No Matter Where Evander Plays It Won’t Be The Right Place

OK kids…preseason play is over and we now await the final decisions from the judges to see who is the last group of players to be voted off of Thrashers Island. The judges of course being John Anderson and his coaching staff…Don Waddell and Rick Dudley will certainly have a say so in this matter as well.

Now, speaking of voting players off of the island, I have to admit that I was a little surprised to see which player was the top vote getter in the Thrashers Fan Poll that I incorporated into Sunday’s blog. At the time of this posting, Evander Kane led the pack with Boris Valabik close behind.

I expected Kane to get some votes, but not be the one with the most votes off the island.

To hear Waddell tell it, Kane is going to get an eight or nine game look-see to begin the season before a decision is made to send him back down to the WHL. My take on this is… if Maxim Afinogenov is signed here… I just don’t see whose place Evander would take in the lineup.

Kozlov? White? Peverley? Armstrong?

I don’t think so.

However, I can see this happening if Colby Armstrong…who has not seen action since leaving early on in last Monday’s game against Carolina…is not healthy enough to play come Saturday. Kane could easily handle his slot in the lineup pending Army’s return.

Outside of that…I think it’s best to sending him on his way to Vancouver unless the team decides to tell Max, “Thanks for your time and consideration to our organization, but we’ve decided to go a different route”.

Either way it goes regarding Evander Kane, he will not wind up where I think he truly belongs right now. I don’t think he’s ready for full time duty in the NHL…and I think he’s proven all he can in the WHL. If he were able to go to the AHL Chicago Wolves, I think that’d be the best for him and the team. But of course, the rules of that league prohibit him from fine-tuning his talents there given his age of just 18-years old.

So, this is one of the tough choices the team faces in the next couple of days.

Speaking of choices…as stated above, we should soon find out if Maxim Afinogenov has passed his audition with the team. Did he have a stellar game yesterday? Ahhhh….no. But really, outside of Rich Peverley and Anssi Salmela, no one did. Salmela’s good showing helped his cause to try and stick around here for a while longer.

Another decision facing the Thrashers has to do with the goalkeeping situation. For weeks now Don Waddell has indicated that he feels Ondrej Pavelec should be the one to start against the Bolts this weekend and probably handle the bulk of the duties until Kari Lehtonen is ready to go.

And for a while there it looked like Opie was becoming that solidifying force the team needs between the pipes. In his first couple of games, he got off to a good showing. In the second exhibition game of the season, he held Tampa Bay to a pair of goals on 34 shots on goals during an overtime loss. In his second game… last Wednesday versus the Preds… he held Nashville to one goal on 24 SOG during the first two periods. That’s 3 goals on 58 shots in five periods plus almost a full overtime period. This is very good.

However, since that time he has surrendered 8 goals on 39 shots in his last four periods of action. That equates to a .795 SV% in the most recent 80 minutes of work. This is very un-good…and unfortunately it is also an all-too familiar pattern with Pavs. Start off strong for a couple of games, then fall of the edge.

Opie gives up one of the five goals to the Bolts Sunday. Tampa Bay returns Saturday and this time...it'll count. (AP photo/ John Amis)

Opie gives up one of the five goals to the Bolts Sunday. Tampa Bay returns Saturday and this time...it'll count. (AP photo/ John Amis)

Granted, three of those five goals Sunday came while Tampa Bay was on the power play…one of them resulting from Opie’s handling of the puck outside of the trapezoid…but this still doesn’t instill a lot of confidence that he’s ready to have the keys to the goal store handed over to him just yet. Not to me, at least.

To that point, Don Waddell did say prior to the game that he planned on being in touch with Manny Legace’s agent soon.

Hey Don, here’s a quarter. Call someone who…well, someone who represents Manny.

105 comments Add your comment

J.B.

September 28th, 2009
2:41 pm

I wasn’t there yesterday… is there some concensus on WHY nearly everyone on the team collectively sucked out loud?

GaVaHokie

September 28th, 2009
2:51 pm

I wasn’t there either, but perhaps everyone thought that Anderson’s system had an “auto-pilot” function.

I wish I had more input, but this is the first time in a LONG time I haven’t actually seen the team pre-season or in camp.

I gotta think we could get by without Afinogenov, personally, but Legace?… I think you have to sign him.

If anything, you need someone to yell at Boris when he’s out of position… this team needs more “chatter” on the ice.

Smoothie

September 28th, 2009
2:52 pm

Ryan Craig of the TBL was just put on waivers to go down to AHL? Do we poach him to be our PK “specialist”? He’s a better goal scorer than Thorburn, Fritsche and Gratton. Hmmmmm…

J.B.

September 28th, 2009
2:54 pm

Per Kevin Allen of USA Today (@kausatoday)on Twitter, Fritsche has been cut.

Matt

September 28th, 2009
2:55 pm

Man, “inhaling vigorously” is NOT want you want to see in the last pre-seaon game.

Opie, needs vastly improved concentration and rebound control.

Boris, big, tough dude, but ya gotta wonder about what is going on in his head sometimes.

Hope that this is NOT a sign of things to come to open the season.

DROP THE PUCK ALREADY!!

Toby

September 28th, 2009
2:55 pm

…and we’re going to keep Popovic

J.B.

September 28th, 2009
2:55 pm

…he also notes that the thrashers are trying to get a deal done with Popovic

Matt

September 28th, 2009
2:59 pm

Isn’t it time to start an Ilya Nikulin thread??

(Shouts of “Oh, Dear God… NO!!!!!!!!!! echo throughout Blueland)

Hockey Biltong

September 28th, 2009
3:05 pm

Hockey Time, that’s what time it is!!! The next game is for real and I can hardly wait. How about y’all????

Sara

September 28th, 2009
3:09 pm

Matt – I’m uber-upset at not having Nikulin this year ’cause we’re one red d-man shy of our own Russian 5. Wonder if we can change Zach’s name to Bogosianov?

J.B.

September 28th, 2009
3:10 pm

Biltong – ABSOLUTELY LOSING MY MIND EXCITED FOR SATURDAY NIGHT!!!!

…not to mention the party that will begin in and around CNN Center that afteroon :-)

GaVaHokie

September 28th, 2009
3:12 pm

Speaking of 1st Round draft busts… Robbie Schrempf is on waivers in Edmonton.

http://www.hockeybuzz.com/blog/Eklund/Robbie-Schremp-on-Waivers–Who-is-Interested/1/23263

Russian

September 28th, 2009
3:12 pm

**to JB**
Interesting, that Fritchi has been cut. I think Army is not ready to play and Kane will take his spot.
They are trying to get Popovic. It will be good addition.

AB

September 28th, 2009
3:16 pm

Regarding our goaltending situation, I still cannot understand why a) Manny hasn’t gotten more playing time (40 minutes) & b) why Waddell hsan’t signed him to at least a one year contract. Statistically, he’s the best we’ve got going into the season. I personally believe a Legace/Hedberg lineup though a bit old is better than a Pavelc/Hedberg lineup until Kari “Let them all in” returns. I firmly believe that until the Thrashers find a solid goaltender, they will not be a consistent playoff team.

Smoothie

September 28th, 2009
3:17 pm

Let’s hope the Popovic contract gets done quickly and Big Boris is on the next flight to Chicago. Doubtful.

I reckon Oystrick will get sent down since he has the 2-way deal and has immunity from waivers I believe (under 160 gms played). I would say Salmela but he has a one-way deal and there’s no way the cheap ASG is paying him $612 K to play Top 2 mins for CHI.

Now that Fritsche is gone, I reckon Thorburn is safe, but Gratton may still be in consideration. I think Gratton will get offered a 2-way deal to be insurance for our 4th line. As for Kane vs. Afinogenov, I have no idea at this point. If we are truly serious about improving our special teams, namely the PK, then Kane makes a better option at this time or snatching a guy like Craig from TB off of waivers.

Much like WBF, I’m very much on the fence with Max. We can’t afford his defensive lapses or floating when we need more defensively responsible guys to help limit shots on our questionable goalies. Speaking of which, my gut tells me Pavs is going back to CHI and we will sign Legace to start with Moose backing him up till Kari comes off IR.

J.B.

September 28th, 2009
3:20 pm

AB – If I’m not mistaken, DW said recently that he would be in touch with Manny’s agent shortly.

Daculafan

September 28th, 2009
3:23 pm

Consensus on why we stunk it up yesterday…I’d have to say that we were just flat…we didn’t play well really on either end of the ice…we took several stupid penalties..and were not very disciplined. I’m hoping it was just one of those down nights that all teams experience from time to time.

Boris very un-good. Pavs well…goals 1 and 2..I don’t really blame him for..can’t remember on 3…but 4 was all his fault..he should have stopped it and honestly by 5 I didn’t care.

We’re still not spending any appreciable amount of time in the offensive zone..we’re very much still a “catch them on the rush” type team…we don’t cycle down low enough.

I think Pops earned a spot…give the nod to Max..need Manny…send Kane to Vancouver

AB

September 28th, 2009
3:33 pm

J.B., I know. But I also know Waddell’s reluctance to give the team a chance and will tell his agent, “Thanks for your time, however we just fill Manny isn’t part of the direction we are taknig the club.” Waddell wants Pavelec in goal on Saturday night. Simple as that. As far as yesterday, I hope that was just the eagerness of training camp being over and not how we’ll really play. I forked out a good bit of money for season tickets for a second time, so hopefully like the last time I bought tix, they’ll make the playoffs.

Darkhorse

September 28th, 2009
3:46 pm

Tough for Fritsche. He was given more time than anyone else in camp just about to prove he belonged though. Anderson knows the PK is as bad as a Yugo in a classic car auction, but Fritsche couldn’t show him enough to warrant a contract. Their may be some interesting names on waivers the next few days that may fill the PK role better. Smoothie mentioned Craig as an idea.

Did Gratton play any on the PK this preseason? Is he an option there, or too slow/penalty prone for the PK?

Christy

September 28th, 2009
3:50 pm

J.B. – to expand on Daculafan’s comment…
it’s not just the “several stupid penalties” it’s that there were, if I remember correctly 8 of them, including Boris’ 10 minute misconduct at the start of the 2nd, and Antropov’s 5 minutes for boarding at the end of the 1st. That’s 27 minutes either a man short or with a player out of rotation. I would submit that that scenario is not conducive to a good game.

J.B.

September 28th, 2009
3:55 pm

Christy & others – Thanks for the input. I think it’s easier to deal with a loss like that if there’s a reason behind it. I wasn’t there and didn’t get a chance to listen to the radio either, so it was difficult to get a hold of what was going on soley based on blog updates and tweets. The more I think about it, I’m of the opinion this was likely an isolated incident of a bad luck game. We’ve got too many good players for that to happen consistently…

World Be Free

September 28th, 2009
4:06 pm

I like Frische too. He wasn’t in the lineup last night. Thorburn was
about the only guy who gave 100% last night, but he always does.

Smoothie-thanks for jumping on my Max anti-bandwagon. Now there’s 2 of us.

jared

September 28th, 2009
4:07 pm

im willing to give Kane time to try out on the NHL level. If he does better than average
might as well let him stay, move reasoner down, toss thorburn and slater, add gratton.

I like that Maxim wants to stay but frankly i believe he will be the same player he was the last few years

Sara

September 28th, 2009
4:07 pm

Per Ben’s Twitter – Legace has also been released.

ahem – BIG mistake.

jared

September 28th, 2009
4:10 pm

World be Free and Smoothie- make it a triumvirate

Maxim is a name for the organisation i dont think he will perform

Pam on Weck

September 28th, 2009
4:16 pm

WBF – I have apathygenov regarding Max. I’m not convinced he’s the player we need, but also not quite un-convinced. I really enjoy saying his name tho.

Sitting in 219 for opener. Where’s everyone else?

AB

September 28th, 2009
4:17 pm

Yup, figured ol Waddell would cut Legace. Is Kane to young for the Glads? The Thrashers co do a Tommy Hanson esque play with Kane.

Toby

September 28th, 2009
4:18 pm

I wonder if dealings with Manny was a $$ problem…

Rawhide

September 28th, 2009
4:22 pm

Yup…Legace cut. I can only expect it came down to money.

%$#&#@!

Now, fo those of you advocate using Kane up here for 9 games…tell me which player loses ice time to him for those nine games, (assuming a healthy Armstrong, a signed Max).

Ilya Kovalchuk? Bryan Little? Nik Antropov? Maxim Afinogenov? Slava Kozlov? Todd White? Marty Reasoner? Rich Peverley or Colby Armstrong?

Or…do you put him on the fourth line?

Or…do you sit him in the press box?

jared

September 28th, 2009
4:25 pm

Rawhide: Maxim sits…i would delay contract negotiations with him while kane plays

R. Stroz

September 28th, 2009
4:30 pm

With the ASG, it always comes down to dollars and no sense.

Send Kane down, he’s not ready, why handicap the team for nine games?

Christy

September 28th, 2009
4:31 pm

RE the Gladiators – can someone explain to me how a team can be an affilate for two different NHL teams? i.e. wouldn’t one team find it to be an issue if they wanted a certain scheme or player prioritized?

AB

September 28th, 2009
4:34 pm

Toby, Rawhide- For some reason, I just don’t think it was a $$$ with Legace. After he got hurt/cut with the Blues and spent a good chunk of last season in Peoria, I can’t see him wanting a ton of money knowing he was just invited on a pro try-out. I’m sure it may have had something to do with it, but with what he had said in other interviews, he was just happy to be back on a NHL team. (Yes, I know he was just saying that but still). He probably wanted the starting spot (and rightfully so, IMO) and Waddell said no. I mean Pavalec is his man. I don’t get the mgmt of this team sometimes. We’ve been around for 10 years now and we’ve yet to have a consistent, healthy goaltender. And I’m not ripping on Kari. Truth is, if he were on any other club he’d be a back-up and not a starter. After seeing Hedberg in person last Monday and reading about Pavelec’s struggles, I’m very nervous about our chances on a strong start this year.

Sara

September 28th, 2009
4:35 pm

In defense of the organization and without knowing the whole story … Manny may not have wanted to be here based on his position on the depth chart. He came in here to battle for a regular roster spot. Let’s face it – Pavs is likely to get the go-ahead here and Legace wasn’t going to supplant Moose as back-up. Nevermind if Kari comes back … and really one cannot fault Waddell for not making promises he could not keep. Legace cannot be guaranteed a spot with the Thrashers for an entire season.

That said, at this point I’d take him over Pavs but that’s not my decision to make either …

Wings fan in Ga.

September 28th, 2009
4:39 pm

Happy Hockey Season everyone. …

Something off topic here (sorry) – I read somewhere, although don’t remember, that the NHL Network won’t show all of the Hockey Night in Canada games. Have any of y’all heard or read anything about that?

GaVaHokie

September 28th, 2009
4:41 pm

I like everyone else, would have liked to see Legace, but I’m guessing he probably wasn’t willing to sign a two-way deal… seriously, what do you do with the guy when Lehtonen comes back?

And forget about any ideas of “trading Letemin” or “making Moose a goalie coach”… none of that B.S. is happening. The truth is, we got too many goalies as it is with Manino, MacIntyre and Pavelec on top of Moose and Lehts.

Rawhide

September 28th, 2009
4:46 pm

Colin Stuart was just placed on waivers by Cal-GARY.

GaVaHokie

September 28th, 2009
4:48 pm

Oh man… we should definitely grab Stuart again… how nice would that be?

World Be Free

September 28th, 2009
4:49 pm

Guess Manny wasn’t an upgrade over the current tandem of Moose and Pavs. I thought they would keep him until Kari came back.

R. Stroz

September 28th, 2009
4:49 pm

Grab Colin Stuart…that’s a no brainer.

Sara

September 28th, 2009
4:58 pm

I 3rd that snagging Stuart back motion.

Russ

September 28th, 2009
5:00 pm

I haven’t seen Brendan around much lately, but hopefully he will get my predictions for the coming season.

82 Pts., 4th in the Southeast, 12th in the East. If Ilya signs an extension before opening night (highly unlikely IMO), please bump my predictions to 85/3rd/10th.

Toby

September 28th, 2009
5:00 pm

As bad as our PK is…get ‘em.

Our goalie situation right now is scary…

georgia girl

September 28th, 2009
5:06 pm

grab Stuart!!!!!! Too bad about Dan Fritsche he seemed to do well during the games that he played in.

Fan from Carolina

September 28th, 2009
5:10 pm

I understand the point of where to play Kane but I can’t help but think of Stamkos last year in Tampa. He just was HORRIBLE at the start and Melrose didn’t help his progress either. At the halfway mark with Tocchet in charge he turned into a legit NHL-er, a real good one! What if he was sent down early in the season as all the gurus and Canadian media insisted?? He would have lost out on all that development. Stamkos is now ready to play his 2nd season of NHL hockey and be quite productive. Kane isn’t quite Stamkos but he is the Atlanta future. Don’t limit his potential development. Most everyone struggles as a rookie but they learn so much! Let him play and see how he develops. Also some one posted earlier about picking up Ryan Craig. Too many injuries and really slooowwww. If Tampa dumped him, the Thrashers don’t need him.

StateBird

September 28th, 2009
5:21 pm

Glad to see Manny go … I don’t know if Opie can get us to the promised land (and I tend to doubt it), but I do know that Manny can NOT. I’ll always take a chance on youth over a no-chance on a aged veteran. That has been one of my major complaints with DW since the inception of the franchise. (Some of that blame can certainly be shared with Hartley.) I used to hear this complaint echoed here but seems like everybody wanted to settle on the average goalie that they knew over the young, but risky, alternative.

p.s. agree that signing Stuart is a no-brainer.

Brendan

September 28th, 2009
5:30 pm

Russ, I’m here. And you are locked in at 82-points, tied to a 4th place finish in the SE Division, and 12th overall in the Eastern Conference. Good luck. Your pick and mine are fairly close. Everyone has until “puck drop” on Opening Night to register a vote. Most people have already voted, if they were going to vote. If you want to change your vote, that is also permitted, until “puck drop” on Opening Night, on October 3, 2009. After that, we cut it off. The contest opened back on August 28, 2009. More than ample time, I’d say, to enter a vote.

I fourth, fifth and sixth that Colin Stuart acquisition. If we get Colin back, it’d be like sending XLB to Toronto for Kubina and Stapleton, plus we got to keep Colin Stuart. I really like Colin Stuart. I was sad to see him traded. But, it wasn’t as if we couldn’t replace a bottom six forward.

Eileen

September 28th, 2009
5:30 pm

Wow, Pavs is the guy? I am definitely feeling very apprehensive about that decision. Not that I wouldn’t be feeling the same way about Kari, but at least he shows some consistency when he is not injured.

Get The Puck Out

September 28th, 2009
5:41 pm

It’s gonna be just like that year when we had a revolving door for goalies. I hate it. I hate it. I hate it.

ranallo10 (in AT)

September 28th, 2009
5:41 pm

Before the trade I figured Stuart would be the opening night 3rd line LW. I hope Atlanta has the opportunity to re-claim Stuart so he can get back to clicking with Chicago and eventually Atlanta. If Popovic and McCarthy are back, why not Stuart?

I’m surprised about Fritsche, I thought his PK abilities and combination of experience/youth would win him the job. Apparently I was wrong.