The Senior Member Of Thrashers Blueline

On July 1 of this year, Garnet Exelby woke up as a member of the Atlanta Thrashers defense. As we all know, he went to sleep that night a Toronto Maple Leaf after playing in 357 games in Atlanta. At the time, that made him the defensive player with the most number of games played as a Thrasher among those who were currently on the roster. But, now that Garnet is no longer with the team, which defender currently on the roster has the most experience playing on Atlanta’s blueline?

Why, with 164 games played, it’s none other than Tobias Enstrom.

Enstrom has played in 164 with the Thrashers (AP photo/Gregory Smith)

Tobias Enstrom has played in 164 with the Atlanta Thrashers (AP photo/Gregory Smith)

In two seasons played, the twenty five year old is yet to miss a start. He has ten goals as well as 60 assists and is a +9 during his career here so far…last season he was a +14.

The second most games played in Thrasher-blue among current defenders is Ron Hainsey, who played in 81 games last season. Third…Boris Valabik with 57 games, followed closely by Nathan Oystrick’s 53 starts with the team. Zach Bogosian has 47 games under his belt here in Thrasherville and then it falls off to Anssi Salmela with nine.

True, Pavel Kubina…traded in exchange for Exelby…does have 746 NHL games to his credit. 552 of those games were with Tampa Bay and the rest with the Leafs. So, clearly he’s the defender with the most overall experience. However, Toby is the one currently on the squad who’s played the most games with this team.

Now…why even make a point of this? Well, I think it says a lot about just how much this blueline has changed over the couple of seasons. Specifically, since the playoff team of 2007.

When the Thrashers ended the 2006-07 season with a 4-2 loss to the New York Rangers in game four of the playoffs…sorry to re-open that old wound…the six defenders that took to the ice for Atlanta were Garnet Exelby, Alexei Zhitnik, Andy Sutton, Nic Havelid, Shane Hnidy and Greg DeVries, who scored a goal that night which actually put Atlanta up 2-1 in the second period.

When the Division Championship banner was raised the next fall, only three of the above-mentioned members of Atlanta’s defense remained…XLB, Zhitnik and Havelid. By the time that season ended, with a 4-1 win over the Bolts, only Havelid and Exelby remained as Zhitnik sat in the press box.

X and Havs started last October…only Garnet finished.

And then, the turnover cycle of the Thrashers defensive corps was then completed on July 1 of this summer with the XLB/Kubina deal…leaving young Toby Enstrom as the “Senior Member of the Thrashers Defensive Corps”.

Its Only Business

Atlanta Hawks beat writer Sekou Smith posted this interview with the Atlanta Spirit’s Michael Gearon, jr regarding this week’s court ruling and the relationship between Steve Belkin, himself and the other six partners.

It’s “business as usual”, the junior Gearon commented. “”Steve has actively participated in meetings that we’ve had, in which our [general managers] have made recommendations and there hasn’t been a situation where there was contention and we did not go in a direction our [general managers] wanted to go.”

Yup…just one big happy family.

Show Me The Money

According to the Falconer, Steve Belkin could be on the hook for $26 million in cash calls…his 30% share that’s been missed during the on-going legal battle between he and the remaining six members of the Atlanta Spirit, L.L.C.

Welcome back, Steve!

Upcoming Events

Last week I told you all about the Party Bus event on October 24 when San Jose comes to town. There is now a link to TJ’s site which gives contact information so you can procure your discount tickets to that game, get aboard the bus and be eligible for prizes including a ride on the Zamboni during intermission of that game.

 So…here is the link. Hope to see ya there!

Also, Mark mentioned us holding a viewing party there for the November 25 game when the Thrashers travel to Detroit. That will be the night before Thanksgiving…so if you’re planning on being in town, mark you calendars and make plans to join the fun there.

121 comments Add your comment

GaVaHokie

August 20th, 2009
11:05 am

GaVaHokie

August 20th, 2009
11:07 am

Oddly, while not great, that 2007 Defensive Corp looks great on paper compared to the current Corp.

Still, I have no doubt that this years SHOULD be the best in team history.

R. Stroz

August 20th, 2009
11:10 am

THIRD, or BRONZE

R. Stroz

August 20th, 2009
11:25 am

Although this is completely off subject, I thought this article is just too funny based on my favorite pseudonyms namesake.

http://www.accessatlanta.com/celebrities-tv/jethro-might-buy-119955.html?cxntlid=sldr_hm

RS

August 20th, 2009
11:27 am

To expand on that team turnover theme, I’m pretty sure there are only two players left on the Thrashers that played with Dan Snyder…Ilya Kovalchuk and Slava Kozlov.

GaVaHokie

August 20th, 2009
11:31 am

A Beverley Hillbillies Casino?!

And they thought hockey in the South was a stupid idea. :)

buzilla in CT

August 20th, 2009
11:32 am

The Earl of Bud

August 20th, 2009
11:33 am

I have a feeling Enstrom & primarily Bogosian will set all sorts of Thrasher team records for defensemen. Add Postma to that and we are bringing up some great guys.

GVH, do you really think the 2007 unit looks better than this year? I think this is the first time in franchise history that we have a legit top 4 with Enstrom/Bogosian and Hainsey/Kubina.

BT, on your Belkin note, it looks like another NHL owner from the sunbelt is looking at selling one sports franchise to pay for another – http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/spt/stories/081909dnspostars.4012e93.html

Maybe that $26 mil he is on the hook for can convince Stevie B to sell his stake.

Alan

August 20th, 2009
11:33 am

Alan

August 20th, 2009
11:33 am

Hah. An avalanche of comments came forth. That’ll teach me to refresh before being a smartass.

Nikita

August 20th, 2009
12:18 pm

I guess technically Matthieu Schneider looks better than some of the kids we brought in. But we all know how that played out. We could do a lot worse than senior statesman Toby. Someone refresh my memory — what did we do with Oystrick? I think our blueline success is going to depend on a) how the guys we brought in do and b) how Hainsey does — because I’m not happy with his play in the second half at all.

Rawhide

August 20th, 2009
12:27 pm

Nikita – How the heck you been?

As for Oystrick, he signed a 2-year deal and is scheduled to be a UFA in the summer of 2011.

World Be Free

August 20th, 2009
12:31 pm

All I can tell you is that Jethro’s real life old man was one heck of a fighter. see Cinderella Man.

World Be Free

August 20th, 2009
12:33 pm

Back to vets again-not sure wlch provides the veteran “D” depth we need. Maybe look for another vet on a 2-way contract.

Nikita

August 20th, 2009
12:33 pm

Traveling, alas…I may be rooting for the Thrashers from enemy territory next year. But good.

And thanks for the update.

I’m pretty confused on Valabik and Oystrick. Oystrick doesn’t look on paper to be a great choice, but I like the kid. I like his dependability and mental steadiness, and I suspect he’s a late bloomer. Valabik I don’t know about. I know we don’t want to walk away from such a high draft pick, but I don’t think his mental game is good enough. Hopefully I’ll be proven wrong in the next season.

Smoothie

August 20th, 2009
12:33 pm

Hainsey will be fine as he will be playing with a guy in Kubina who meshes better with his style of play. Boris, at times, and XLB certainly were making things quite difficult for Ronsey and I think he got worn down mentally and physically by January. But I thought he played much better in March even with Valabik (Sabres game on 3/14 notwithstanding) in tandem. Valabik finally started to look more decisive and confident in the system by the final 3 weeks of the season.

GaVaHokie

August 20th, 2009
12:45 pm

EOB… I’m just thinking that Havelid-Zhitnik, Sutton-DeVries, Hnidy-Exelby looked like a fairly sturdy defense on paper. Should have performed much better than what it actually did.

Side note: Amazing how you take Zhitnik out, and there’s not a puck-mover in the group.

We’ll have to see how our Top 4 this year perform first, I suppose… again it SHOULD be the best in history, but again, it’s still “on paper”.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XR14hsxNbm0&feature=related

GaVaHokie

August 20th, 2009
12:48 pm

Smoothie… there was a pretty remarkable difference in Hainsey’s performance when he had Liles in the World’s this summer. So, I agree, he should mesh well with Kubina.

ranallo10 (in AT)

August 20th, 2009
1:12 pm

“Hicks built that [franchise value of $273 million] after buying the team for $84 million in 1996 by spending money and producing winners.”

There’s a surprise…

The Earl of Bud

August 20th, 2009
1:30 pm

Smoothie, I think Hainsey is great when paired with the right guy. His +/- was remarkably different based on who his partner was. As GVH says I think he will be much better with Kubina.

WBF, we will have Hainsey & Kubina who are true vets. We have Enstrom which as shown above is going towards being a good vet. And then there is Bogosian who plays like a long time vet. Compare that to the Blackhawks who going into last year had Campbell (6 full years NHL experience before last season), Barker (2 half seasons NHL experience), Keith (3 years) and Seabrook (3 years) as their top 4 defensemen. They went to the conference finals with those guys. I am more than happy with our top 4 and then you have Salmela/Oystrick/Valabik to fight for the last two spots not to mention Kulda/Postma for call up games. We don’t need another defenseman on this roster. We need a 3rd line LW and a healthy goaltender or Pavelec to play like a pro.

GaVaHokie

August 20th, 2009
1:40 pm

EOB… don’t forget Welch and Vernace.

Good points about the Blackhawks.

GaVaHokie

August 20th, 2009
1:48 pm

FYI… in case no one else noticed… I didn’t… Clay Wilson signed with the Panthers as a UFA.

So, we only got a 6th Round pick for Jason Williams, losing Clay Wilson for nothing… oh well.

GaVaHokie

August 20th, 2009
1:58 pm

And actually, I believe that 6th Round pick ended up being the “conditional” draft pick in the Schneider trade. I don’t see where Atlanta used it, unless we used it to move up or down in the draft.

The Earl of Bud

August 20th, 2009
1:59 pm

GVH, I see Welch as a Wolves signing to help that club. I don’t see him competing for a spot here any more that Joel Kiwi did last year. Vernace I see here even less.

I am not worried at all about Clay Wilson leaving. Given Williams left the Blue Jax they lost a pick and Wilson for nothing, right? And with Eaves and Bertuzzi signing in Detroit who’s to say Williams 1 year deal will be extended? Either way he wasn’t working out here so at least we got a pick instead of cutting him outright. Now O’Dell for Christensen might turn out to be a diamond in the rough type of trade.

Chuck Noland

August 20th, 2009
2:06 pm

WILSON!!!!!!

GaVaHokie

August 20th, 2009
2:08 pm

Should have just checked Wikipedia in the first place…

*The San Jose Sharks’ sixth-round pick went to the Chicago Blackhawks as the result of a trade on June 27, 2008 that sent a fifth-round pick in 2010 to the Atlanta Thrashers in exchange for this pick. Atlanta previously acquired this pick as the result of a trade on January 14, 2009 that sent Jason Williams to the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for Clay Wilson and this pick.
Columbus previously acquired this pick in a trade on January 29, 2008 that sent Jody Shelley to San Jose for this pick

So, we get a 5th round pick now in 2010… Chicago drafted David Pacan… keep an eye out. :)

GaVaHokie

August 20th, 2009
2:12 pm

So, Columbus lost Jody Shelley, Clay Wilson, Jason Williams and a Sixth Round pick for nothing… well, a first round sweep in the playoffs, at least.

World Be Free

August 20th, 2009
2:12 pm

Looking for veteran depth-Welch not enough.
Same case as with forwards-we will need the depth in January and February when bodies breakdown.

Like the Hawks “d” alot.

Nikita

August 20th, 2009
2:12 pm

Actually, we need a 4th line. Our 3rd is more or less o.k., and has two of our strongest and most consistent forward-puck movers. While our 4th has three guys who should expect to take their game to the next level or get replaced by the likes of Josh Gratton.

Nikita

August 20th, 2009
2:26 pm

P.S. I like what we have depthwise in forwards. And if we need a 3rd line LW, maybe Sterling?
I hope we get Machacek into a Thrashers uniform. We need his forechecking game.

The Earl of Bud

August 20th, 2009
2:33 pm

GVH, I was trying to follow that trail of picks as well but lost it. The most important thing that I got out of all that was that we got Jeremy Morin for Schneider, or in other words, Morin for Ken Klee. I call that a win even if he is a bust.

WBF, who do you want to sign on D and where do you wan to put them on opening night? Our top 4 is set and we have 3 guys fighting for the last 2 spots. We also have some guys in Chicago like Kulda who are waiting for a shot. I just don’t see the need for another signing on D. Who do you get rid of to make room? Who are you expecting us to sign or hoping that we sign?

The Earl of Bud

August 20th, 2009
2:34 pm

Nikita, Sterling is not a checker, we need someone to throw their body around for the 3rd line. I am afraid that Sterling is a AAAA player.

Nikita

August 20th, 2009
2:42 pm

Sterling is small, but scrappy. Anyone who’s reasonably competent should do great with Army and Reasoner. Especially someone with a less physical game, but better sniping ability. Who would you slot in?

The Earl of Bud

August 20th, 2009
2:45 pm

I would hope we get a Malhotra or Moore to slot in there or perhaps Kane earns that spot as was previously hinted at. Stuart coming back is another option or even Joey Crabb is better than Sterling for that position. We don’t need a sniper on the 3rd line, we need someone who can pot the occasional goal but be real physical against the other team’s top line.

Rawhide

August 20th, 2009
2:45 pm

Gotta agree with EOB on the Sterling issue. he’s been given opportunities and it hasn’t worked out very well. I would rather see Kane, Crabb or Stewart there right now.

My lineup would look like this:

Forwards
Kovy – Peverley – Antropov
Kozlov – White – Little
Kane/Crabb/Stewart – Reasoner – Army
Boulton – Slater – Thorburn

Defense
Hainsey – Kubina
Bogosian – Enstrom
Valabik, Salmela or Oystrik make up 3rd line

The Earl of Bud

August 20th, 2009
2:50 pm

BT that’s exactly how I look at the lineup. That 3rd line LW is still open and then 2 out of those bottom 3 defensemen (Salmela & Oystrick the frontrunners with Valabik competing) will make up the 3rd pair.

R. Stroz

August 20th, 2009
3:07 pm

WBF – Max Baer was a great boxer and could have been one of the best boxers ever. Unfortunately for Baer, he was arrogant and failed to train properly. Braddock took advantage of Baer’s failure to train for the fight.

My uncle is a former golder gloves boxer so I’ve heard about every pugilist’s strenghs and weaknesses from Jack Johnson forward.

Anyway, back to hockey, after watching Morin at propspect camp, I couldn’t believe he fell that far into the second round. The guy has a shot which rivals Kovy in velocity. Morin will give a new meaning to capping a guys knee when a d-man is crazy enough to block his shot.

Smitty

August 20th, 2009
3:21 pm

I do not think we need another defenseman. We can use that money to help sign some of the FAs we will have next year. The defenseman we have now should do and there are a couple waiting in the wings in Chicago.

As for the third line LW, why not give Kane a shot. What better guys are there than Reassoner and Army to help him out.

R. Stroz

August 20th, 2009
3:36 pm

Hip Czech

August 20th, 2009
3:58 pm

I also don’t see the need for another D ‘depth’ signing. I hate to say it, but I’m comfortable with the roster as it is, there’s a good mix of veterans and youth…and some size for once. A legit top 4 D corp and I’m OK with the top 6 forwards (as long as Todd White can come close to what he did last year)…let training camp begin.

Not that it counts for a whole lot, but where our fantasy hockey league is (CBS Sports) they have a ranking of the top 60 D men…guess which is the only team to have 4 players in the top 60….yep, YOUR ATLANTA THRASHERS.

Glovesave29

August 20th, 2009
4:04 pm

Stroz – how is Morin’s release?

What makes Kovy so deadly is he deadly quick on the shot release. The shot is on its way before the goalie can get set. Shot speed along will not cut it.

dwayne

August 20th, 2009
4:40 pm

BT, like your line up…. except for Doris and Samella, maybe a veteran to play with Samella.
I have a ? for anyone and all.
Blocked Shots. Why does a d-man get credit for a blocked “shot” if, once its blocked, it never makes it to the net? A shot on goal is not rewarded to a player if his shot misses the net, goalie or post.?.?

R. Stroz

August 20th, 2009
4:42 pm

Glovesave29 – Heavy, quick, and accurate.

The Earl of Bud

August 20th, 2009
5:01 pm

Smitty, while my first instinct is to shriver at the thought of Kane playing on the 3rd line, isn’t that better than him playing another year of juniors?

Hip Czech, I didn’t even think of going to my fantasy rankings. I am probably not going to play this year but I still have access to the league rankings for the opening draft. We should be the only team with all of our top 4 ranked high.

Dwayne, I don’t understand your question. Someone shot the puck and it was blocked, ergo a “blocked” shot. If it still hit the net then it wouldn’t be that good of a block, would it? Don’t you want your defensemen laying down in front of the shooter to help the goalie? If a puck is consistently not getting to the net because a defenseman is laying down in front of the shooter, isn’t that something worth tracking? Oh yeah, my money is on Oystrick beating out Valabik.

Hip Czech

August 20th, 2009
5:08 pm

EOB, I think the question was – if a shot that hits the post or goes wide of the net does NOT count as a shot on goal, then how can a dman get credit for a blocked shot for that same ’shot’?

I always wondered why a shot that hits the post is NOT counted as a SOG…how much more ‘on goal’ can you get???

Smitty

August 20th, 2009
5:53 pm

EOB Another year of junior for Kane will not help. He needs more of a challenge. I think he has the size and the competetive edge to make the jump. We get to keep him for a few games before the decision to return him to juniors. Give him a shot even if it costs us a few bucks down the road.

Viking

August 20th, 2009
6:07 pm

EOB and Hip Czech, With the risk of sounding stupid – if I am wrong – “blocked shots” are earned when a player is blocking a shot fired by an opposing player and has nothing to do with own shooting ability.

dwayne

August 20th, 2009
6:13 pm

Thank you Hip Czech, maybe the “stat” should be a blocked puck…doesn’t sound right does it. I agree with the “post” comment, maybe the O-fense is trying to be a little finer with their shots. Maybe cause the goalie has been on a hot streak.

[...] defenseman on Atlanta who has played the most games as a Thrasher is none other than Tobias Enstrom.  Well, it’s not like the team’s defense has been anything to write home about over [...]

Glovesave29

August 20th, 2009
6:31 pm

Stroz – can appreciate quick and accurate. But how can you tell it is heavy without being the one being hit by it?

D men tend to have heavier shots because the puck is closer to the back leg and use the middle of the blade when they fire off a slapper from the blue line. They are trying to keep it low and hope for a rebound and/or deflection. Forwards tend to shoot more toward the front leg and use the toe of the blade to get lift, thus even a hard shot tends not to be too “heavy”