Thrashers Prospect Games And Town Hall Meeting Roundup

First of all, I gotta tell you, living out here in the twin cities area of Kennesaw/Acworth while so much is going on in Duluthland and Philips these past few days has kept yours-truly on the road quite a bit. I’ve been zipping around the top-end perimeter in the big suburban assault vehicle so much that I’m afraid Al Gore is going to send me a nasty-gram about the carbon footprint I’ve been generating.

As you know by now, along with training camp opening up this past weekend, Atlanta and Nashville’s prospects split the two games played at the Duluth Ice Forum…the Thrashers taking Monday night’s matchup by a 6-3 score, Nashville then skated away with a 3-0 shutout win in Tuesday’s matinee. While unable to find the back of the net in game number two, the young Thrashers were able to ring shots off the post four or five times.

Jeremy Morin scored a couple of goals and added an assists in the first game…the first of which was a nifty one in which he took a feed from Andrew Kozek just beyond the blueline, zipped his way past a pair of defenders, moved right then left and slipped a backhand past the Preds keeper. Another goal that stood out to me was the one notched by Matt Anderson going into the corner to dig out the puck then, after winning it, making a bee-line to the goal to jam it home.

One thing about these kids is that they are a big bunch and they just don’t mind throwing their weight around out there. Very fast and aggressive…and they were very entertaining to watch this week. Morin, Eric O’Dell, Levko Koper and Drew Paris each played well in both games.

I can’t even begin to tell you how much fun it was to see so many familiar faces as well as how nice it was to meet a few others of you for the first time. Also, I have to say that the Ice Forum crew did an awesome job in making these two days a very enjoyable and fun time for the fans.

After Tuesday’s game…and chatting with Thrashers TV duo Darren Eliot and Matt McConnell…I again jumped into the suburban assault vehicle and motored my way through a driving rain to Philips Arena for the Thrashers Season Preview Party. This event was hosted by radio voice of the Thrashers Dan Kamal, who was joined on stage by John Anderson, Don Waddell, Rick Dudley and Colby Armstrong.

The Rawhide/Blueland Chronicle consortium were represented in full Tuesday night as I was joined by my alleys Razor Catch Pray, Big Shooter, Mortimer Peacock and French Catalogues… nesting ourselves along the top row overlooking the assembled masses that almost filled section 104 below.

After a few minutes of Q&A with Anderson, Dudley and Army, the stage was turned over to the general manager who promptly went straight the “The Big Question” of the evening…Ilya Kovalchuk and the negotiation process to re-sign him.

Waddell indicated, as he has before, that there has been an offer and subsequent counter-offer made…which is a level not reached during the Marian Hossa negotiations. He expressed his believe that a deal would be reached with the captain.

Oh, and in case you haven’t yet heard…Kovy and his wife are indeed expecting their third child. So, congrats to the whole Kovalchuk family.

Don also stated that the team’s salary cap projection is/would be just below the $50 million mark. If certain bonuses kick in, that could push it to just north of that mark. Regardless, he said this season the team will spend more on players’ salaries than ever before.

Mr. Big Shooter asked Waddell about his plans to utilize the depth in goal this past summer to use as trade material. Don responded that he was indeed open to doing so, but that the possible deals that were discussed weren’t in the team’s best interest and is now happy no keeper was move in light of Kari Lehtonen’s situation. However, given the fact that Manny Legace is in camp, they are even deeper now then when the offseason began. Thus, there are still options there.

During the Q/A session, Mr. Razor Catch Prey enquired as to John Anderson’s “system” and how it’s design is meant to play out. The coach explained that in his O-fensive scheme there are about 4 or 5 plays that are drawn up in relation to when the puck is moved out of the defensive zone. Much like a football quarterback, the puck handler has primary and secondary options in which to distribute the puck up-ice. The key, he said, is to not only perform the plays well…but to do so swiftly.

Another thing Anderson commented on was the way his team performed down the stretch of last season. He was very happy in the way they were winning a number of games against team that were “hungry for points”, as they were making playoff pushes. This helped bond the players together and is confident that it’ll translate to a stronger start this fall. To that measure, he’s gone ahead and formed his lines during traing camp in the way he sees them lining up during the season… Antropov centering Kovy, Little… Kozlov’s second line also including White and Peverley… Reasoner centering the third line with Kane and Armstrong on either side… Slater, Bolts and Thorburn forming the forth line…and the defensive pairings on Enstrom-Bogosian as well as Hainsey-Kubina.

Of course as the preseason plays out, lineups are subject to change…but the coach’s thought is to get them together early and allow them to get comfortable with one another sooner rather than later.

In response to the pre-submitted question I posed to Rick Dudley regarding what he thought he could do to help bring the measure of success seen in Chicago here…he stated that his mission with the team is to “best utilize the assets” the organization possesses. Later, he also expressed his belief that the Thrashers have the nucleus of a very good team and that the team here is further along than in other situations he’s stepped into… such as in  Ottawa. In his time there, an 80-ish point Sens team was improved to one that accumulated over 100.

Oh, and not to be overlooked is the fact that Dudley compared Evander Kane to another young player he’s seen up close…Jonathan Toews.

And lastly…during the proceedings Tuesday night, those occupying the stage did so down on the floor of Philips Arena which already has the ice surface prepared. I’m sure many of you will be relieved, as I was, to learn that the Thrashers tenth anniversary logo was NOT emblazoned on the surface.

Don Waddell alluded to the fact that it had been met with “mixed reviews”.

136 comments Add your comment

Glovesave29

September 16th, 2009
2:32 pm

Yes, both Darren and Matt mentioned that they are regular readers here.

As for the logo…looks like it was designed after watching something being flushed down the toilet, although it would have been “inspired” south of the equator, as it is moving clockwise, and everything here in the northern hemisphere goes down counter clockwise. It’s ok, everyone up and go to the loo and check for yourself…

J.B.

September 16th, 2009
2:38 pm

Thanks Rawhide! Permission granted. Please have Trixie provide my contact information to anyone who indicates they can get me in Phillips on the 1st. I’m so excited for the season to start, I’m getting the shakes over here…

Brendan

September 16th, 2009
3:01 pm

Whenever I see the 10th Anniversary logo, I feel like rollerskating.

GaVaHokie

September 16th, 2009
3:22 pm

Open House is on Oct. 1st?!… crap, that sucks… I’ll be in Virginia.

Smoothie, thanks for the info on Legace. That’s a guy who knows how to earn a roster spot.

Smoothie

September 16th, 2009
3:23 pm

Rylan Kaip (kind of a surprise), Kevin Doell, Paul Postma and Andrew Kozek getting extended camp looks. Expect them to play in one of the 2 games over the next couple of days. Does Kozek have a year of college elig left?

ben

September 16th, 2009
3:23 pm

Sara

September 16th, 2009
3:31 pm

Rawhide – if you’ll also recall the last time Kovy signed a new contract, it was also announced at the start of the home opener – Kovy of course wasn’t present since he had been a hold-out – but yeah, the team is big on big announcements.

Smoothie

September 16th, 2009
3:32 pm

GVH, Thurs night VPI game? House should be a rockin’!

J.B.

September 16th, 2009
3:36 pm

Brendan- really? when i see the 10th anniversary logo, i feel like barfing.

Hokie- if you’re unable to attend the open house, please see if my posts at 2:29 and 2:38 apply :-)

J.B.

September 16th, 2009
3:52 pm

New Puck Daddy has an interview with Zherdev. he discusses negotiations with the Thrashers:

http://sports.yahoo.com/nhl/blog/puck_daddy/post/Zherdev-on-media-lies-why-he-didn-t-end-up-wi?urn=nhl,189985#remaining-content

Why couldn’t it happen with Atlanta for you?

The option was very good. Nik Antropov(notes), my former New York Rangers teammate, is there. There is also Ilya Kovalchuk(notes) who I trained with together this summer in Luzhniki, he also asked me to [join] his team. But I think the problem arose because Atlanta has to urgently sign a new big contract with Kovalchuk, and there was simply no money left for other free agents.

ben

September 16th, 2009
3:56 pm

strong/YYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEESSSSSSSSSS!/strong

ben

September 16th, 2009
3:56 pm

um . . . how do we bold?

J.B.

September 16th, 2009
4:02 pm

ben – If I’m not mistaken the tag is and yes while we didn’t get Zherdev, it sounds like the reason why totally kicks @$$

Disco Duck

September 16th, 2009
4:06 pm

Waddell is my cwusin.

J.B.

September 16th, 2009
4:07 pm

damn. the tag disappeared in my last post. now I want to know how to type an html tag without it actually working…

Anyhow, ben I think it’s a “b” between two brackets. Obviously the second one will have the “/” before the “b”.

R. Stroz

September 16th, 2009
4:07 pm

Eight to ten million under the salary cap and no money?

Sounds like the same cheap @$$ ASG problem to me.

Rawhide

September 16th, 2009
4:14 pm

ben – Looks like you need to take Trixie’s “Text Enhancement-101” class.

Smoothie

September 16th, 2009
4:25 pm

Zherdev must already be surreptitiously on the payroll as he is doing the ASG’s bidding by spinning the why behind his not signing with ATL.

R. Stroz

September 16th, 2009
4:25 pm

On Zherdev, it simply came down to the fact that Kane is cheaper. Kane’s base salary is around a million, with up to an additional two million in incentives. Zherdev would have cost somewhere between 3.25 to 4 million.

So, the ASG told DW to pick either Kane or Zherdev, NOT BOTH. Zherdev was a higher fixed cost; whereas, Kane is a fixed plus a variable cost. With the ASG, its always about saving a penny and forgoing a dollar of revenue.

World Be Free

September 16th, 2009
4:31 pm

Speaking of fixes, Zherdev is a quick fix and Kane is a long term investment. I still think one of the other younger guys is going to step up and make this club.

We will know more next week-can’t wait for Monday night!

ben

September 16th, 2009
4:37 pm

HA!!!!! Even Zherdev says Kovy’s staying!!

Midfield

September 16th, 2009
4:39 pm

I agree with Stroz. These couple of million or so may become very costly down the road.

Rawhide

September 16th, 2009
4:42 pm

There ya go, ben!!! Nicley done.

Everyone – In case you haven’t heard yet…tomorrow’s preseason game in Nashville will be aired on the Thrashers flagship station 680 AM The Fan. I’m assuming that it’ll be available via internet stream…so those of us OTP will be able to give it a listen as well. I’m also trying find out if the game will be picked up on one of XM’s NHL channels.

Next week’s home game vs. the Predators is scheduled to be on 680 as well.

ben

September 16th, 2009
4:46 pm

now if i could just figure out the smiley faces

Darkhorse

September 16th, 2009
4:46 pm

Here’s the link to the podcast interview with Waddell on Toronto radio earlier today. Good stuff…..thanks to poster on the Thrashers message boards for the original link.

http://www.fan590.com/media.jsp?content=20090916_131028_10444

Smoothie

September 16th, 2009
4:47 pm

It’s a gamble to go with Kane indeed, but so is signing Zherdev. Different levels of risk, but as Stroz points out, the variable aspect of Kane’s contract is more appealing to the penny pinchers than the fixed cost / risk associated with Zherdev. Zherdev may already have a gentlemen’s agreement with Waddudley to sign next year after working on his game in Russia. Perhaps Kovy is quite aware of this and is willing to stake his reputation on it by signing a new deal with Le Thrash.

Stay tuned to As the Birds Thrash as more titillating and mind-provoking storylines will surely develop in the coming days and weeks!

Midfield

September 16th, 2009
5:06 pm

Here’s the transcript of the key part of this interview:

Q: This was the Hossa comparison that you’ve…
Don: Something like that, yeah…[you know, the guy with a big nose who talked funny. I never understood what he was trying to tell me, so we never really found a common language...]

Smoothie

September 16th, 2009
5:12 pm

Okay Bill, this time I REALLY am stuck in blog purgatory!

Brendan

September 16th, 2009
5:58 pm

R.Stroz, I just now read that Falconer blog on Evander Kane. Loved it. I think Falconer nailed it. I hope everyone reads it. There’s a link to it in the previous blog, courtesy of R.Stroz.

If there’s something Falconer omitted, it was this, (not to be critical,) but in evaluating Kane’s “el cheapo” capped, rookie contract, which compares the “value” of what Kane brings at age 20 vs. age 21, starting him at 18 also starts the clock ticking on his UFA eligibility. Atlanta’s rights to Kane may be long gone by age 27. And that could bear relevance down the road, if Kane isn’t eventually locked up on a PROACTIVE RFA contract that takes a bite out out of some of those ULTRA EXPENSIVE UFA years.

Of course, if the Atlanta Thrashers were a PREMIER FORCE in the National Hockey League, they’d just pay star players what they’re WORTH and not agonize over how much revenue-sharing they got, since they’d make it up in playoff revenues. What? They would. Moving right along.

So I agree with Falconer, it’s better to have Kane’s capped rookie contract for ages 19, 20, and 21, rather than 18, 19, and 20. Plus, I think it’s better for his development to delay NHL experience by one year. Let him tear up the WHL, in a fun, kick-derriere type year. It won’t hurt him and it won’t hurt the Thrashers. It’s not as if the “window of opportunity” is closing for Kane. He’s got a roster spot waiting for him in the 2010-11 season, and it’ll be playing “Top Six” forward minutes, which will be HIS LONGTERM ROLE for this club. Playing those Top Six forward minutes, in his “rookie year,” will allow him to more ably compete for the Calder Trophy, instead of being buried on the checking line, playing 3rd line minutes. Which will never be his role past this season. That’d be the better way to develop Kane.

It should be about “hockey decisions,” not “financial” ones.

Steven Tyler

September 16th, 2009
6:06 pm

…………………..i met matt and darren in the elevator years ago. good guys!…………………
Love in an Elevator….
The Logo is awesome….

Dwayne

September 16th, 2009
6:20 pm

I like the LOGO.

ben

September 16th, 2009
7:01 pm

I feel that this is the real world and the Thrashers must compete in an overcrowded market, ergo the have to do things that are not ideal. Zherdev would have been a proven commodity with a track record and a reputation. And all things being equal, I wanted him on Techwood 42 dates a year. And there is risk to this, but the greater risk is no Kovy. Look, the fact is Zherdev has not signed anywhere in North America. That is a clue, people. As to Kane not being here in seven years, very respectfully to all of you, do you know what the world will look like in eight years? Example: Politics aside, could any of you have seen the election results for 2008 in 2000? In sports, the high picks get thrust into less than ideal situations all the time. Some even succeed. If the kid blows, he’ll be back in the WHL. Maybe, he’ll pull a Little and be really good after a short first stint. All I know is I’D RATHER KEEP THE KID!!!!

Rawhide

September 16th, 2009
7:24 pm

Smoothie & Ben – Your posts have been freed from blog purgatory.

R. Stroz

September 16th, 2009
7:47 pm

ben – Little put another year in the juniors after he was drafted by the Thrashers. Then after a stint in Atlanta the next year, Little went back to Chicago.

Please remember, Kane is just 18 years and 1.5 months old.

World Be Free

September 16th, 2009
9:17 pm

Three questions-

Jason Williams signing with Detroit; what are they thinking?

Dubinsky getting seriously low balled by New York. The Rangers, a team that makes a habit of overpaying guys on the wrong side of the curve are playing “Buffalo Sabre Cheap” with Dubinsky, a real good all around player. And they signed Kotalik?

Where is Earl of Bud?

Bob

September 16th, 2009
9:18 pm

I can’t see them burning a year of Kane’s rookie contract this year, I still think they’ll let him see a few games, and go dumpster divin again on the waiver wire to fill out the forwards.

Red Wings Fan

September 16th, 2009
9:20 pm

Jason Williams has signed with Detroit?

The cup is ours.

Rawhide

September 16th, 2009
9:29 pm

I can’t see them burning a year of Kane’s rookie contract this year, I still think they’ll let him see a few games, and go dumpster divin again on the waiver wire to fill out the forwards.

Bob – I’m inclined to concur with that point. If folks want to see Kane play at the NHL level during the regular season, they had better do so on opening night. Since they are gone for the next five, he may not play another home game before being sent down.

If they don’t “dumpster dive”, then you’ll probably see Crabb or Stewart filling the 3LW spot.

World Be Free

September 16th, 2009
9:30 pm

You know Bob, that’s what i wanted to avoid when there were plenty of good UFA forwards to be had, a few weeks ago. Now there’s not much left.

We do not have NHL quality depth, if we get in injury trouble. Let’s hope they are spending their time resigning our core long term.

I can suit up, if ya’ll like leather helmets.

Brendan

September 16th, 2009
10:30 pm

Just curious, not advocating anything, but did Max Afinagenov ever get an NHL contract? Or did he sign in the KHL or some other European league?

The NY Rangers are known for their spending. Their market is a rich and viable one. They are an “Original Six” team. But GM’s have to be careful these days more than ever, since (1) the cap may be shrinking next season, however marginally that may be, and (2) the CBA expires in 2011. I think it’ll be renewed. But hey, I don’t own a crystal ball. If there’s going to be another Lockout, then that’s what happens. Having been through one lockout, with promises of, “Oh we’ll fix everything! The salary cap is coming! It will level the ice surface, and create 30 healthy franchises,” I’m even less in favor of listening to them argue. We’ve seen the results.

Regarding the waiver wire, I hope we can find something good, as a bottom feeder with cap room. I’m keeping an eye out for the Toronto Maple Leafs and how they use Colin Stuart. If they put him on waivers, I’d like to have him back. What? I would.

R. Stroz

September 16th, 2009
10:45 pm

Brendan – The Leafs traded Colin Stuart to the Flames.

World Be Free

September 16th, 2009
11:13 pm

Max is in limbo right now, not even a camp invitee.

Sage of Bluesland

September 17th, 2009
12:39 am

That logo represents everything that Don Waddell has done to hockey in Atlanta….I just wish we could have put some of his more infamous blusters around the outside…”Five-Year Plan”; “Building through the draft!”; Playoff “guarantee”; We’re ahead of the Flyers’ progress; “We got the player we wanted all along!” et. al. ad nauseam.

Stop subsidizing the utter incompetence of that fraud of a GM and that uncaring ownership group.

Rawhide

September 17th, 2009
8:43 am

I was listening to Laughlin and Lovignle on XM’s NHL This Morning driving in and they made the comment that Manny Malhotra is thiiiiiissssss close to signing with the San Jose Sharks.

GaVaHokie

September 17th, 2009
9:16 am

Check out Ben Wright’s latest blog… read Steve’s comments under the comment section. He gives a good recap of the STH’s breakfast with Waddell.

http://www.bluelandblog.com

GaVaHokie

September 17th, 2009
9:26 am

Rawhide

September 17th, 2009
9:37 am

Hokie – I just read that from the Falconer. The following comment from Waddell tells the whole story:

“Even when Lehtonen is healthy, he should not assume that the #1 job is his. At this point, I don’t think he has earned the right to expect that.”

GaVaHokie

September 17th, 2009
9:50 am

Rawhide… I love that comment!

Rawhide

September 17th, 2009
10:02 am

Hokie – I agree. It’s as if Waddell, Anderson and Dudley, (or the W.A.D. squad), are ready to see the Kari Lehtonen experiment come to some sort of resolution.

Nothing is “given”…everything is “earned”. I like that.

World Be Free

September 17th, 2009
10:03 am

Bill, don’t know why San Jose would want Malholtra, unless he signs a 2 way contract. They seem pretty stacked already.