Can Mark Pop A Surprise?

As the Thrashers players took to the ice at the Duluth Ice forum Sunday, one player that I had my eye on was former Atlanta defenseman Mark Popovic. Recently, the 6’-1”, 210 pound native of Stoney Creek, Ontario was invited back to tryout for a spot on the Thrashers blueline.

When we last saw Pops play at the NHL level, it was during that dreadful 2007-08 season in which Atlanta’s defensive corps  finished last in GA/A, (3.24), last in SA/G, (33.9) and fourth to last in killing penalties, (78.8%). I think we can all agree that was an era of Thrashers history that we all just wish could be ripped out of the hockey record books, shredded, burned and the ashes sent adrift down the river of forgetfulness and sent over It Never Happened Falls.

However, even though the Thrashers finished with a record of 34-40-8 that year, when Mark was skating on the blueline Atlanta played to a slightly better record of 15-15-3.

The 33 starts made by Popovic that year were the most games he played in Atlanta and he accounted for a pair of assists and 10 penalty minutes to go with his –4 rating. He appeared in 3 games in the year following the lockout and 7 the year after that. He also played one game with Anaheim in 2003-04 season.

So, if the 07-08 campaign is the only real year to make a judgment on his abilities, certainly that would qualify the man for a Mulligan, wouldn’t you say?

He played for two years with the John Anderson-coached Chicago Wolves where he played in 138 games scoring 28 goals and 50 assists in Anderson’s system and racking up 117 PIM. During 15 playoff games in 2007 he netted 3 goals and 9 overall points.

Will Mark Popovic earn a spot in the Thrashers' lineup?

  • Yes! He's good enough to play here. (26%, 15 Votes)
  • No! He's Chicago-bound. (37%, 21 Votes)
  • feh...He's got as good of a chance as the rest. (37%, 21 Votes)

Total Voters: 57

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Last year he played with the KHL’s St. Petersburg SKA where he accounted for 8 goals and 14 assists with 40 penalty minutes during 52 regular season games…no points and a single minor penalty in 3 playoff games.

Now, he’s back on the Thrashers’ practice ice and is looking to land a roll within the organization. If nothing else, Pops adds another level of depth for this defensive corps…one in which the term “depth” has more times than not been defined as “how deep in a hole its play can land the team in the standings”.

But this year is a bit different. With the acquisition of Pavel Kubina, the top two pairings of Hainsey-Kubina & Enstrom Bogosian are as solid as we’ve seen in these parts. Then there is Oystrick, Valabik and Salmela that could have easily made up the three D-men left to ice a third pairing and provide adequate patronage of the buffet spread up in the press box.

The team had also brought in Noah Welch earlier in the summer and had the likes of Arturs Kulda and Grant Lewis in the system as well. But you add in a player like Popovic to the mix…and now you’ve got yourself an all-out contest to see who can rise to the top of heap.

This is a good thing, my friends.

Another thing to consider here is, as discussed above, John Anderson is familiar with this player given their days in Chicago. Plus, the team has obviously seen something in his play that impressed them enough to give him a chance to play up here previously.

Personally, I think Popovic has a better than even chance of making the team when the season opens on October 3…rounding out the bottom 3 defenders that would consist of he, Oystrick and Valabik. Even if he doesn’t, he should be around to provide that certain level of depth that we just aren’t akin to in these parts.

So with that, I’ll open up the floor for discussion with the question… “Can Mark pop a surprise by making this squad”?

168 comments Add your comment

Sara

September 14th, 2009
7:06 am

I think the 6th and 7th D spots are pretty wide open for competition this year. I mean, every year they always talk about how the best players will get the spots but frankly we all know who’s going to get it. Even this year with the forward lines, they appear set (though I personally think there ought to be at least a real competition for that 4th line RW spot held by Thorburn but that perhaps is for another discussion).

I think we have to assume Boris will make the squad. His development goes nowhere really if he doesn’t. I’d say Salmela, Oystrick, and Popovic are the top three in the running for the last two spots. I’d prefer to see Oystrick get one of those spots. He had some rookie hiccups but overall he was a steady defensive defenseman who would occasionally play the body. Beyond that, I have no real preference between Salmela and Pops over who gets the last spot. They have both shown solid play over short spans and I don’t think the team would go wrong with either choice.

LAC

September 14th, 2009
7:51 am

Bill, Keys this season more than anything… WIN on HOME ICE, be tough to play against here and take as many points as possible.

Second, Cut down GA. If we could somehow be in the 210-225 range
we WOULD make the playoffs.

Our problem allowing more goals than most other teams in the NHL has been THE major problem since the team started.

Kubina helps, but he is not a shutdown defensman by no means.

Goalies, Leth’s better step up and make a name for himself this year period. If not he’s gone, I would not be upset to see Pav’s get the job,
the goaltender issues must be cleared up and a TRUE #1 goalie emerge to win those 2-1, 3-2 games on nights we don’t play our best.

Without that and at least one more proven NHL scorer, it does not look that promising.

ben

September 14th, 2009
9:02 am

Mr. Tiller I awoke to the news that Kovy wishes to resign, that Popivic may return, and that Letimin’s job is in doubt. Sir I am going to have good day as I study for my test today! I liked Poppy’s defense. If all are healthy, this team will make the playoffs.

Rawhide

September 14th, 2009
9:18 am

I’d also like to add this morning that it was very nice to have seen so many of you again yesterday, as well as some of you for the first time. Always good to spend quaility time with Eileen and her daughter…C-Viv, Falconer, Sara, Aaron, JLH, DWTOO, Puckwench, Gretchelby, Zoomo as well as Daculafan of “FanThrashtic” & his two sons… as well as a couple of “lurkers”.

A special shout out and thank you, however, goes to Goose…who presented be with a Randy Cunneyworth hockey card from about 1990 as a member of the Winnipeg Jets. Very nice of you, Goose!

Zoomo

September 14th, 2009
9:24 am

If Pops is better now than he was 2 years ago, I’d say he sticks. If not, I’d evaluate the 2008 Pops slighlty below Oystrick. I thought Salmela show some nice offensive prowess in Anderson’s system and I”d like to see him in 3rd pairing to start the season.

I think it”ll be a battle of Oystrick and Pops for the last spot with Boris and Salmela sticking. Although I’d have to think we’ll see the 3rd pair as a three man rotation – Boris, Salmela & Pops or Oystrick.

GaVaHokie

September 14th, 2009
10:00 am

I like Pops, but I’m not feelin’ he is the camp “upset special”… of course, i was wrong about Oystrick last summer.

Brendan… to answer your Zherdev comment from the previous blog… with Armstrong, Pevs, and Little needing new contracts, plus either resigning or replacing Kubina. I don’t see how we’re going to give Zherdev $5-7 million to stay if he has a successful year.

Again, just my opinion.

That’s why I want to give him a multi-year deal right NOW… you’ll never get him this cheap after a stellar season… match Antropov’s contract. If you’re gonna sign him, make it worth the while.

GaVaHokie

September 14th, 2009
10:04 am

Oh, and I’d rather resign Kozlov than resign Zherdev if that’s the option…IMHO.

Smoothie

September 14th, 2009
10:05 am

Rawhide – great write-up on Popo and I love the line about what “depth” has meant to the Thrashers in past years…you clever devil. You forgot to mention what an animal Popovic has become in his training…he is a beast as a result of a new workout regimen…check out this link and scroll down for some pics of Mark training: http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.defrancostraining.com/ask_joe/images/pics/week63-popovic.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.defrancostraining.com/ask_joe/archives/ask_joe_06-05-26.htm&h=247&w=347&sz=17&tbnid=_0TmSD4y4MXG-M:&tbnh=85&tbnw=120&prev=/images%3Fq%3Dmark%2Bpopovic&usg=__mLh5pG1ktVG0BZ0zMCTyGP1iZSY=&ei=mEuuSqrxFoaMtgfs67CfCA&sa=X&oi=image_result&resnum=5&ct=image

I think it will be very difficult to deny Salmela…the guy is as tough as nails and he moves the puck almost as well as Bogey when he gets up a head of steam. But if anyone questions his toughness, check out the video of him fighting with David Backes at the Worlds. Yes, he may get popped pretty good to the point of being bloody but he does not give up at all, he just keeps coming: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hqNRsOWx5mA&feature=related (go to 23 second mark)

I think Popo will end up back in Chi-town, but that’s not a bad thing at all as he’ll probably end up being the first call-up in the event of an injury. Then Kulda and then Welch in my humble estimation.

Smoothie

September 14th, 2009
10:16 am

GVH, we need to give $3.5 M per season to Bryan Little before he blows up with 40 goals this season. Why we haven’t locked him up before his price-tag skyrockets is beyond me! To hell with Zherdev. We don’t need him if Little keeps improving, Slava can stay healthy, Army and Reasy click chemsitry wise and Antropov bangs home 35 goals playing with Kovy.

Rawhide

September 14th, 2009
10:23 am

The NHL network will televise 10 preseason games in the US…starting tonight when the NY Islanders play in Vancouver…giving us a chance to check out John Taveres in his first bit of action. Game starts at 10:30.

Unfortunatley, however… no Thrashers games are on the list of matchups that will aired.

Smoothie

September 14th, 2009
10:39 am

Jameson

September 14th, 2009
11:47 am

Looks like I’ll officially be at the game tomorrow afternoon. Didn’t get tickets in time for the game tonight, but if I’m only going to one, at least I get to help fill out the stands tomorrow.

docsbro

September 14th, 2009
11:54 am

I am sure you guys saw this article from last week. But it was just a reminder to me why I boo this POS every time he comes to town.

http://www.cbssports.com/nhl/story/12196206

GaVaHokie

September 14th, 2009
12:15 pm

To hell with Zherdev. We don’t need him if Little keeps improving, Slava can stay healthy, Army and Reasy click chemsitry wise and Antropov bangs home 35 goals playing with Kovy.

Agreed… in fact, I completely agree with how Waddell is handling the situation… getting camp started, evaluating where you are as a team depth-wise, and then decide if you need Zherdev.

If he gets signed by Edmonton in the meantime, so be it.

I love that Kane is playing with Reasoner and Colby in camp.

I’d also like to see Anderson flip-flop Antropov and Little at C and RW a few times during camp.

Barry

September 14th, 2009
12:27 pm

Well as the old saying goes “may the best man win”. Those last 3 defenseman spots sure are going to be a tough decision. After Salmela got comfortable after being traded I thought he looked pretty good. He wasn’t shy to be physical, had pretty good skating and puck handling abilities. I’m also a big Oystrick fan and when he was allowed to play seemed to play a very solid and consistent defense. He didn’t make me yell at the TV like XLB did at times. Boris was kinda inconsistent. One game he would play great and another game would make bone head mistakes or take dump penalties. Perhaps after having played a full NHL season he can come back this season and be smarter and have a better sense on how to apply himself correctly and not cross that line.

Smoothie

September 14th, 2009
12:38 pm

“I’d also like to see Anderson flip-flop Antropov and Little at C and RW a few times during camp.”

Indeed! I hope JA will realize that may end up being a better iteration of that line combo. However, looking at the lines, it looks as though JA is trying to spread the face-off guys so that there are 2 on each line: Antro / Little; White / Pevs; Reasy / Kane; Slates / Thorby. This way at least, if someone gets booted, we’ll have a decent face-off guy to take his place. However, I still think for this reason Peverley makes more sense on the top line to complement Antro who is quite ineffective by NHL standards. And then you would have Little backing up White in the face-off circle.

World Be Free

September 14th, 2009
12:47 pm

It’s great to have competition in camp, on a team that is looking to really move up this season. I would really like to see Salmela make the team, even over Pops.

I believe Florida made a good signing in Seidenberg. He played well last year and has always been unrated in my book. Toss in Jordan Lepold and they have a pretty good defensive unit.

I also don’t think Florida is going to miss Bouwmeester as much as everything thinks they are. At least they won’t have to deal with the distraction that was Bouwmeester last season.

Glovesave29

September 14th, 2009
1:28 pm

I know I am a broken record here, but Boris needs to be converted to a forward. No one who skate like he does should play D in todays more wide open NHL. He would have been fine in the pre-lockout days when one could clutch, grab, can-opener and cross check all day long. Try to make him a winger where he can use his size and shot from the half wall and deep corners.

I personally WANT Zheredev here as Slava is getting older and is most likely playing his final NHL season. We’ve seen what can happen here once you buy into the system. Lets have Nikolai here to learn this season, then he’s GTG for next season with one campaign under his belt.

Anssi is a tough call. He showed flashes last season and certainly has some offensive flair from the back line. He has good hands. HOWEVER, he too, is blessed with the same skating ability as Boris. Once he has the puck, he stops moving his feet and coasted around in the zone. I remember watching a game last season with some team mates of mine after our game was done, we all thought he was playing at a speed far below those around him. We don’t know if he was at 100%…but I beleive in Lou Lamoriello much more than I do DW, so if he’s willing to part with the guy, they obviously found some fault in his game.

Midfield

September 14th, 2009
1:29 pm

I find it curious when posters jump into conclusions on Zherdev situation, particularly creating the artificial choice Zherdev vs Kane. I won’t speculate whether Kane is ready to play a full NHL season, because I don’t know if he is capable. If somebody here thinks that they do, I’m sure they’re doing much better job with the stock market than our treasury secretary. And another thing: if Kovy wants Zherdev, while ASG and Waddell aren’t sure, I say, to hell with ASG and Waddell.

Thrashers27

September 14th, 2009
1:56 pm

The following is an e-mail sent to me by a co-worker that just about gave me a heart attack. What an A-hole!…once you digest the info it’s clear that it’s a hoax, but at first glance I about keeled over.

Thought everyone here might get a kick out of this as well.
*********
Kovalchuk happy to land in Chicago
Monday, 09.14.2009 / 6:13 PM / 2009 NHL Offseason News

By Brian Hunter – NHL.com Staff Writer

Intriguing mix for ‘Hawks

With the trade of Ilya Kovalchuk, the Chicago Blackhawks added an intriguing player to the mix as they come off their first playoff season in over a decade. Kovalchuk, acquired Monday for forward Dustin Byfuglien, LW Kris Versteeg and two 2nd round draft picks in next years draft, joins newly acquired Marian Hossa on a super-charged Blackhawks 2009-10 squad.

“I think it’s a better team. I think we’ll be a harder working team,” Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman said. ” I’m hoping that when we look at the whole mix, with Kovi coming here and these two players we gave up, that we will make it up in other ways.”

The 6’3” Byfulien has career totals of 38 goals and 75 points in 178 regular-season games and posted 3 goals and 9 points in 17 postseason games.

Versteeg totaled 22 goals and 53 points in 78 regular-season games.

Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman made it clear that while he was ecsatic to acquire Kovalchuk, the Thrashers got significant value in return.

“We let two players of high character go the other way, but you have to give to get,” Bowman said. “We gave up two very good hockey players in Dustin and Kris.”

Smoothie

September 14th, 2009
2:05 pm

Midfield, all of the fanatical support of Zherdev is just as speculative as the assessment of Kane’s potential by those who are more inclined to trust the coaches on this decision. The one difference here is Kane’s well-documented coachability in addition to his work habits and determination.

There is no doubt Zherdev could join this team and score 25 – 40 goals, but our Top 6 is pretty much set. Even if Kozlov and White fall off a bit, we still have the potential for 1 50 goal scorer, 1 40 goal scorer in Little, and 4 other 20-25 goal scorers. But beyond that is the fact that Kane can more easily fit into the 3rd line LW role without disrupting the team chemistry.

If 29 other teams have passed on him due to his attitude, then why do so many people think he’d be perfect in Atlanta where attitude has been a problem as recently as last season (see Williams, Christensen etc)? It’s one thing if you’re crybaby Heatley and you have 2 50 goal seasons on your resume, but Zherdev has a lot to learn before he can be considered an elite player.

And for what its worth, I think I’d actually trust Don Waddell more than our current Treasury Secretary, but I digress…apologies.

Midfield

September 14th, 2009
2:28 pm

Smoothie, trying to emphasize a point by using modifiers like “fanatical support” and “well-documented coachability” – which is but a subjective assessment of a very young career at this junction – does not make it more sound, not to me anyway. You may trust Waddell over the treasury secretary, but I trust Kovy over the treasury secretary, Waddell and ASG.

R. Stroz

September 14th, 2009
2:28 pm

And for what its worth, I think I’d actually trust Don Waddell more than our current Treasury Secretary, but I digress…apologies.

Smootie – Actually I trust Larry Summers, the Director of the White House’s National Economic Council, even less. Summers was the idiot that advocated removing the Glass Steagall Act in the 1990’s. However, Congress went along and passed the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act which reversed the provisions of the Glass Steagall Act that prohibit a bank holding company from owning other financial companies. And hence, both sides of the aisle share guilt.

Now, back to Zherdev. There is no reason the team can’t accomodate BOTH Zherdev and Kane. Wouldn’t it be nice to have an insurance policy if Slava and White have off years again? Depth at the top six forward positions, that would be a first for the Thrashers.

I would actually roll four lines, put Kane on the fourth line, give the fourth line more ice time, and put Thorburn in the press box. That way, Kane could learn the marathon of a 82 game season, without the responsibility of having to shut down the other team’s top line, which is what the third line is suppossed to do.

But that’s just my opinion. We are so used to mediocrity as Thrasher fans that depth is a five letter word.

R. Stroz

September 14th, 2009
2:33 pm

if Kovy wants Zherdev, while ASG and Waddell aren’t sure, I say, to hell with ASG and Waddell.

Midfield – Agreed

World Be Free

September 14th, 2009
2:45 pm

I said it before, I am not even sure Kovy wants Zherdev here. Players know about other players and Kovy probably knows Z is a slacker on defense. This team came along last year due to hustle and hard work. The team leader knows we don’t need a slacker on the squad.

And I think that if management thinks they can get him, they’ll spend the money if only for one year. I’d hate to count out Slava, after the season he had last year.

Kessell-I am not in favor of Phil Kessel. Kessel benefits from playing along side one of the best playmakers in the league-Mark Savard. I doubt he will equal is Boston numbers with whoever he plays with this coming season.

DWTOO

September 14th, 2009
2:53 pm

Glovesave – I was thinking the same thing regarding Slava………and then I read were he nailed the VO2 test – which measures aerobic capacity. Highest on the team. Perhaps The Professor still has a few years left.

Sara

September 14th, 2009
2:54 pm

Smoothie – who says 29 other teams passed on him because of his attitude? You can speculate that, of course, but given how many teams are out of cap space, it’s quite possible there are other reasons why some teams chose not to pursue him.

Brendan

September 14th, 2009
2:58 pm

Well, if the team is going to sign Zherdev, then I support Hokie’s assertion that you sign him on a multi-year deal, at a discount. If any “discounts” are being offered. The advantage of the 1-year deal is … it won’t impact next year’s cap, if Zherdev turns into an unsightly, oozing cancre sore that no band-aid can contain.

To me, personally, I’m not in love in Zherdev. I see danger signs. And I see “up signs.” But, to me, the overriding thing would be if Kovy wants him. If that’s the case, (and it hasn’t been confirmed, only suspected,) then I support the Zherdev acquisition. As far as figures go, here’s what I’ve gleaned. Zherdev wanted roughly $4.5 million from the Rangers. They went to arbitration. The Arbitrator rendered a decision of $3.9 million. R.Stroz informed me that the Rangers declined $3.25 million, to try to re-acquire the player. There’s been speculation about Edmonton. If I were Zherdev, my only interest in Edmonton would be to get that $3.9 or more million. Edmonton is a market that has to overpay. Just like Atlanta. But if Zherdev could be had for $3.3 million, or LESS, I’d say that’s an easy decision to make. Of course, WHAT SAYS Zherdev would EVER, EVER agree to that? We’re not a market that draws skilled free agents. The one and only advantage we’d have … is if Kovy really wants him and Zherdev is doing it at Kovy’s urging. Which, again, we don’t know to be confirmed.

If the Slava Kozlov decision were entirely mine, this would be his FINAL YEAR as a Thrasher, unless he’d agree to a discounted contract, and he would be SUBJECT TO TRADE, when and if I wanted to trade him. If any part of that isn’t there, (the discount, tradeability, etc.) then he doesn’t get re-signed here. He’s pushing 40.

Now, as for $6 million for Zherdev, he’d have to have a Crosby-like season to generate this kind of salary. Allegedly, supposedly, the cap is supposed to SHRINK next year. If that’s so, the GM’s aren’t going to open their wallets for $6 million-a-year players unless the proven track record is there. Zherdev is an impressive player, but he brings “baggage.” Would a GM, any GM, really offer him 4-5 years at $6.0 million per each? I have my doubts. To me, Zherdev is easily worth $3.0 million. Maybe he’s worth $3.5 million. $3.5 million is about what we’ll have to pay Bryan Little’s RFA contract, if Derick Brassards new 4-year deal, at $3.25 million cap hit, is any indication. Personally, I’d offer Bryan Little 8-years/$32 million, and hope he takes it. That’d be a cap hit of $4.0 million. That’s substantively overpaying in the early years of the deal, but drastically underpaying him during those UFA years, which he would be FOREGOING if he made this deal. That’s the point of a PROACTIVE contract. It’s to economize a bit on a player that you don’t want to risk to an RFA offersheet, down the road. In 2010-11, (that’s NEXT SEASON, NOT THIS ONE,) if I could add Kane at $3.1 million and Zherdev, at $3.3 million, plus Little’s $4.0 million, I’d say we’d have some quality depth, to keep Kovalchuk “happy” for re-signing with Atlanta. And my guess is, we’d still be under the “shrinking” cap, even with Kovalchuk’s big, fat new deal. We may not have Kari Lehtonen moving forward. It might be Pavelec, who won’t cost much ($1.5 million) until he establishes himself as something special. Kubina is almost certainly gone. But couldn’t he be replaced by something within the system? For LESS THAN $5.0 million? And if not, couldn’t something be found “comparable” to Kubina on the UFA market for $3.5 to $4.1 million? I keep hearing “good things” about Grant Lewis, Chad Denny, Nathan Oystrick, Zach Redmond, etc. Can we develop them into Top Two pairing blueliners? If so, that saves a bundle of cash.

In every sense, Zherdev is the OUTSIDER. And anytime you bring in someone from the outside, you’ve got to teach him what “Thrashers Hockey” is/means. It also means you’ve potentially blocked the ascendency of some prospect. Is Zherdev blocking someone, SPECIFICALLY, by name, in Chicago, who otherwise would have been ‘earmarked’ for the Top Six forwards in the 2010-11 season? If not, then Zherdev doesn’t seem like that bad of a move.

Midfield

September 14th, 2009
3:18 pm

On second thought, I would just add that, if in fact DW and/or ASG decided to put a stop on Zherdev negotiations, I would grudgingly accept this given sudden contingency need for some goaltending signing. At this point, the goal seems to be the biggest headache for the Thrashers.

GaVaHokie

September 14th, 2009
3:23 pm

would actually roll four lines, put Kane on the fourth line, give the fourth line more ice time, and put Thorburn in the press box

You’d have to take away ice time from the top two lines to do that… give Kovalchuk/Antro/Little only 18 minutes a game? No way.

Smoothie

September 14th, 2009
3:24 pm

Okay Sara, make it 23 teams then. The point was that if his talent was so overwhelming that you could overlook his shortcomings, then most of the GM’s probably would have made a move to get him. But not at his inflated price-tage of $3.9 M. The guy hasn’t even cracked 30 goals yet and he thinks he’s worth $4 M…sure thing! One last thing, if Kovy really does want Z as bad as many of you do, I think he’d be at training camp by now. But DWad doesn’t seem that desperate yet and it seems the dialogue surrounding his contract negotiations have been very positive to say the least.

Midfield – sorry to have used some adjectives in expressing my opinion…I’ll try to be more boring the next time.

GaVaHokie

September 14th, 2009
3:25 pm

Glovesave – I was thinking the same thing regarding Slava………and then I read were he nailed the VO2 test – which measures aerobic capacity. Highest on the team. Perhaps The Professor still has a few years left.

Exactly the point I was going to make… I’d give Kozlov a 3 year extension tomorrow if I could.

Smoothie

September 14th, 2009
3:29 pm

Stroz, bank de-regulation has not been one of the sparkling achievements of Congress in the last 15 years. Seemed like a bad idea when we were arguing its merits in business school and it has not turned out very well. Guess we didn’t learn much from the S&L crisis of the early 80s!! At least Don Waddell seems to have learned a bit from his past mistakes. Let’s hope his moves work better than the Community Reinvestment Act of 1979…ooops, there I go again. Sorry Rawhide, I’ll knock it off before Trixie slaps my wrists with a ruler!!

Brendan

September 14th, 2009
3:30 pm

Yes, but no matter how IN SHAPE a person might be, there’s just no denying that Kozlov has reached the age where he is particularly vulnerable to (injury.) (God forbid, and I didn’t say that. Which is why it’s housed within parentheses. I never said the “i” word.) I like Slava Kozlov. Truly, I do. I love him in shootouts, especially. But as I gaze at that calendar, I don’t think that’s the direction we need to be going. And Kozlov CANNOT get another “no trade clause” if he is re-signed.

R. Stroz

September 14th, 2009
3:30 pm

Rawhide – I have a poll for you to run by the AJC sports department:

Who has been the worst joke of an athlete in Atlanta sports?

1) Mike Hampton

2) Kari Lehtonen

3) Speedy Claxton

R. Stroz

September 14th, 2009
3:33 pm

Smoothie – You procured a good laugh on that one.

GaVaHokie

September 14th, 2009
3:34 pm

I find it curious when posters jump into conclusions on Zherdev situation, particularly creating the artificial choice Zherdev vs Kane.

I don’t think it’s artificial at all… I believe Waddell somewhat eluded to it himself in the Kamal interview.

At the 2:35 mark…

http://thrashers.nhl.tv/team/console.jsp?catid=656&id=46256

Smoothie

September 14th, 2009
3:35 pm

Midfield makes a very salient point: goaltending will be a much bigger issue than anything else this early season. If someone doesn’t rise to the occasion, all of our moves will be for naught and the season-ending improvement we witnessed last spring will become a distant memory by the end of October’s road trip.

lee

September 14th, 2009
3:36 pm

r stroz-hmmm, prob mike hampton, but thats hard.

-yes, i guess poppy could make the lineup, but i would really want to watch his prospect games first, i dont think he will be amazing, but perfect if one of our guys r out.

Rawhide

September 14th, 2009
3:39 pm

Thrashers27 – I think I’d have had a heartattack had that been dropped into my inbox!

RStroz – 4) Jeff George

Brendan

September 14th, 2009
3:39 pm

Rawhide, my apologies. This blog topic is Mark Popovic and it’s a good one. I vered off a little. I like Mark Popovic. I certainly don’t think Pops was the problem in 2008. To me, he is an “NHL-ready” defenseman. I’ve always liked him. I hope he wins a spot. I also like Nathan Oystrick quite a bit. I’m not entirely sold on Anssi Salmela, however. But that’s not to say he isn’t a good defenseman and wouldn’t flourish here. My Top Six are: Bogosian, Enstrom, Hainsey, Kubina, Valabik and Oystrick. In the pressbox: Mark Popovic or Anssi Salmela. As always, I defer to John Anderson and his staff to decide what is best. I still “trust” them.

(Is this John Anderson’s last year of his contract? Uhh, forget I said anything. I don’t want to discuss this topic unless things start going BADLY. Per Forbes magazine, Waddell’s contract expires in the offseason of 2010. But I’m not talking now since I’m in parenthesis.)

Smoothie

September 14th, 2009
3:40 pm

Don’t worry about Slava! He knows wine like he knows shootout moves! And all that wine consumption and clean-living will pay off this year as he and Peverley will torment goalies up and down the east coast.

Rawhide

September 14th, 2009
3:42 pm

Brendan – No apologies necessary, professor. I simply set the table for discussion with the invitation to all to bring your side dishes which add to the conversational bounty.

Brendan

September 14th, 2009
3:42 pm

R.Stroz: Speedy Claxton.

GaVaHokie

September 14th, 2009
3:44 pm

I personally WANT Zheredev here as Slava is getting older and is most likely playing his final NHL season.

No way is this Kozlov’s last NHL season… he can, and probably will (easily) play to age 42 if he wants to… I think he would emotionally check out, far before he physically checks out.

Gary Roberts is arguably the only guy who keeps himself in as good of shape as Kozlov.

Brendan

September 14th, 2009
3:45 pm

The discussions have been rather good today. Lots of variety of opinion out there, in Thrasherville. And there’s a lot of positive vibes headed into this season, if contest votes are any indication. At this point, more contestants feel the Thrashers are a playoff team than don’t.

Smoothie

September 14th, 2009
3:45 pm

Oooo Stroz, that’s mean. At least Karrpa has played ONE entire season for his team.

Rawhide – Jeff George did become quite the parody of a NFL QB, didn’t he? I’ll never forget Cornelius Bennet’s first game in Buffalo when he steamrolled George (as a Colt) into the Rich Stadium carpet…ahhh, good times.

GaVaHokie

September 14th, 2009
3:45 pm

Stroz… Peerless Price

Brendan

September 14th, 2009
3:46 pm

Hokie, let’s not forget Chris Chelios, Mark Recchi, Doug Weight, Bill Guerin. Keith Tkachuk. Some guys can do it. Even in their 40’s. I like Slava. I think he could play very successfully outside of Atlanta, in the future. And that’s what I hope he does.

Brendan

September 14th, 2009
3:47 pm

I second Hokie’s vote of Peerless Price. But to me, the biggest “dud” in Atlanta Sports is Bruce Levenson.