Maxim? Just Sign Him! Oh, And Manny Too

We’ve been ‘round and ‘round the whole subject of whether or not John Anderson’s “play more in regular season games” comments were in reference to Maxim Afinogenov or not. Did he accidently slip up and let loose a company secret…or did he just error in names, instead meaning to say that Nik Antropov would play more minutes once the games started to count for real?

Who knows…but to be honest with you, it just doesn’t matter. The Thrashers should just go on and sign the man and be done with it. Come to terms with him, allocate the necessary funds to pay him, sit him down at the table and get his Russian John Hancock on the contract.

The only real question regarding Max is this…does he make the Thrashers a better team with him on the roster? You may answer that however you wish, but my response to my own inquiry is “Yup…he does”.

Who will make the Thrashers opening day lineup?

  • Maxim Afinogenov (67%, 80 Votes)
  • Evander Kane (3%, 3 Votes)
  • Both of them (29%, 34 Votes)
  • Neither of them (1%, 2 Votes)

Total Voters: 119

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Take Friday night’s game in Carolina. Max had a hand in two of the three Thrashers goals scored during a 4-3 loss to the Canes. A goal and an assist on 3 shots during 16:08 TOI…up from his 11:40 minutes played Wednesday night against the Preds by the way. Sure, that’s an “OK” line during a preseason game, but the fact of the matter here is that the Thrashers played a regular season type Hurricanes lineup while half the guys that suited up for them will be catching flights for Chicago in just a few days…if not just a few hours.

Afinogenov helped motor an offense that consisted of players like Michael Vernace, Tim Stapleton and Jason Krog to a competitive effort against a lineup that made its way to the Eastern Conference Finals after defeating the top-seeded Bruins.

Sure, it’s just one game…one preseason game at that. But the exhibition portion of the 2009-10 NHL campaign isn’t that long and it wraps up tomorrow afternoon. Time is short and it’s time to act.

If the Thrashers choose not to sign Afinogenov, then the player that most likely fills that roster spot is 18-year old Evander Kane. OK, that’s not too shabby of an alternative…but I honestly feel like the kid needs one more season in the Juniors. If the team were short-staffed as was the case in years past, then maybe I could see him starting at the NHL level a year or so sooner than necessary. But that isn’t the case given the options the team has in camp this year.

If nothing else, Maxim Afinogenov provides the buffer that the Thrashers and Kane need between forcing Evander into the lineup and allowing him to do so when he and the team are both ready to do so.

My hope is that they sign him quickly…hopefully this weekend.

Oh, And Speaking Of Signing…

Manny Legace looked strong in his Thrashers preseason debut, didn’t he? The line for his work in Carolina in Friday night was two periods of play facing 27 Hurricanes shots…turning away 25. He singlehandedly kept the team in the game buy stopping 14 of the 15 shots fired at him in the first period alone.

Atlanta managed but one single, solitary shot on Cam Ward in that opening 20 minute frame…thank you Jim Slater.

One of the goals that got past Manny was while the Canes were on a power play…and it deflected in off of Paul Postma’s stick. Simply put…he did his job and kept the game from getting out of hand which allowed the skaters to make a game of it.

What more can one ask of a goalie?

Personally, I’d like to see the man start in goal next weekend when the season gets underway, but I think the men who make that decision are behind Pavelec in that role. To his credit, Opie has done well in his two start, going 1-0-1 with a .930 SV%, (66 saves on 71 shots). But I must admit that the thought of Pavelec being handed the keys to the nets while Kari is on the mend makes me shiver.

I’ve seen that movie before…and it didn’t end very well.

Even if Pavs is the starter and Hedberg backs him up, Manny could be signed to a two-way deal, sent to Chicago with MacIntyre and called up if need be.

Eventually a decision will have to be made in some regards when Lehtonen returns, but until we know when that time is, Manny is a great option to go with…but he’s gotta be signed.

Now, About Last Night…

Oh, and there was a game last night too. As I said earlier…and as I’m sure you already know by now…the Thrashers lost 4-3 in Carolina Friday night. There preseason record now stands at 2-2-1 with one more game that doesn’t count left to be played.

Rod BrindAmour Anssi Salmela Boris Valabik and Drew MacIntyre do the Hokie-Pokie during the third period

Rod Brind'Amour, Anssi Salmela, Boris Valabik and Drew MacIntyre do the Hokie-Pokie during the third period (AP photo via Yahoo Sports)

Truth be told, though, the Thrashers played pretty well from what I could gather from the Hurricanes’ streaming radio feed. Half of our squad were players that will not make the opening day lineup and they went up against Carolina’s starters for the most part.

Tim Stapleton and Michael Vernace joined Afinogenov in scoring for Atlanta. Jason Krog, Nathan Oystrick, Mark Popovic, Paul Postma and Marty Reasoner all had an assists.

Drew MacInytre played in the third period and stopped 9 of the 11 shots he faced.

Though Carolina did score twice on the man advantage…once while enjoying a 5 on 3…radio voice of the Hurricanes Chuck Kaiton remarks a couple of time that Atlanta’s penalty killers were being “very aggressive” and doing a good job of pursuing their attackers.

It was still a losing effort…but not a bad showing at all. If nothing else, it just serves to prove a point I’ve been making for the past few weeks. The Chicago Wolves are gonna ice one heckuva team this season.

Tampa Bay will be in town Sunday afternoon to close out preseason. The Thrashers have indicated that they want the lineup for that game to closely resemble that of next Saturday night’s season opener when the Bolts return to Thrasherville. We should get a better picture of just who will make up that roster as the Thrashers are set to announce cuts later today.

Maybe we’ll also get news of a couple of signing too…hmmmm?

42 comments Add your comment

Rawhide

September 26th, 2009
9:50 am

First!

HA!!! :lol:

Big Shooter

September 26th, 2009
10:01 am

Hey buddy…

Waffleboy

September 26th, 2009
10:09 am

You’re pretty fast there Rawhide.

Rawhide

September 26th, 2009
10:12 am

Waffleboy – Well, I kinda had a clue when it was being posted. Trixie tipped me off, ya know.

Big Shooter – Hey buddy…

Waffleboy

September 26th, 2009
10:16 am

I’m really torn on whether to sign Afinogenov or not. His injury problems giv me pause, regardless of how well he has played thus far. But if Kane doesn’t play his way on to this team in JA’s eyes, then I agree, send him down. Do we still keep him for ten games or not, though? If Afinogenov has won the spot, then he needs to be playing from day one. The beginning of this season is just too important to play wait and see, or to give Kane some NHL seasoning. This team has to hit the ground running to convince Kovy to sign.

Todd Brennand

September 26th, 2009
10:19 am

Ok Atlanta fans….from hockey mad Canada I have been watching Max since his world junior days where he had two hat-tricks and won mvp. He is the real deal as long as he has some decent players on his line. Without this he tries to do it all himself, plays in a vacuum and usually skates himself in circles into the ground. If he gets PP time and top 6 linemates he will dazzle you like Kovy. For pure entertainment value you should hope the sign him up.

Glovesave29

September 26th, 2009
10:24 am

Eklund is reporting (and I use that in the loosest possible terms) that the Thrash are interested in Theo Fleury.

Sara – to answer your question from the last blog – yes, there are headhunters at the NHL level too, but the disparity in talent at the junior level is much more than in the NHL. Fringe guys in the WHL are more apt to go after a star than in the NHL. Most likely it is jealousy – the star with the NHL contract vs. the guy who is one bad shift away from bailing hay in Flin Flon. It is also the difference in ages – even a blockhead like Brashear has a bit more maturity that a 16 year old suiting up for Prince Albert. The coach of a junior team also doesn’t mind losing the 18th guy on the bench as an NHL coach would – there are more players to fill the newly vacated spot in juniors than the pros.

Darren

September 26th, 2009
10:24 am

After what happened last year, the one thing that would be needed before signing Max would be “would he buy into the system”.

You don’t want another Williams bringing the team down.

Fortunately, I don’t think that’s the case. I think Max makes it, and they send Kane to juniors. It really sucks that he can’t be sent to Chicago. That would be the perfect place for him.

GaVaHokie

September 26th, 2009
10:40 am

Well, listening to the game last night on the radio, two things the commentator said stuck in my brain.

“Maxim Afinogenov takes the puck and circles the entire zone.”

“Afinogenov to Peverley, Peverley back to Afinogenov SHOT ON NET… Afinogenov with the rebound, pass to Peverley SHOT ON NET.”

Rawhide

September 26th, 2009
10:41 am

Todd Brennand – Welcome! Good points…thank you for your thoughts. I obviously agree that he should be signed…more up side with him than down, IMHO.

Darren – Your comments regarding concern over another Jason Williams situation are well founded…and I agree with you in thinking Max wouldn’t be such a player. The one thing different here is that JA didn’t have any say in the Williams signing…he was only on the job for only a few weeks when Waddell signed JW. Anderson told me at that time he didn’t really provide input to player selection.

I think that’s different with Afinogenov…he’s in camp specifically to audition for Anderson. If JA tells Waddell he wants him, I’d bet ya dollars to donuts he’s on the squad.

Oh, and I also agree 100% about Kane in Chicago. It’s a shame we can’t send him there. Heck, with the team they are already going to have given who we’ll be sending down…add Kane to it and that’s one bad-a$$ AHL team!

five_hole

September 26th, 2009
10:42 am

To answer the question, “should we sign Afiniginov”, I believe the answer is, “DUH!”.

In your last blog, you asked the question “Separately, what’s your take on the future of Bolton this season? (with your educated and yet magical, crystal ball)”. And my answer is, I think he still has a role on this team. I’ve always kinda liked Boults. He may not the best fighter, but he’s usually the 1st guy we have to throw the gloves down when we need it. Also (and I may be alone on this) I think he’s really pretty good at forechecking. My recollection of games the past few years is that when the “energy line” is out there, we pretty much keep the opposition bottled up in their zone. I’d rather keep Boulton on the 4th line than Kane (let him mature in Chicago).

GaVaHokie

September 26th, 2009
10:42 am

If Theo Fleury will take a two-way offer, I’m all for it… I don’t see what choice he has.

Buzz

September 26th, 2009
11:08 am

Afinogenov will make the team for one reason, he’s Russian and Kovalchuk wants him.

And he’d probably the 2nd or 3rd best scoring threat on the team … not too shabby for a walk-on type player.

I can’t imagine a scenario where he does not make the team, unless it is a financial reason.

Adam

September 26th, 2009
11:42 am

At this point I would have to agree, sign Max. Kane just doesn’t seem ready at this point. That’s not to say that by December he’d have his head around the system and find his roll. I just don’t think the team has that kind of time at the moment, there’s no guarantee we’d be on the plus side of .500 at the point and ready to make a run. It’s just to freakn bad it’s the WHL he has to go back to, where I too not only worry about injury but the possible lack of development at that level of play. The main plus is the extra year will give his body time to finish developing. That AHL age rule needs a serious looking at.

As far as Fleury. I’ve always liked his play, especially when he was at his best. Given all of his experience in life, both good & bad, I feel he could be a great asset as a mentor while being good for maybe 15-25 points on the 4th line while transitioning into a coaching position. (That is if he’s truly rehabilitated…) The 2 questions are: A) do we have the room for him and B) how would he and JA get along. I think he still has something to contribute to hockey and I truly hope he finds a home somewhere as he enters into the next chapter of his life.

Brendan

September 26th, 2009
12:14 pm

How old is Fleury now?

I’m in favor of signing Max, provisionally. 1) Kovalchuk agrees and wants it. 2) That the contract be a responsible one, and not one that hinders us or PREVENTS US from adding talent at the trade deadline, should a playoff spot actually be in sight.

Same deal with Manny. If it’s a two-way, league-minimum deal, I suppose that’s fine. I haven’t seen Theo Fleury play to assess him.

Shawn@GSG

September 26th, 2009
12:41 pm

I say sign Max and in no way deal with Theo. I’d much rather take a chance with a player on the bubble between Chicago and Atlanta. The strength of this team is it’s youth and I think we have enough of a veteran presence as it is. I anxiously await the beginning of the season – drop the friggin’ puck already!

Todd Brennand

September 26th, 2009
12:45 pm

I would be cautious with the Fleury signing. Coach Sutter in Calgary noted that he would only be effective as a top 6 winger on the team, and while his mind was capable his 41 year old legs just could not keep up with the pace….in pre-season no less. Once the regular season starts and all the rookies and wanna-be’s go back where they belong (junior, AHL etc) the game will only quicken ten-fold. Given the legs, youth and up-tempo pace on the Thrashers I see a similar dilemna shaping up. No doubt he is a great mentor and a role-model of what to do and especially not to do once you enter the NHL and have money and power, but the expense will be too great in my opinion in terms of his on-ice play.

Shawn@GSG

September 26th, 2009
12:48 pm

Brendan – Fleury is 41…..

Alan R.

September 26th, 2009
1:01 pm

I’m cautious about Afinogenov, but we might as well sign him. And Legace, too.

Absolutely not to Fleury. We already have a logjam at the top six as it is.

World Be Free

September 26th, 2009
1:08 pm

Todd-thanks for your input. Most of the folks that have joined our blog have made a habit of bashing Atlanta and our fan. Nice to have some positive, constructive input from the Great White North.

Send me a case of Labatts “50″ Ale, my favorite ale in the hole wide world.

pond scum

September 26th, 2009
1:23 pm

I’ve been an advocate for signing Max,so ya’ll know how I feel.

But another player who has really stuck out with good play has been Fritche, I hope he gets signed as well.He has been great on the PK,our biggest weakness for a couple seasons now.

And I know Moose is a very well liked player,I like him as well…. but what about a Pavs/Legace tandem until we see what happens with Kari? Might we carry 3 goalies until then?

Alan R.

September 26th, 2009
1:25 pm

Might we carry 3 goalies until then?

In a recent interview, John Anderson said this is a distinct possibility.

Russian

September 26th, 2009
2:18 pm

9 players have been cut regarding Chris.

TMAC

September 26th, 2009
2:33 pm

THIS IS CRAZY. I BET MAX IS ALREADY SIGNED. HE IS ONE OF THE TOP 5 ON THE TEAM RIGHT NOW SO HOW CAN YOU NOT SIGN HIM. MOST OF HIS INJURIES IN BUFFALO WERE NOIT EVEN INJURIES. HE WAS JUST HEALTHY SCRATCH BECAUSE LINDY RUFF IS AN IDIOT THAT THINKS HE KNOWS HOW TO COACH BUT BUFFALO MANAGEMENT STILL HAS NOT FIGURED THAT OUT YET

kreedham

September 26th, 2009
3:12 pm

How come Kane can’t go to Chicago? What’s the rule?

five_hole

September 26th, 2009
3:17 pm

9 players were sent to Chicago, including Crabb & Postma.
http://thrashers.nhl.com/club/news.htm?id=499933&navid=DL|ATL|home

Alan R.

September 26th, 2009
3:27 pm

How come Kane can’t go to Chicago?

As Kane is still of the age to play in Juniors, he cannot go to Chicago as he still has Junior eligibility. It’s as per the CBA.

Hockey Biltong

September 26th, 2009
3:35 pm

Tharsher 27 thanks for the tip. I thought it was just a financial penalty keeping Kane between Chicago and Atl.

Sara

September 26th, 2009
3:46 pm

Sign Max – no reason not too.

So 9 more are gone…when are the rest getting jettisoned? Is it by opening night that the roster has to be down to 23? And speaking of keeping 3 goalies on the roster, does that include Kari or can he be on IR and not count? I suppose either way that leaves 20 available spots – 13 forwards and 7 d-men. Which IMO leaves no room for Kane at all once final cuts are made unless the team is willing to take the chance of bringing up another forward via waivers once Kane leaves after game 9?

I dunno – too many technical issues.

Todd Brennand

September 26th, 2009
4:08 pm

TMAC – I actually think Max’s injuries were legitimate. Lindy was never one to shy away from telling the press exactly why Max was being benched and as such he would not use an injury as a cover up to one of his simple routine benchings. Lindy is a good hockey mind, but he definitely prefered the defense-first type players such as Chris Drury. He seemed to hate Max’s penchant for sacrificing his defensive positioning for an offensive opportunity. All it would take was one turnover and his Max was nailed to the bench. I am really hoping that JA let’s him play his game and pairs him with a defensively responsible player and also one who can shoot the puck. Max’s best year was with Roy and Vanek where there were always two offensive choices on the ice and as such Max could avoid a double team. I heard he was penciled in with Todd and Slava which would be a perfect second line threat.

World Be Free – 50, eh?! A classic lager which still has an almost cult following up here. I would send it down to ya but I fear it may only serve as a catalyst to a border party for the duty patrol. ;)

Thrashers27

September 26th, 2009
4:16 pm

No problem, Biltong

Kreedham,

My understanding of the rule is that a player either has to have spent four years in juniors, or be beyond the age of 20 in order to be considered for a roster spot on an AHL team. There are however provisions for rehab stints in the AHL such as what Bogosian went through last season after breaking his leg.

Darkhorse

September 26th, 2009
4:53 pm

No surprises on the cuts so far really. Crabb’s had plenty of chances to establish himself in some type of role here over the last year or so, and Stapleton did well, but his size and the logjam at forward were probably the two things he could not overcome. Hope Kulda and Postma continue to develop well with the Wolves. Hope to see both of them here next year, maybe even spot filler duty later this season.

Regarding Max-As long as it’s a one year deal for reasonable, so that if he does go down with an injury, he can be replaced and not take up too much cap. I think the upside far outweighs the bad.

Legace-Hmmmmmm…..I lean towards playing Pavs as the number one until he falters, if he’s the future. Legace is a nice stop gap, but their not gonna send Hedberg packing to let Legace back up Pavs. So if Legace is here, it’s to be a starter for now I believe. Truthfully, all of the goalies in camp make me feel uneasy still. Not sure what the right thing to do is here.

rightshot

September 26th, 2009
5:16 pm

Hi ya’ll.

I say sign Max and Legace. Both have lots of experience and could help mentor some of the younger guys, although I have a feeling Kovy or Slava will be mentoring Max some too. Legace would probably be a good mentor foe Paves, or Moose for that matter, but either way, I think he’s still got some left in the tank and would like to see what he can do.

As for Theo, only, and I mean only, if he’s willing to play 4th or if really needed 3rd line minutes. With the depth we seem to have this season, he might be able to do very well for a season, but no longer than two.

I kinda hope that it’s Pavs and Legacy. Moose could be traded or bumped upstairs. Kari possibly rehabbed and traded, but I honestly don’t know for what or whom. (Or is t who?) We could always keep Kari and trade Pavs if he does his usual good 2 games bad 5 number again.

That’s my opinion, we’d like to hear yours.

ben

September 26th, 2009
5:26 pm

sign max, not manny

Rawhide

September 26th, 2009
6:00 pm

Theo + 41-years old = Too old.

That equates to “Do Not Sign”.

ben

September 26th, 2009
6:03 pm

stay away from theo, he was great, but he went down hill

Dwayne

September 26th, 2009
6:07 pm

I think Manny is the better option at STARTER, I do not think Opie can handle the 5 game road trip. I’d let Moose back up Manny and let Opie start in Chicago. Ladies and Gentlemen, the Thrashers can not have a bad start. I would rather be able to say, 2 veterans played goalie and couldn’t get it done, than to have a rookie, or somewhat of a rookie, get shelled. And then be saying, we should of went with the veterans.

World Be Free

September 26th, 2009
6:20 pm

Todd B- “50″, Molson Brador or John Labatt’s Extra Stock. OV too.
Thanks for your accurate assessment of Max in Buffalo. I compared Max to Mikko Makela yesterday, there are similarities. Max never went to the net either, so that made him expedable to me. Maybe things will be different here.

Theo Fleury? If we are interested in Theo, then why not Forsburg? Soemone yesterday said Mats will never leave Canada and I agree with that statement. Forsburg is a possibility.

TMAC-caps lock is on, it’s only hockey and we don’t own the team.

Do we have the lineups for tomorrow? Guess alotta that depends on who gets cut and when the cuts take place.

Evander needsa to go back to Western Canada-I like to see him here but I do not believe he is ready.

What about Frische? He’s an upgrade over Thorny, but I like Thorny’s heart.

Curly

September 26th, 2009
6:45 pm

I say: Sign Max – let Kane go back to Vancouver; sign Manny to a two-way; sign Fritsche – waive Thorburn; and Sign Pops – send Valabik to the Wolves. Oh.. and keep Gratton on the team.

Thrashers27

September 26th, 2009
7:08 pm

I agree with everything you laid out there, Curly…Fritsche has to be a two-way deal to fill in for Reasoner, or Slates if and when they’re hurt. Gratton should play in place of Thorburn.

Dwayne

September 27th, 2009
9:00 am

Need Gratton, need more than just Kubina and Bolts to protect Kovy, Max, Little, Pevs, Kozzy, and our Goalie, whoever that might be.

Lee

September 28th, 2009
6:52 am

just get it over with! its not like max and man are epensive players! they’re certainly no ovechkin! so just do it!