Thrashers Math 101 – Statistics and Projections

Thrasher-Math 101 class at the University of Thrasherville…the rowdiest class on the cyber-campus assembles…Professor Rawhide takes the lectern

OK, class…settle down…quiet now, please, class… Class? …CLASS? …SHUT UP!!!

ahem…Thank you.

Ranallo, Tony C., Smoothie, World Be Free, Paminski and RiceOwls8891, if you’ll be so kind as to put away those hockey sticks and take your seats…Rstroz, please refrain from utilizing that bullhorn while inside the classroom… Sage, if you must bring sheep to the campus, please make sure they remain outside on the lawn.

Also… Spud Webb, Kracker and GaVaHokie…I will not tolerate another “Professor Chant” being started up today…do you understand, gentlemen?

Now then, before we….

ummm… Hockey Biltong, is that a Guiness you’re sipping on there in class? Uh-huh…and did you bring enough for everyone? No…no you didn’t? Well, you know the rule…if you didn’t bring enough for everyone, then you can’t drink one yourself. So just hand it over, young man. Thank you.

Thrasherville may soon see the return of Ilya Kovalchuk who had 9 goals and 1 assists before a puck to the foot sidelined him on Oct. 24 (AJC photo)

Thrasherville may soon see the return of Ilya Kovalchuk who had 9 goals and 1 assists before a puck to the foot sidelined him on Oct. 24 (AJC photo)

Now where was I…oh yes…before we begin class today, I’d like to acknowledge Professor Brendan who teaches our Thrasher Theory 101 class…Professor Sara of Thrasher Phylosophy 101…and Professor Bob who presides over Thrasher History 101. Thank you each for sitting in today.

Trixie will join us later, just as soon as her massage class concludes in the gymnasium. This must explain the obvious absence of Alan…even though he has signed up and taken that class seven times before.

And with that aside…on to today’s topic.

The Thrashers are now fourteen games into the season, so today we’ll take a look at some overall team stats as well as a few individual numbers as well. We’ll then project those numbers out over the course of the 82 game season to forcast possible results.

Please keep in mind, however, that these “projections” are not to be confused as “predictions”… this is just a simple exercise in stats and numbers to use as a particular point of reference…a snapshot in time, if you will…to be used as analytical data later in the course as actual numbers unfold.

First, the Thrashers have a record of 7-6-1 for 15 points, which equates to a points winning percentage of .536. If continued, that would put them on a pace for a record of something like 39-34-10 for 88 points.

Not now Slates, I'm trying to pay attention in Rawhide's class, (AJC photo)

Not now Joey, I'm trying to pay attention in Rawhide's class, (AJC photo)

Anyway…that .536 points winning % right now is the 19th best in the NHL and 9th best in the Eastern Conference, just below Tampa Bay’s .567 PW% and just above the .529 level of the Boston Bruins after their 3-0 win over Pittsburgh Tuesday night.

The Thrashers are scoring goals at a 3.36 per game clip, which would come to about 276 if sustained through 82 games…that is exactly the amount scored last year. They allow 3.14 goals per game, a projected 257 goals for the season… which would be 23 fewer than last season.

For historical reference, the fewest amount of a goals a Thrashers defense has ever allowed in a season is 243 in 2003-04. They let up 245 in the 2006-07 playoff season. Their best offensive output…281 during the 2005-06 campaign.

Last season defensemen scored 31 goals for Atlanta. So far this season the blueline has chipped in 16. If this pace is continued, they woul account for 94 goals.

Now, as far as individual numbers go…let’s take a quick gander at a handful of players and compare, contrast and project, shall we.

We recently learned that Ilya Kovalchuk, who had accounted for 9 goals and an assist prior to his injury on October 24, could be back with the team quicker than originally thought…which is very good news indeed. So, assuming he does return Thursday and misses only 6 games, he would be on pace for about 95 points in 76 games played.

Rich Peveley currently is on track to score 100 points (AP/Gregory Smith)

Thrasherville's triple-digit man? Rich Peveley currently is on track to score 100 points (AP/Gregory Smith)

Rich Peverley has 7 goals and 10 assists and his 17 overall points leads the team. This puts him currently on a pace for 100 points…41 goals and 59 assists. Compare that to his 20 goals and 32 assists in 66 games last season between Nashville and Atlanta.

OK, I’ll make you this one prediction here…if the Pevs Dispenser accumulates 100 points this season, the Thrashers will be in the playoffs. Just sayin’…

Second on the team in team points is Nik Antropov, who has yet to score his first goal as a Thrasher but has dished out 13 assists so far. It’s kind of tough to project goals and assists given his current stats, but 13 points after 14 games is a pace that would get him 76 points. Last season he netted 59 overall points in 81 games split between Toronto and the Rangers…a career high.

Then there is Maxim Afinogenov, who has provided 3 goals and 8 assists. Max’s best offensive season was back in 2005-06 when in 77 games his 22 goals and 51 assists made up 73 overall points. He’s on a course right now for 17 goals and 47 assists for 64 points.

That would not be a bad return for $800,000.

Also with 3 goals and 8 assists and on pace for 64 points in is blueliner Pavel Kubina. His career high for offensive production is 40, achieved during the last two seasons while in Toronto.

Evander Kane + 36 projected points = Good (AP Photo/Gregory Smith)

Evander Kane + 36 projected points = Good (AP Photo/Gregory Smith)

Combine Kubina’s numbers with the solid, dependable work in the Thrashers defensive zone and that trade last summer just looks all that much better for Don Waddell, eh?

Defenseman Zach Bogosian has led the way for a very offensive-minded defensive corps. 6 goals and 2 helpers have him on a pace for 35 goals, 12 assists for 47 overall points. In his rookie year he accounted for 9 goals and 10 assists for 19 points during an injury-shorted season in which he playing in 47 games.

As for Colby Armstrong…he has a pair of goals and three assists and is on a course currently for about 29 points. This is after a 40-point showing last season…but a lot of that time was spent on the top-two lines. I personally wouldn’t be surprised if he finishes closer to 40 than 29.

Marty Reasoner’s 6 points has him on a pace for about 5 more points than last season’s 30…which would be a bonus given his responsible play in the defensive side of the ice and his penalty killing prowess.

A player with 3 goals and 3 assists so far would be on track for an 18 goals and 36 points kinda season… if all 82 games are played in by said player. Is that good or bad? Well, I guess that depends on what player we are speaking of. In the case of rookie Evander Kane…whose 3 goals and 3 assists so far point him in the vicinity of 18 goals and 18 assists…that would be a very, very good total for the 18-year old playing in the NHL for the first time.

Todd White + 13 projected points = Un-Good (AP/Gregory Smith)

Todd White + 36 projected points = Un-Good (AP/Gregory Smith)

For Todd White, however…not so much. He’ s coming off a career-high 22 goal, 73 point season, and like Kane, also has 3 goals and 6 points at this time. I don’t think too many fans expected another 70+ season out of the 34-year old veteran…but these are un-good numbers early on by just about anyone’s measure.

This is especially true given White’s team-worst –6 rating.

Also fighting it early on is Slava Kozlov. Like Antropov, he is yet to light the lamp this fall but has 5 assists. Given that level of production over 14 games, the current projection is 29 points. Ugh.

And finally, we come to Bryan Little, who by most accounts just hasn’t looked himself on the ice this season. His two goals have come courtesy of Rich Peverley banking the puck in off of his skate and a Toby Enstrom blast that ticked off his stick on the way in toward the net. Combine that with 6 assists and he has 8 overall points. This projects to 47 points over 82 games played.

Surprisingly, however, that is only 4 points off his total last season as he played in 77 games and looked like an All-Star for most of the year.

And now, the class participation portion of today’s lesson…

91 comments Add your comment

Smitty

November 11th, 2009
7:21 am

I still question why Kozlov and White are getting 2nd line minutes. Is Colby playing hurt? Kane is playing well but can he handle 1st or 2nd line minutes for an entire year while helping on the PK. I would like to see a Kane-Peverly-Max combo every once in-a while. Max has played well. He does seem as free-wheeling as he was with the Sabres and he has played well defensively.

The defense tweaking the other night against the Blues seemed to have awakened the defense from their sleep-walking effort against the Isles.

Good to see Kovy might be back tonight. Hope he sees the improvement in this years team. Improvement will be more significant when Kozzy and White wake up. Hope Kovy re-signs bfore December.

Jimbo

November 11th, 2009
7:32 am

Humorous, but strictly a “filler”. We all know that injuries, hot streaks, and other events are going to disrupt a logical line to the finish. In any event, we’ve started OK. It looks like Kovy is back to add energy, leadership and scoring to the forwards and we’ll have a team that is fun to watch. Good job, Rawhide. You keep us up to date on player news. Thanks.

World Be Free

November 11th, 2009
7:43 am

Biltong would only be sipping a Canadian brew, like John Labatt’s Extra Stock or Molson Brador.

Toby

November 11th, 2009
8:20 am

Kevin Allen:

Atlanta Thrashers have joined the Phoenix Coyotes as a team interested in Chris Chelios. Thrashers are merely watching him at this point.

JLH

November 11th, 2009
8:32 am

Thanks Bill, nice to wake up to. I guess the goalie stats are what they are. I’m wondering how many of the Little White Russian line’s points came on the power play last year? Which I’ve got to say has looked pretty inept the last few games, both the 1st and 2nd units.

A couple of corrections:
You got the team points right, but the record is 7-6-1;
Clever photo with Anderson, but I think that’s Crabb, not Sl

GaVaHokie

November 11th, 2009
8:34 am

Thanks Toby… I see Chris Chelios as a mid-season addition to some teams, ala Mats Sundin last year.

Which is better than having guys like Holik on your team for the full season… a lot of vets “dog it” during the first half because they know the final stretch is the most important.

That being said… I’m not exactly thrilled with the possibility.

Michael B. Shapiro

November 11th, 2009
8:56 am

Thrasherville U class?

Brother Rawhide: Young man, give me that knife!”
Zing, thwock, doyng as the knife imbeds itself in the classroom wall.
Brother Rawhide: “Thank you!”

Tom

November 11th, 2009
9:43 am

Here is a beg to Boulton.

If Mr. Avery get’s within 5 feet of Ilya’s foot, please smash his face into next week. Seriously.

Whatever fine and suspension the league offers you we, the loyal fans of the Atlanta Thrashers, will eagerly make up in good and services, and even some cold hard cash.

Sincerely,

Tom

Bob

November 11th, 2009
9:50 am

Good write up, sir. I think the boys held it together pretty well while Kovy was out. I have to believe that White, Kozlov, and Little are going to get it rolling, they may need to mix up the lines here to get those three going.

But mabye this club hangs around where they are now, and some kind of deadline deal is made to bring in a top 6 forward and propel them into a playoff berth.

I would like to see them tighten up defensively now with Kovy back, it seemed that Coach has been letting the D jump into plays recently with Kovy out and our 2nd line stagnant.

I also have to think that Pavelec is going to continue to improve this year, he can steal some games. I have hope for the club to make a run, we’re a middle of the pack club and our fortunes are going to rely on injuries and getting the 2nd line rolling.

Alan R.

November 11th, 2009
10:09 am

If I’m actually absent from class, does that mean I have to participate?

five_hole

November 11th, 2009
10:23 am

Love the “Sister Mary Elephant” reference Bill, but somehow I think I was much more of a Cheech & Chong fan than you were.

I agree with Tom If Kovy does play tonight, I’m worried that Avery will go after his foot.

Get The Puck Out

November 11th, 2009
10:24 am

The forwards will get hot soon and if the defense keeps gettin goals, the opposing goalie is gonna be real busy. Now if we could get the defense to help out OP and moose that would also be a plus. Injury may be the wild card that hurts this team the most. I always did like to cut class.

A2B

November 11th, 2009
10:26 am

Nice post Rawhide. I do have to be curious with Kovy coming back early if this team is going to get a serious jolt of enery and go on a run. I think the Thrashers are also smart to give Mr. Chelios a chance up here, maybe he can teach Valabik some pointers on how to move his feet and improve his shot.

World Be Free

November 11th, 2009
10:26 am

five_hole
Wasn’t the church “Our Lady of 114th Street”?

Spicoli

November 11th, 2009
10:41 am

Are we gonna’be like,responsible for this info for the final?

Putting On The Foil

November 11th, 2009
11:12 am

Anybody know the guy that’s always in the picture behind the bench? This guy gets alot of tv time too. Just curious.

Dwayne

November 11th, 2009
11:15 am

5 hole, Thrashers play tomorrow night.

Dwayne

November 11th, 2009
11:45 am

There was a beautiful Blonde their Sunday, I do believe. But, the guy your talking about is an American Indian named Chief Constipated Buffalo. Which translate to Mr. Poopy Pants.

Nate

November 11th, 2009
11:45 am

Rawhide – As a teacher myself, I find this blog entry both accurate and entertaining. Nice job. And let’s seriously hope Slava, Little, and Whitey’s current projections pan out better than the current numbers forecast.

Sadtoseeitthisway

November 11th, 2009
11:59 am

Keep Boris in drydock. And don`t even think of signing Chelios, he was pitiful in the token time the Red Wings gave him at the end of last season. He just needs to fade away and wait his time for the HOF.

World Be Free

November 11th, 2009
12:13 pm

Very nice Bill, good look forward to what we might expect for the balance of this season. We won’t talk about goaltending, because it is lunch time and we want everyone to be able to hold their food down.

The big intangible for me is coaching. This is where John Anderson and company earn their pay. Your “look forward” puts the Thrashers in the middle of the pack, fighting for a playoff spot. Leadership behind the bench will guide the team through the 3 games in 4 nights, the 1 goal games (wins we hope) and future, unexpected injuries.

I think John Anderson is one of the most underrated coaches in the league. We will see if this is the case, with the Thrashers in the mix for a playoff spot.

Can he get the team to play better in front of their own net?
Can the coaches find a way to reduce SOG by 5-7 per game and maintain the offense?
Can Bryan Little and Kozzy get going?
The numbers you have projected require John Anderson’s leadership.

I’d sign Chelios in a heartbeat. Chelly on this team would be like having another asst. coach.

Paminski

November 11th, 2009
12:49 pm

Paminski surreptitiously passes a note.

By my count, our instructor has written 25 blogs since Oct.1 (42 days). Rounded up, that is a blistering pace of 0.6 blogs per day. If this pace continues, we can expect approximately 114 blogs by the end of the regular season. It may be a few less if he takes some time off during the Olympic break.

Please don’t check my accuracy. Math was not my best subject.

Riceowls

November 11th, 2009
1:06 pm

As its Stats class, here are three: Penalty kill 82.5 for 9th. Power play 22.8 for 8th. Combined 105.3. Conventional wisdom is a combined score of 100 or more makes for a playoff team.

And another number: we have yet to play any of our six games against Carolina and Florida who have minus real point numbers. (Thanks Falconer).

Little and Kozlov will come around and the Thrashers will make the playoffs.

Glovesave29

November 11th, 2009
1:10 pm

Jeez Bill, I feel left out. Can I apply for the open postion of Dean of Advanced Goaltending Studies? Since you have to be missing a few marbles to play the net, it could be part of the College of Psychology. I have Sgt. Stedenko as a resource. Dave could be one too, but he’s not here right now.

ThrasherTim

November 11th, 2009
1:14 pm

I really don’t think Chelios is in line to make the Thrashers big club. That would go against everything the Thrashers are developing into on D. Bigger, faster guys looking to jump into the play. Besides, we have 2-3 developing leaders already on defense with Kubina, Hainsey and Bogo.

Thrasher fans, we are 7-6-1 with the minimal output and all around poor D play from Kozlov, Little and White. I’m not saying they are going to magically turn it around and become one of the best 2nd lines in the league, but this goes to our depth on the team that we can survive without their production. Obviously, any kind of improvement will really make this team more dangerous. I know that Little has hit numerous posts lately and Kozlov has had a couple of rob jobs…still, they need to improve for sure.

Well said about not having played Florida or Carolina yet — but we can’t count those as Ws either. Two weeks ago I was probably counting 4-5 points for the latest 3 game swing against a struggling CBJ team, The Islanders and the offensively-challenged Blues and we only got 2 points…and those 2 points needed a lucky bounce to get it. Having said that, I like our chances in those games if we give a solid effort.

Alan R.

November 11th, 2009
1:30 pm

We interrupt this classroom discussion for some breaking news!

We’ve learned exactly how the NHL determines who should get suspended and for how long!

We now return you to this classroom discussion, already in progress.

Sara

November 11th, 2009
2:08 pm

Alan – I read that last night – DGB is always hilarious.

BTW, according to Ben Wright’s latest Tweet, Kovy is NOT playing tomorrow night in NY.

Philosophy huh? Totally subjective, which means I get to subjectively pass or fail whomever I want. Which means the “suck-up-for-an-A” line starts right over there. :P

Paminski

November 11th, 2009
2:17 pm

I hear it is a pleasure to breathe the very air Sara passes through.

Spud Webb

November 11th, 2009
2:32 pm

PRESENT!!!!!!!!!!! a little late though today!!! Story of my life!
I tend to lean against Chelios being here, Kubina is a good leader/model for the young guys. I also think Bogo is quickly becoming a STUD. It’s very, very exciting to think of bogo & kane together for a while at least!
I’m getting worried about Kovy signing. Anyone else? 11-11 and we got no news????????? Someone just say, “spud you’re being silly, Dandy Don will do something he has yet to do in 10 years, the right thing!!”

Alan R.

November 11th, 2009
2:37 pm

I’m getting worried about Kovy signing. Anyone else?

Not I. It is what it is. It’ll be a huge setback if Kovalchuk doesn’t re-sign, but I’m not concerned in the least.

Tony C.

November 11th, 2009
2:40 pm

That flowchart roolz.

I would say it’s official but obviously it’s a few years old-doesn’t have the seperate “crosby bubbles”/ but yah it funny me laugh mucho.

Sara

November 11th, 2009
2:46 pm

Y’all are screwed – Paminski just shot the curve to hell. :D

Tony C. the post-season one had me in stitches … is the guy dead – hahahaha!!!

I tell you what else still has me in stitches – that Halloween video where Army talks about egging Ovy’s house – and he comes out of his Orthodox-domed trailer with the “I <3 Crosby" shirt on …. man, brings tears to my eyes every time. That and Kovy's "Hainsey loves mirror and mirror loves him."

God I love our team.

Tom

November 11th, 2009
2:50 pm

Tony C.

The Crosby Bubbles do not even have to be added to the flowchart. If you do not know the Crosby exemption exists you do not get hired by the league to begin with.

A2B

November 11th, 2009
2:51 pm

That chart is awesome… It really does sum up how the NHL solves problems… well is it really solving problems? Anyways, Kovy news is not good, but hopefully its just swelling that will go away and he didn’t aggrevate anything.

rightshot

November 11th, 2009
2:52 pm

First, I’m surprised no one heard me snoring in the back of the class. It was a late night Rawhide, not your fault.
Second, I think the Thrashers are playing 500 hockey until either coach sits someone for not doing their job or until someone seriously lights a fire under the teams collective a$$. They have the ability, they could be faster, stronger, better.
Finally, Can we eat in here or does that fall under the you have to bring enough for everyone catagory. If so, I’m ordering pizza. Who wants a slice?

Riceowls

November 11th, 2009
2:54 pm

who says Leafs fans don’t have a sense of humour?

Jeff

November 11th, 2009
2:59 pm

Hey guys,

Always reading your comments… You’re my Thrashers hockey source…

Little question for you… I read somewhere at the begining of the season that we would see lots of Thrashers game on TV… What happened there? We hardly have any? Can’t always get down to Philips Arena so it would be nice…

Let me know if I misread this back in September…thought I read 45 games would be on SPSO…

Alan R.

November 11th, 2009
3:06 pm

More games are televised after the “other sports” are no longer in season. It’s a shame, really, but it’s business I guess.

Sara

November 11th, 2009
3:07 pm

rightshot the blog eats in here all the time (hint, hint Trixie) – don’t see why you can’t.

LAC

November 11th, 2009
3:17 pm

Yes Mr.Bill, it is starting to head into the holiday season, Thanksgiving TWO weeks away, and NO contract news for several weeks.

That means it is 6 weeks away from , “We will not be talking about this at Christmas”, coming from the biggest FOOL to ever be involved in professional sports The Loser/Liar/Idiot/Dumb don waddell.

This IS starting to become a clear distraction to the fans for starters and likely a number of players…

I guess it proves yet again waddell cannot do anything right in the hockey world, so don, PLEASE go back to detroit and sell used cars,
you likely could not even do that very well either, because you are
without a doubt The Biggest Career LOSER ever in sports history, resign and let someone else sign #17 Ok “don” ? Do THE Right thing for once in your worthless life !

Miami Screaming Eagle

November 11th, 2009
3:23 pm

Alan R-I am beginning to believe Kovy is close to being a goner. Only governments take longer to negotiate deals. This is the longest contract negotiation in modern history and that’s not a good thing at all.

Just get something for him before the trading deadline, before he’s characterized as a rental player.

World Be Free

November 11th, 2009
3:29 pm

Chelios is a winner and you never have enough winners. He reminds me a lot of Tim Horton. Horton came back to Buffalo in the early 70’s to mentor a young Jim Schoenfeld. Jimbo was younger than Bogo at the time.

Not sure if many of you remember Horton, but guys like Horton and Chelios are the kind of players are leaders and teachers.

Intangibles.

Sara

November 11th, 2009
3:34 pm

Don isn’t the one dragging this process out, Kovy is and with good reason. The whole point for Kovy was to evaluate the direction of the team/management commitment. That’s a tad hard to do after 14 games – especially when they are flirting with the .500 mark. There’s potential for this to still go any which way – up, down, flat … they haven’t even played a quarter of the season yet. Too soon to tell, so no decision isn’t surprising or alarming. He still talks and acts like a man committed and that’s good enough for me for right now. I’m not intending to worry until at least Xmas.

Miami Screaming Eagle

November 11th, 2009
3:52 pm

Sara-
Sign the contract, what more evaluation do you need?
When does he make his decision?
Are these the Kovalchuk Thrashers or the Atlanta Thrashers?
When does management make the decision to move on and at least get something for him?

He’s supposed to be the captain and the leader.
Lead by making the long term commitment.

End of story.

fes

November 11th, 2009
3:55 pm

@ Jeff: This season they took a slightly different approach. Instead of not televising games down the stretch in the spring, they’re not televising many games in the first half of the season. We get lots of coverage after christmas for a change. I’ll take that.

Can I have the hall pass?

Sara

November 11th, 2009
4:33 pm

Miami Screaming Eagle – ummm, yeah, you might as well call them the Kovalchuk Thrashers I guess. Cause it’s his team and he’s the heart and soul of it. Waddell may talk semi-tough by saying they won’t let this drag out but I’ll call BS right now. They’d let Ilya go until next July to make up his mind … as long as it takes. Hell would just about have to freeze over for Waddell to trade away Kovy. Unless this team totally falls out of contention and/or Kovy makes it 100% clear he will never ever sign a contract here, he’s not going anywhere before this season ends.

buldog/52

November 11th, 2009
4:48 pm

Chelios will not be a thrasher. He is going to sign with another team. It will be after this weekend. In the NHL he will be good for about 10 minutes a game at the most. Not enough speed to play more. Has the speed to play AHL and look good.

Miami Screaming Eagle

November 11th, 2009
5:07 pm

Sara-then trade him, get something for him vs. getting Hossa type return for him at the trade deadline or letting him walk for nothing at the end of the year.

If he’s the leader and the soul as you say, then he needs to act like a leader. This has gone on too long.

Brendan

November 11th, 2009
5:19 pm

Sorry I’m late. I was tutoring in my office. With the blinds shut. What? It helps me concentrate. Moving right along …

Sad news about Kovy not playing, but truthfully, I didn’t expect him back for 4 weeks, so he’s still a little ahead of schedule for a potential return. Segue, did the team IMPLODE in Kovy’s absence? No, no it didn’t. It didn’t put together a huge points streak, either. But all things considered, 7-6-1 is a decent mark, given the “totality of our circumstances” in this young season. Bear in mind, in my opinion, we’ve rushed two prospects, Kane and Pavelec, into the lineup. And so far, they’re doing very well. So, in this respect, I suppose a nod of the cap to John Anderson and his coaching staff for evaluating the talent is in order. The test, of course, will be that Kane plays 80-82 games this year. This presupposes any kind of prolonged injury, which was my initial concern. Every other time we’ve rushed a prospect from the draft into the October lineup … they wound up hurt in their rookie year. Even Kovalchuk. Look it up.

By and large, I am pleased with Pavelec. But he is by no means “polished,” as Glovesave29 might say. Pavelec continues to be a work in progress. But what have I always said about him? “He’s going to be a very good NHL goalie in the future.” I also always say, “Goaltenders take 5 years, generally-speaking, to fully develop.” Which means? Well it means Pavelec shouldn’t be being asked to be our #1 goalie until the 2010-11 season. But for a guy pressed into service, ahead of schedule, he’s doing remarkably well, all things considered. And part of that consideration is that the Thrashers defense still isn’t fixed. We’re giving up too many shots. This very well might be the most talented corps of blueliners that we’ve ever had, but it’s not as if we have Stevens and Daneyko back there, with Rafalski as a #3 defender. But I understand that this is YEAR THREE of a four year building project.

Segue to Kovalchuk’s contract … the way to keep him … is to convince him to buy into the building project, while at the same time, promising him robust budgets for the future. In his shoes, I probably wouldn’t trust the Atlanta Spirit. Back when the cap was $39 million, they were eager and able to field a league max opening night budget. Even at a $44 million cap, they “eventually” brushed up against the limit. But with a cap at $56.8 million, that’s not easy to do. I think the Opening night budget was a hair north of $53 million, which included $3.1 million worth of Evander Kane’s bonus, plus paying off the bought out Zhitnik, and Pavelec and the bonuses in his contract. Not to mention Bryan Little’s, too. So, the Thrashers were at least “pretty close” to being within $3 million of the cap limit. Allegedly, supposedly, the cap will FINALLY DECREASE next year. I’ll believe it when I see it. But if you’re Kovy, and you’ve been offered a 5-year deal, you’ve got to think about what the salary cap will be in 2014-15. And let’s be honest, it might be around $70 million. That’s $13.2 million more than it is now. Will Atlanta’s budget, for 2014-15, really be $67 million, for “opening night???” Stop. The cap in 2005-06 was $39 million and it grew, 5-years later, to $56.8 million. Do the math. It grew $17.8 million, or nearly $18 million, in just 5-years. If the next 5 years experiences similar growth, it will represent a serious challenge for this, or ANY future Thrashers ownership, to field a maxed cap team. Kovy’s agent knows that $11.36 million is the most that he’s currently allowed to get, in terms of “cap hit.” That’s 20% of $56.8 million. That’s in the CBA. He can’t get more than that, lest he try for the KHL, in Russia. Which he won’t, in my opinion. Let it go. Movin’ on.

What can the Atlanta Spirit, LLC do … to assuage Kovy’s fears that they simply cannot AFFORD to field the team he wants, moving forward? Well, for starters, they could actually buy out Belkin, and replace him with a contributing partner, to ease cash-flow. They could liquidate more assets from their other business ventures to show that “money won’t be an object,” moving forward. They could promise to hold coaches and GM’s accountable for the standings and playoff results, at the end of the season. They could put a clause into Kovy’s contact that guarantees that he can “walk out the door” if the team is ever more than $3.5 million from WHATEVER the NHL salary cap limit is, in any given season.

Of course, they could also make trades and sign Tier I free agents in the offseason, etc. I think Kovy was pleased with Antropov, Kubina, and Afinogenov as offseason moves. Would he have also wanted Zherdev? Or Zherdev INSTEAD of Max? Shrugs. I don’t know. Kovy and I don’t speak. I couldn’t rightly tell you what he wanted. But I do know this. In 2008, Bruce Levenson had seen enough, after a stretch of 11-4-1 to hand Waddell a new contract. That’s just 16 games.

And how many games have we played so far? Let’s see 7-6-1 makes … 14 games. Was Bruce Levenson RIGHT to hand Waddell a brand, spanking NEW multi-year contract after 16 games? After firing the second coach he hired? Well, the answer is … that the team finished with 76-points, following a 97-point season in 2007. What do you think? And for the record, the words “Bruce Levenson” and “right” should never appear within 5 words of each other. Personally, I’m not worried yet. I think I understand what Kovy is trying to do. As a fan, I share concerns and frustrations about why the contract isn’t done yet. By my way of thinking, a 1-year deal should give him the time he needs to figure out if Atlanta is a JOKE Sage of Bluesland says it is … or if the Thrashers will, indeed, actually become a force in the NHL. A one-year deal obligates Kovy to this market until June 30, 2011. He’d be 27-ish. And still have his prime years well AHEAD of him, to nail down some 8-10 year deal, at the league maximum. Keep in mind, Kovy’s $11.36 million future contract will look like a “drop in the bucket” when 2014-15 rolls around, and the league max contract looks more like $14 million. It’ll be a BARGAIN!!

Red Light

November 11th, 2009
5:38 pm

Good thoughts Brendan. I don’t think it’s about the money as much as it is getting to choose your team and city, although somebody will pay him $9 to $10 million a year.

It’s a pattern that developed a long time ago. Once a player enters the final season of an existing contract, they rarely sign with the same team. For his part, Don and the Thrashers signed UFAs like Reasoner, Hedberg, Slater and Thorburn, but obviously lost out on big money UFAs like Savard and Hossa. He couldn’t or wouldn’t sign deVries, Hnidy, Sutton, Belanger, Sim, Recchi and Holik, but of course they were much different circumstances.

But, this is not just a Waddell problem, although it is a recurring theme for him, because most UFAs test the market as it is an unbelievable opportunity.

During the past few years, few “name” free agents re-sign before or during the last year of their contract. The Sedins, Connolly, A. McDonald and S. Sullivan did in 2009, but are hardly the same type of name that Kovy is. Langkow, Rozsival and Liles did so in 2008.

Of course, Kovy and his agent are balking. Wouldn’t you? The money and opportunity in the traditional markets are too tempting.

Briere got $52 million for 8 years; Hossa got $62.8 million for 12 years; Ovechkin got an in-season $124 million extension for 13 additional years, but the Caps still held his rights because he was still under the entry-level deal; Crosby extended his contract in the summer of 2007, a five-year $45 million contract, and Pittsburgh re-signed Malkin for $43.5 million, an extension of five years when he still had a year remaining on his entry-level deal; Lucic got $4.083 before his entry-level deal was up from Boston; and even Anaheim inked Perry and Getzlaf before their entry level deals were up too; same thing with Staal in Carolina.

The point being, in-season negotiations rarely work with unrestricted UFAs, particularly those playing in non-traditional hockey markets during the season. Sure, there are exceptions, but Kovy saw Hossa play in the Finals two years in a row, and if he wants to win as badly as he says, then the quickest way to do that is through free agency or a trade to a contender this spring.

And, if Waddell gets value in return for Kovy, we might just see him in the 2011 playoffs.