resigning, Antropov, and I am sure all the others! As soon as guys tend to put on that powder blue jersey, I tend to like them, at least support them. But X was different to me…as an Exelby fan… I am the best EVER —-I have it in writing :) X brought so much more to me than a hit, fight, or signed stick here or there. I learned the game of hockey thanks to that first shift he took in Atlanta. He was good to his fans, a great guy. He was kind to the community. He showed me more kindness than any athlete is ever required to ever show any fan ever. He went way over and beyond. Garnet Exelby gave every bit of himself on the ice and off! Always did his best even when others did not show up to play! He’s got a beautiful powerful stride and he still hits… a lot!!!! Sometimes 2-3 times a shift! I’ll take that big hit over the boring play we got when he was not playing. He has become a stronger player every year. I think he deserves a lot of credit!!!! I feel it is my duty to give it to him. Thank you Garnet Exelby for going far and beyond. Toronto was smart in choosing him. So, if I seem fair weathered with my Maple Leafs jersey on this year when Toronto comes to town, please realize it is just the opposite! I pray Kubina does well or else I will feel all is lost. He’s a great player……….but he will never replace the X man for me. Good Luck in Toronto X! You deserve the big fan base! Exy Time…….Very Nice! And Rawhide…Thanks for thinking of me first, and the shout out on hockey buzz. This is more difficult for me than I thought it would be. God Speed XLB!

Tony C.

July 2nd, 2009
7:46 pm

WBF- Carolina locked LaRose up about an hour ago. I would’ve liked to have seen us go after him harder, but I think the “old boys club” had let it be known that unless LaRose told Rutherford to get lost, he was NOT “in play”.

World Be Free

July 2nd, 2009
8:21 pm

Thanks Tony-now we can get some character guys, that’s wwhat is left out there. Some guys who can step up and contribute.

TableHockey

July 2nd, 2009
8:43 pm

Gretchelby – do you drive the car that I see at Duluth Ice Forum with all the Exelby stickers :o )

rightshot

July 2nd, 2009
8:47 pm

If this keeps up, like sign one more good free agent, I may plotz! I may even, heaven forbid, buy a ticket package again!

Evander Hossafield

July 2nd, 2009
9:08 pm

LOL, Buzilla, I thought you said “Groins!”

Is it hockey season in Atlanta yet? With two days of big signings, the wait just got that much longer!!

I.C. Wiener

July 2nd, 2009
9:10 pm

Exelby will be missed.

Wait…who is Exelby?

Tom

July 2nd, 2009
9:15 pm

Rightshot,

You and many others. All we ask as fans is that ownership and management care about the team as much as we do.

Waffleboy

July 2nd, 2009
9:53 pm

I like the deal to get Kubina but the only thing I like about Antropov is that Kovy wanted him. If you’re DW right now you listen to Kovy and give him what he wants. But look at the numbers.

Nik Antropov has only played more than 72 games in a season once in his career. Last year, in the final year of his contract. Take that season out and he has averaged only 60 game a seaon at this level, so we know he is injury prone. He’s a number 7 overall pik who has never scored more than 56 points in a single season. He’s a 40-50 point a year guy, not a legit number one center which is what this team needs.

I’m only hoping that someone desperately needs goaltending and has to drop cap space, necessitating a trade. It’s the only way we get a serious top-line center for Kovy.