Thrashers pending UFAs – Sign ‘em or ship ‘em?

As I’m sure you all know, the Thrashers have a fair amount of pending unrestricted free agents on their roster. Given the fact that we are now in late January, the time is drawing near for the organization to decide whether to retain their services beyond this year…or to ship them off at the deadline.

And given that we have an Olympic break scheduled between now and the official trade deadline, chances are good that we could see teams pullin the trigger on deals in the next couple of weeks…as well as the first week of March.

Therefore, this weekend’s assignment for you is to review the list of those in Thrasherville whose current contracts expire this summer and are able to swim in the NHL UFA talent pool, then…acting as the team’s cyber-GM…let us know if you would attempt to re-sign the player or ship them off for something in return.

And with that, let us begin…

  • Sign Armstrong (36%, 76 Votes)
  • Ship Armstrong (64%, 138 Votes)

Total Voters: 214

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Colby Armstrong: Doesn’t seem too that ago we were welcoming this guy to town along with Erik Christensen, does it? Now, if he’s dealt away in the next few weeks, all we have to show for the trade that sent Marian Hossa and Pascal Dupuis to Pittsburgh two years ago will be a prospect playing at Michigan State, (Daultan Leveille selected with the Penguin’s 2008 draft pick), a prospect playing in the OHL, (Eric O’Dell who was acquired when Christensen was traded to Anaheim), a prospect who was playing with the Chicago Wolves before suffering his second ACL injury in as many years, (Angelo Esposito)…and whatever we get in return for Army.

Someone want to tell me again how Waddell procured the proverbial “king’s ransom” for Hossa?

Armstrong has 8 goals, 9 assists and is a +3 in 49 games played this season. His current contract pays him $2.4 million.

Rawhide’s take: He’s probably traded at the deadline, if not just before the Olympic break.

  • Sign Kubina (84%, 178 Votes)
  • Ship Kubina (16%, 35 Votes)

Total Voters: 213

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Pavel Kubina: Last summer, long-time Thrashers defenseman Garnet Exelby was traded to Toronto in exchange for Kubina…both players had one year left in their contracts and there were a couple of prospects also involved in the deal as well. It was, IMHO, one of the better transactions Don Waddell has made in his 11-plus years as the organization’s GM. Kubina has been a very solid, dependable blueliner for the team and his physical presence is something we’ve not had the pleasure of seeing in the parts too often. But, seeing that he’s going to be 33-years of age on April 15, the question for the team is whether or not a blueliner of that age would be of benefit given some of the prospects waiting in the wings.

Kubina has 5 goals, 20 assists and is a +8 in 49 games played this season. His current contract pays him $5 million.

Rawhide’s take: Tough call, however I wouldn’t mind seeing him back for another year…but at a considerably lower price.

  • Sign Hedberg (49%, 101 Votes)
  • Ship Hedberg (51%, 104 Votes)

Total Voters: 205

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Johan Hedberg: Ah yes…the Moose. He is as dependable a back-up goalie that any team could ask to have. He’s in his fourth season with the Thrashers and has a record of 46-39-11 while in Atlanta. On May 5, the Swede will turn 37-years of age and with the ultimate return of Kari Lehtonen the team will have three goalies in which to chose from. Is Pavelec returning to Chicago…or traded? If so, then we return to the Kari starter/Moose backing up role. Or, is it more likely that Anderson and Company have seen enough of Opie to at least let him remain to back up Lehtonen? The third option is putting the oft-injured Kari Lehtonen on the trade blocks…but if there’s one thing we’ve learned in 50 games so far this year…Opie isn’t just quite ready to carry the load full-time and Hedberg is a career backup for a reason.

One last note about Hedberg…he’s the only one of the three with a winning record since the beginning of the last season.

Hedberg is 10-8-3 with a .913 SV% and 2.60 GAA to go with one shutout. His current contract pays him just over $1 million.

Rawhide’s take: Given Pavelec’s better-than-thought showing this year, and Hedberg’s age, I think the days of the Moose are numbered in Thrasherville. But I’d love to see him remain as a goalie coach for the team.

  • Sign Afinogenov (84%, 179 Votes)
  • Ship Afinogenov (16%, 35 Votes)

Total Voters: 214

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Maxim Afinogenov: The $800,000 spent on Maxim Afinogenov has been money well spent, I believe. Last summer, after a disappointing end to his time in Buffalo, he came to training camp on a professional tryout and played his way onto the squad. Not too many people doubted his skating abilities or his talent potential…but the big question circling over Afinogenov was if he could actually finish plays as well as he started them. Well, let’s see… in 50 games so far he has ten more goals than he scored last season in 48 games and has six more than two seasons prior when he played in 56 games. His career-high in points…73 in 2005-06…could very well be matched this season. Oh, and he’s second in overall points with 42.

Again…he’s been well worth the short-term investment thus far. Question is, would he be worth keeping for another 2 or 3 years at a higher price?

Afinogenov has 16 goals, 26 assists and is a –8 having played in all 50 games. His current contract pays him $800,000

Rawhide’s take: I’d have him back in a heartbeat, but he may opt to test the free agent waters. This is especially true if one Mr. Ilya Kovalchuk isn’t around here nest season.

  • Sign Kozlov (11%, 22 Votes)
  • Ship Kozlov (89%, 184 Votes)

Total Voters: 206

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Slava Kozlov: First off, let me just say that Slava Kozlov is…and will always be considered…one of my all-time favorite Thrashers players. He has provided 6-1/2 seasons of quality service for the Thrashers since joining the team in 2002. Prior to the 2006-07 season, he agreed to remain in Atlanta for another three years. He’s a class act and nothing short of a professional. That be said…I just don’t see how the Thrashers can bring Kozlov back after this campaign. He will be 38-years old in May and his play has shown it this season. His –14 rating the second lowest on the team…Todd White is a –15.

I have long-since held the opinion that if the Thrashers do indeed re-sign Kovalchuk, Kozlov’s $3.6 million salary will simply be diverted to the captain’s ledger in order to pay for the raise.

Kozlov has 8 goals, 15 assists and is a –14 in 50 games played. His current salary pays him $3.67 million.

Rawhide’s take: After this season, I believe the next time we’ll see Slava Kozlov on the ice for the Thrashers is when he watches his #13 jersey raised to the rafters.

  • Sign Slater (82%, 169 Votes)
  • Ship Slater (18%, 36 Votes)

Total Voters: 205

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Jim Slater: The first round draft pick…30th overall…of the 2002 NHL entry draft has seen most of his playing time on the fourth line. However, he has been getting more and more time playing up…and this is a good thing. He is nothing but all out hustle and effort night in and night out. Since being the last off Schnide Island…well, besides Valabik who was injured for half the season…he’s made up for lost time, scoring four goals in his last nine games. He has nine points and is a +3 in that stretch of games dating back to the 5-2 loss in Pittsburgh two and a half weeks ago.

Slater has 5 goals, 3 assists and is a –2 in 29 games played. His current salary pays him $840,000.

Rawhide’s take: Yeah…sign him. This team needs as many players that give 110% every night that they can get.

  • Sign Boulton (77%, 155 Votes)
  • Ship Boulton (23%, 47 Votes)

Total Voters: 202

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Eric Boulton: Boulton is as close to an enforcer as they have. He’s not afraid to drop the gloves to protect a teammate…or simply infuse the team with some much-needed energy. The fourth-line winger was the 234th overall pick by the New York Rangers in 1994 and has been with the Thrashers since 2005. Prior to that he played 172 in four seasons with the Buffalo Sabres. By the time next season comes around, Bolts will turn 34-years of age…so that might be a small concern for some.

Slater has 2 goals, 6 assists and is a +1 in 42 games played. He also leads the team with 75 PIM. His current salary pays him $600,000.

Rawhide’s take: Unless there is a plan to replace his toughness…better keep him around.

  • Sign Popovic (38%, 73 Votes)
  • Ship Popovic (62%, 118 Votes)

Total Voters: 191

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Mark Popovic: Popovic is in his second tour in Thrasherville after playing 44 games here between 2005 and 2008. He was invited into training camp last summer where he impressed the coaching staff enough to make the team. Pops is currently on IR nursing an injured foot and hasn’t played since the 5-2 loss in Toronto back on December 7. He’ll be 28-years old next October.

Interesting little stat here…the Thrashers are 11-4-2 in the 17 games Popovic has started and 11-17-5 without him out of the lineup. You can make of that what you will.

Popovic has 2 goals, 1 assist and is a –4 in 17 games played. His salary currently salary pays him $600,000.

Rawhide’s take: Eh…I can go either way with this one. But his return could depend on where certain prospects are in their development.

  • Sign Schubert (79%, 154 Votes)
  • Ship Schubert (21%, 40 Votes)

Total Voters: 194

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Christoph Schubert: The Thrashers picked up Schubert when Ottawa was trying to slip him through waivers and has recently been placed on IR with a lower body injury. The 6’-3”, 230-pound German does seem to fit in well with Anderson’s system as he’s a defender who loves to join in the attack. In fact, if need be, Schubert can fill in on the wing. Like Kubina, his physical size makes him a presence the Thrashers have lacked for so long…and when he uses it to his advantage, it’s a very good thing. Personally, I’ve liked the pairing of Schubert with Boris Valabik. His attacking play allows Boris to remain back and concentrate solely on defense. The big problem with Schubie is the untimely penalties as he has raked up 63 PIM in the 44 games played so far.

Schubert has 2 goals, 5 assists and is a –7 in 44 games played. His current salary pays him $441,667.

Rawhide’s take: I’d like to see him back for another season or so.

  • Sign Kovalchuk (64%, 139 Votes)
  • Ship Kovalchuk (36%, 79 Votes)

Total Voters: 218

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Ilya Kovalchuk: Yeah…I saved this one for last. Look, we’ve discussed this one ad nausea. He’s the team captain, leading scorer and the current face of the franchise. To listen to Waddell and Kovalchuk, talks are still ongoing and both parties are continuing to strive towards a deal that will keep the prolific scorer in Atlanta for years to come. He was the overall number one pick in 2001, became team captain a year ago and the Thrashers have stated to Kovy that this team is to built around him. Could he get his money elsewhere? Oh sure…that’s never been a question. Could he even wear a ‘C’ for another team? I’m sure that is possible. But where else is he going to go in which the team was “his”? I don’t know if that’s going to happen outside of Thrasherville.

However, as long as professional players are compensated at such high rates, superstar franchise players of all sports will move from team to team. If Kovalchuk does…he won’t be the first and he won’t be the last. Also, many feel that since he hasn’t signed already, then he’s as good as gone…and as such, the team needs to move forward with shipping him out seeing that they can ask for a “king’s ransom”.

A “king’s ransom”? Hey wait a second…haven’t we seen this movie before?

Kovalchuk has 30 goals, 26 assists and is a +2. His current contract pays him just shy of $6.4 million.

Rawhide’s take: I still believe the best outcome to the Kovy contract talks is that he’ll re-sign here. But if the rumored reports are true that he isn’t coming off his demand for max-dollar, (appx. $11.3 per season), then I would suspect he’s gone.

I just hope that in seeking the “king’s ransom”, Don Waddell doesn’t wind up looking like the court jester.

And finally…there are three others on the payroll scheduled to be UFAs. Steve McCarthy, Josh Gratton and Noah Welch. You may opine as to their status as well.

128 comments Add your comment


January 23rd, 2010
7:49 am

First, just because I wanted to catch Stroz sleeping.


January 23rd, 2010
8:07 am

I will now turn my money and support over to the White Basketball League. Hopefully they will bring back those short-shorts and lower the goal to 8 and 1/2 feet.

R. Stroz

January 23rd, 2010
8:19 am

It’s Saturday, no blogs should be posted before 8:00 AM.


January 23rd, 2010
8:52 am

Neat blog Bill, You ARE THE BEST !

Tonight I say TB 6 Atl 2. More coasting and NO defense.

You should watch anderson’s press confrence following the Carolina debacle, He blamed the defense for the first Stall goal, said we just stood there, WOW !!! But he would not call out specific players like creampuff zach b. How in the WORLD that punk stays in the NHL is beyond belief, He needs to the FIRST one traded !

Red Light

January 23rd, 2010
9:04 am

Armstrong: Too slow and inconsistent, deal him
Kozzie: Re-sign for $1.5 million or less, he doesn’t want to leave Atlanta ever and might take it. Worth that for PP and shoot-outs
Kubina: Deal him
Kovy: Deal him
Afinogenov: classic Oct & Nov player. 5 goals and 12 assists since Dec. 1. Disappears most seasons in March and April. Look it up! Great value for $800k, but doubt he’ll sign for that again. Deal him.
Schubert: Deal him

Any others making under $1 million, you keep for now, unless any Chicago players are ready for call-up.

It’s time to emphasize a true youth movement centered around the kids who are playing every night. Only NHL team to win a Cup with a European captain was Detroit with Lidstrom. Need a North American captain, preferably a Canadian who is well respected.Maybe Pevs because of his effort.

House cleaning and time for a new five-year plan with someone else calling the shots.

James Brown

January 23rd, 2010
9:07 am

LAC………..All us old guys are always up early huh? If Kovy is shipped out…………………that will be the domino that starts a major fire sale! DW`s job may the last domino to fall when all is said and done…………Do what we have to do to bring in Cliff Fletcher and David Poile to run the franchise………..they know how to build a winner in Atlanta!

Putting On The Foil

January 23rd, 2010
9:21 am

Rawhide. How you muster the strength to continue writing these great blogs after watching games like Thursday’s is beyond me. Personally, I just would just wanna holler to fire somebody and then drink heavily. Agree with all your assessments of the free agents. Kubina has got to come cheaper.


January 23rd, 2010
9:25 am

that will be the domino that starts a major fire sale! DW`s job may the last domino to fall when all is said and done

James Brown – I hear what you’re sayin’…but IMHO, if there is going to be such a “fire sale” then DW should be the first to go. If we have to start over again, let’s begin there.

BTW, did you see the photos Trixie posted last night?

House cleaning and time for a new five-year plan with someone else calling the shots

Red Light – If the Thrashers do not put together a strong run between now that the Olympic break, I fear you may be right. It would sucks too…having to start all over after 10 years and nothing really to show for it.

Personally, I just would just wanna holler to fire somebody and then drink heavily



January 23rd, 2010
9:28 am

Still BLOWS MY MIND that anyone would still want to absolutely kill this franchise by paying $11 mil a year for Kovy! How many one-dimensional athletes are the highest paid in their respected sports? NONE! So just for the sake of keeping him around,and “saving the face of the Thrashers”, lets look forward to a future with a team built around an overpaid shooter, causing us to have to let all our talented young players walk when it comes time to re-up. This will go on year after year. Yea! Great plan!

The Joker

January 23rd, 2010
9:55 am

I just hope that in seeking the “king’s ransom”, Don Waddell doesn’t wind up looking like the court jester.

Well sir, I take exception to your remarks. From a long lineage of court jesters, we had to perform well, or, off with our heads.

You see sir, there is ACCOUNTABILITY to being a court jester, none so as a Thrasher GM.

To paraphrase, court jesters must rely on their wit, whereas Waddell relies on bull$h!t.


January 23rd, 2010
9:56 am

Good News, Lehtonen on his way down to chicago, supposed to play next game, may be back up here in 1-2 weeks

World Be Free

January 23rd, 2010
10:01 am

Funny how everyone fell off the Max bandwagon, now that Max has returned to being Max. The Max freight train from October and November has slowed to one of those little choo-choo’s you see at a kid’s fair. Now you wonder why Buffalo kept him so long.

61, which in itself should be reserved for Roger Maris, a classy guy that never had to take roids to be a champ. He just had to hit after my all time idiot, Micky Mantle.

Keep Kubina and Schubert; Schubie leads the team in hits and that’s good enough for me.
Colby who? He’s the guy that should be on the carton.

And finaly, keep Jimmy caused he’s earned it. Jim Slater is the good news from this season, he’s upped his game. See what happens when you put a guy in the press box? If he’s any good and has any pride, he’ll get the message.

R. Stroz

January 23rd, 2010
10:10 am

WBF – I’m not off the Max wagon yet. Max needs to be on a line with either Peverley and Little/Slater.

Although I enjoy the scoring potential of Kovy and Max on the same line, the defensive liability is too high. The scary part is when Kovy and Max are on the same line, Max is the more defensive minded of the two.


January 23rd, 2010
10:13 am

Overall, I agree with your talent assessment. The only quibble I have is about “raising Slava’s #13 to the rafters”. Don’t get me wrong; I’ve been a fan of Slava’s; even when he played for the (much hated) Red Wings. I disagree that his play has been worthy of having his number retired. He’s been a good consistent player for years, but hasn’t “put up the numbers” to get that kind of treatment.

As far as the rest, there are players I like and players I don’t like so much. If we lost/dealt Colby, Kubina, et al; I’d be disappointed but we could replace them (with equivalent talent) in free agency. As other people have pointed out about Kubina, for example, it’s all about getting them at the right price.

However, the only one that is “special” (as I’m sure his mother tells him) on the list is Kovy. If you want to build a championship, you don’t deal away your difference-maker. If you want to sell tickets, you don’t get rid of your gate attraction. He needs to be signed. Period.

And of course, this assumes we’re not going to make the playoffs, which as the season progresses, seems to be the more likely outcome.

R. Stroz

January 23rd, 2010
10:15 am

Tom – I wasn’t sleeping. I was Waddelling on the job.

James Brown

January 23rd, 2010
10:21 am

Pics look great Rawhide……thanks………the girls got a kick out of that.

Its amazing what happens when ownership demands accountability from management. Case and point would be in Colorado and Philadelphia…………..They make coaching and personnel changes when they need to be done.
Snider didn`t think twice about putting the ax to ex-Flyer great turned GM Bobby Clarke when things got stale…………..same with Ken Hitchcock who arguably was a better coach and teacher than anybody that coached the Thrashers.

Waddell and the Thrashers have the luxury of flying under the radar here in Atlanta until about this time of year………… is the time the fans and the media need to light a big fire up under the Spirit,Waddell and Anderson and demand results…………Brendan posted something 3-4 years ago that Curt Fraser had “minor league” written all over him…………..well I say the same thing about John Anderson………….pathetic situation……….no fire!!!

World Be Free

January 23rd, 2010
10:22 am

All I want is a hockey team that will work hard. I support keeping Schubert because he hits and he’s not a bad player. Keep Boulton and Thorny because they keep the other teams honest. I’ll keep any play that drops the gloves.

This team needs to get back to working hard, like they did at the end of last season. We were all pretty jazzed about the end of last year when the Thrashers outworked potential playoff teams. These guys aren’t outworking anyone right now.

Your team needs to gain the reputation of a team that nobody else wants to play. Look at Ottawa; half their team is hurt and they are in 2nd place in the East because they work hard. I don’t care how flashy and talented your team is; if they don’t work hard the team will never win consistently enough to make the playoffs. It’s that simple.

World Be Free

January 23rd, 2010
10:24 am

Stroz-Max is the second coming of Miko Makela, the ex-Islander, King and Sabre who would take “vacations” during games. Which is why Miko earned the nickname “The European Vacation”.

Max has a tendency to call his travel agent in the middle of games.


January 23rd, 2010
10:31 am

Agree with most that Kovy is not worth anything near max. so it is likely that he will be traded. Kubina is OK but not at his current salary. He’ll probably go. Armstrong is one of the slowest forwards in the NHL and is not worth $3 mil. He goes. Even with Kozzy’s current “sabbatical”, I thin that he has a $1-2 mil worth as a third liner and shotout specialist. I love Slater’s hustle but he has not hands around the net. Still like him for energy. Others no. How about Lets? Isn’t he a UFA this summer? If he gets healthy and many goalies don’t really hit their prime until the late 20s, I’d favor trying to keep him. this is an interesting exercise since it forces everyone to do a little cost/benefit analysis on the current crop.

R. Stroz

January 23rd, 2010
10:34 am

Your team needs to gain the reputation of a team that nobody else wants to play.

WBF – Like the Atlanta Flames? Bygones.


January 23rd, 2010
10:35 am

How about Lets? Isn’t he a UFA this summer?

Jimbo – Kari is an RFA again this summer given his age and years of service as of July 1, 2010.

R. Stroz

January 23rd, 2010
10:41 am

I’d rather have Colin Stuart than Colby Armstrong.

James Brown

January 23rd, 2010
10:43 am

WBF……………Nobody wanted to play the Flames or anybody else in the Patrick Division back in the day……….that was one tough group of teams.


January 23rd, 2010
10:45 am

Rawhide another good blog. K-overrated…I still don’t understand how paying him his money kills a dead franchise. Put yourself in his shoes. So this was DW’s big effort to put together a playoff team and they aren’t going to make the playoffs…AGAIN. If I where in Kovy’s place I would want MAX money also because they aren’t going to spend that money to make the team better. Besides if we have so much young talent to “let walk” why aren’t they here playing for us.

This whole franchise has been nothing but “young supposed talent” and the reason they have “walked had nothing to do with Kovy…it had to do with DW…and DW alone…why because he can’t put together a team worth playing for. For that matter our “old” talent has walked for the same reason. We offer Campbell more money and he signed with Chicago, offered Hossa enough money and he said Hell No!! Heatly well he was just a punk kid. Oh yeah how about Ka-Chuck going back to St Louis…why because he knew we wheren’t going to do the right things here and it wasn’t worth up rooting his family for.

Sooooo…I don’t blame Kovy AT ALL. He has carried this sorry franchise for almost ten years. He has been the only player worth watching for almost ten years…his he the best player in the NHL no, does he “snowbird’ sure, but what about this franchise is worth sticking your neck out for??

Oh yeah and please bench Kozzy!!! and bring up some of this young talent K-O-rated is referring to oh wait there isn’t any!!


January 23rd, 2010
11:12 am

After this last effort Thursday night against a Canes team playing for nothing, it finally hit me that this season’s excitement after a 14-7-3 start was a mere pipe dream and the franchise is very close to having to start all over again. It’s really sad as I think of the hope at the start of the season and all the positive comments coming out of the Kovvy camp and the Waddell camp about getting a deal done. As much as many of you have come out and said we can’t pay so much for a one-way player, I bet once he determines where his home is going to be for the next x years — and if it’s on a decent team – you will see the effort on the D-end upped considerably. I’m not saying that he will be a mad hitter and great at digging out pucks along the boards, but it’s pretty clear that right now, he’s trying to avoid an injury to sign a big contract and wants to stay healthy for the Olympics.

Someone above posted about Ottawa’s hard work and recent winning streak. This is the team we decimated a couple weeks back and they looked awful – I thought they would be out of the playoff picture by now and instead, they are catching up to Pittsburgh in the standings for 4th place and a home playoff series. It starts to point to the coaching staff. Why can’t a bunch of guys who should be hungrier than any in the league for the playoffs continue to put forth such a weak effort, especially at home? I know the crowds have been sparse, but the crowds won’t come when we are continually fighting back from deficits. I mean, we have scored 1st in only 19 of 50 games or so? It’s the classic chicken and egg.

Anyway, thanks Rawhide for your enthusiam for the blog. It’s been painful to read it lately as things have continued to get more desperate. Remember, this is the team that finished 12-6 last year WITHOUT Kubina or Max or Antropov (our best +/- player). We have 2 regulation wins since November. Let that soak in. 2…since November.


January 23rd, 2010
11:13 am

Anybody else see the top ten highlights on ESPN today? #1 is a beautiful Vinny Sapponari goal.

Red Light

January 23rd, 2010
11:20 am

I think odds are stacked squarely against anyt kind of run, Rawhide. Had they beaten Carolina, it might have been a little different. The Thrashers are like many other Eastern Conference teams, inconsistent. It might be a result of the cap but more likely poor personnel management. Gainey was reputed to be some sort of genius and look at was has happened there. Holmgren in Philly, nice goaltending. Sather in NY, nice signing of Redden and Rozsival for $11 million plus. $10 million for Kovalev for two seasons in Ottawa by Bryan Murray???

After the top four teams, right now, it appears only Garth Snow on the Island has a clue of what’s going on. Long been a fan of Regier, Shero, McPhee and Lou in terms of talent evaluations, but all other teams are either re-tooling or grasping at straws at this point.

I think the likelihood of a playoff run in Atlanta will only happen with a key addition or three! Seven road games and three home between now and the break. All are against teams above them or in the same desperate situation.


January 23rd, 2010
11:28 am

Docsbro, I agree with you about DW and the makeup and culture of the team. Bogo and Kane would have a much better chance to develop on another team, with older players that give a crap. And I’m not blaming the problems of this franchise on Kovy. He will be a good piece, as a sniper, on another, more physical team. He can’t carry a team on his shoulders by himself. Can’t play defense, can’t hit, does’nt even like to be within 10 feet of the net. So why sign him for $11mil? Huge difference between $9mil that Ovetchkin gets and the $11 mil he’s asking for. That’s $2mil that can be put toward signing other players, or keeping draft picks. It is all a moot point anyway- he’s gone. He’ll play as a rental for the rest of the season and then go play KHL. Other GM’s in the NHL have said there is no way anybody here pays $11mil for him next year.

World Be Free

January 23rd, 2010
11:29 am

Stroz and James-as a sabres fan inthe 70’s, I hated playing the Flames. They had guys that would work hard, hit and beat you in 3-2 games.

ThrasherTim-hockey is one of the few sports where you can be successful in just by working harder than the other team. You need the right motivator, a great captain, the right system and an internal motor.

Ottawa is the perfect example-Daniel Alfredsson


January 23rd, 2010
11:48 am

One of the most exasperating things, for me, personally, as a fan of this team … is the attitude of the ownership. I mean, after all, it’s THEIR money! You’d think … that they’d want playoff revenue. They’d DEMAND it. Instead, they’re quite content to field league minimum payrolls, coupled with revenue-sharing dollars, to prop up the franchise and “break even.” And all they ask of the GM is this, “Just keep us within striking distance of a playoff berth in February. So that we can maintain the APPEARANCE of doing something right … to our fanbase … to help sell tickets.”

Uhh, nice try, guys. I think even the least among us … has figured out what you’re all about. Even if the great Scotty Bowman were our GM, responsible ownership would have to let him go, over these results. And he’s a 1st ballot Hall of Famer. It’s called “accountability.” I think it’s rather lame and pathetic that … in the search for a qualified GM … the best thing the Thrashers have to offer … is LONGEVITY at the post for the encumbent.


January 23rd, 2010
11:49 am

Gee Rawhide, talk about ruining my weekend with a depressing blog! I count on the Thrashers to do that when I get to relaxed and happy.

When you start to examine the UFA situation in light of the potential of losing Kovy, the picture really starts to look bleak. Considering the domino effect Kovy’s signing may have on certain players, the idea of losing him makes ot seem extra scary.

However, other than Kozzy, Max and probably Army due to his strong family ties up North, I don’t see any reason why we can’t get the others back. But the only ones I would want are Kubina, Schubes (as a 7th d-man), Slater and perhaps Boulton since he comes so cheap anyway.

Kubes knows he’s winding down his career and may “settle” for an extra year over an extra mill. 3 yrs at right around $4.25 seems fair. But that is risky considering Hainsey is playing like a 2nd pairing d-man at best with the same contract. Zach is having some serious growing pains, but should be fine. We may be better off going after a more moderately priced North Anerican vet to better mentor Bogosian?

But none of this really matters unless Waddell is fired and Dudley is allowed to do the grocery shopping. Even if DW has a hand in the Kovy trade, he should still be fired to set the tone for the new regime and instill some much-lacking accountability to this ailing franchise.

James Brown

January 23rd, 2010
11:51 am

Who would be the GM canidate thats available if DW is let go? Dudley is in house so that`s a possibilty but I would rather see a fresh start.


January 23rd, 2010
11:56 am

I think odds are stacked squarely against anyt kind of run, Rawhide.

Red Light – I completely agree. As I opined over at HockeyBuzz… after the loss to the ‘Canes, the Thrashers are 22-21-7 with 51 points. My personal benchmark is 94 points for a team to make the playoffs To get to 94 points, the Thrashers need 43 more over the last 32 games…say going 21-10-1.

That would be a points winning percentage of .672.

Even if 92 points might get a team into post-season this spring, that would mean the Thrashers would have to play to a record of something like 20-11-1 the rest of the way…a .641 PW%.

That means the rest of the way the Thrashers would have to play at roughly the same level as the Colorado Avalanche, who are currently playing at a .640 PW% clip.

The term I use for the probability of that happening is…notgonnahappennowayinhell.


January 23rd, 2010
12:11 pm

I always like the posts made by Red Light and WBF. Great job, today, guys. And Rawhide, we’re not worthy! We’re NOT worthy. This is an awesome blog topic. If you’ll allow a transgression, I’d like to add a discussion to the pending RFAs, like Kari Lehtonen, Bryan Little, Brett Sterling, and Ondrej Pavelec. I’d re-sign all of them. Sterling stays in the minors, two-year deal, two-way contract. NHL salary is the league minimum. If some team shows interest in Sterling at the deadline, he’s your “sweetener.” Lehtonen gets a one-year deal only, at $2.5 million. Take it or be traded. Lehtonen has done nothing to deserve more. Pavelec, I’d re-sign him for two more years, or up to his remaining RFA years, at RFA pricing. We’ll know what that is by the end of the season, when we can compare him to similarly aged netminders, with similar NHL experince. Then make a RESPONSIBLE contract to him. Pavelec and Lehtonen, both must get qualifying offers, if they’re still here in June. Or we lose their rights. Which would be bad. Bryan Little? I, personally, think he’s been miscast this season, because of the arrival of Nik Antropov to be Kovy’s center. A clear “appeasement” move by Waddell, to urge a new Kovalchuk contract. Little is a natural Center. He’s one of the best centers on our roster; he’s just having a ‘down year,’ or Sophomore slump. Whatever you want to call it. I see Little’s contract, believe it or not, as an opportunity to lock him up, LONGTERM, at a huge discount. I’m talking about dipping into his UFA years, folks. Maybe I’m thinking crazy, now. But I like 8 years/$32 million, for a cap hit of $4 million, that would pay him well past his UFA eligibility years, at 26, to the age of 29 or 30. I think the kid’s got skills. He’s just having a bad season, miscast in his current role. He potted 31 goals last year. I think he can get back to those numbers, as a CENTER, with real linemates around him.

As for the UFA minor leaguers, re-sign ‘em all. McCarthy, Gratton, Welch. Minor leaguers don’t cost anything, and when they get called up, they’re league minimum contracts. Here’s my PLEA: Don’t give away the STORE at the deadline!!! Give the NEXT GM a fighting chance to evaluate our prospects and decide what is best. Guys like Kulda, Kaip, Machacek, Grant Lewis, Holzapfel, LaVallee (is he still around?), Niclas Lasu, Zach Redmond … Postma, Leveille, Esposito, Klingberg, … Oysterick, Lehman, Kozek, Pospisil, etc. You gotta keep ‘em, and DEVELOP ‘EM. That’s why you drafted them. For once, can we AT LEAST TRY to get something right???? You want to trade a prospect? Trade Dan Turple or Chad Denny. Or Will O’Neill.


January 23rd, 2010
12:13 pm

Is this team, on paper, better than last year? You’d have to say yes. When this group of guys goes out and plays 60 minutes of hockey they’re a top 5 team in the conference. But the team out there now might play 30-40 minutes at best. Teams can’t play hard at the beginning and end of the season and expect to make the playoffs. The best they can hope for is squeak into the 8th spot. The team has no hustle right now and the play on ice comes down to coaching and the captain. Obviously Anderson doesn’t have control of this team right now and when your captian spends half of his shifts skating figure eights north of the circles where does your motivation come from. I keep waiting for Kovy to do a triple lutz back there…

There is no way Kovy is worth anything more than 7.5 mil and I think that is still over paying. He’s an offensive specialist and should be compensated as such. I figure $100-125k per average goals scored over the last 3-4 seasons. At the high end of 125k that puts him right about where he’s at now if you include this seasons projected 56 goal pace.
Now if he were a solid two way player I could see giving him a half to a full million more the Ovie but he’s hasn’t shown that he can play two way hockey for more than 15 to 20 game a season. Look people there is noway that Kovy gets league max from any other team in the league his only shot at that kind of money is right here fleecing DWadd & the AS buffoons and I can’t say that I blame him for trying. But when you see it’s not going to happen and you really want to stay don’t you think it’s time to take a step back and say where can we meet to get this behind us? So the question is does he really want to stay?

They should tell him this is our offer you have to the end of the month to take it or we’re trading you. But Dwadd is trying to save his job so that will never happen. If there were any accountability with the “Lack of Spirit” group they would tell the Wadd he has till Feb 1 to make the deal happen for the right money or you’re out of here. At which point turn the reins over to Dudley and let him try to right the ship.


January 23rd, 2010
12:25 pm

Adam, I always enjoy your posts, too. I think Waddell’s job is safe. The word “accountability” isn’t in their dictionary, over at the offices of the Atlanta Spirit, LLC. I know. I snuck in once and checked. Other missing words were “judgement,” “player retention,” “development,” and “tact.”

World Be Free

January 23rd, 2010
12:26 pm

five_hole-not sure how good Slava’s English is-if we raise is jersey to the rafters, his acceptance speech may be in Russian!

Brendan-you offer more detail and research than anyone else on this blog. So I am honored to know you read my stuff as well. You wonder why ownership does not demand the maximum bang for their buck. They act like they own the Braves or something.

The kids you mentioned need to have a chance to play with the big club. The time is now!

James-I’d take Dudley as a player right now. You NEVER had to motivate Duds, ever. I am on an old school kick today. I want players that work hard, guys that know the difference between pain and injury.

Sorry about not making it to TJ’s. Family obligations tonight.

Miami Screaming Eagle

January 23rd, 2010
12:50 pm

The simple fact that Don Waddell is still GM here is totally mind-boggling. You could offer 100 reasons why the guy should be gone and I would give you 100 more to support the decision. Why the heck has he lasted this long is one of the great miracles of pro sports over the last 25 years.

His draft picks have been horrible, his UFA signings questionable and his selection of coaches totally abysmal. That’s the hockey end of the situation and the hockey end directly relates to the business end. Why? Because we as hockey fans are not idiots. Hockey fans in Atlanta can tell the difference between a turd and fillet mignon. The franchise has smelled like a turd since day one.

Finally, the Kovy situation. No player should be allowed to dictate the terms of their staying with or leaving a team. When Kovy claimed he wanted to wait and see, the team should have said “make a decision now”. If he did not want to stay, then he should have been dealt within 2 weeks, when as a player, he had full value. Now he is a rental, with competitive teams knowing they cannot match his contract demands. Yet, this GM still has a job. I want to meet the guys from ASG and sell some swampland disguised as prime beachfront property.

Unbelievable, totally unbelievable.


January 23rd, 2010
12:56 pm

Rawhide, I never addressed the UFA’s. But, in the interest of speaking to potentially NEW fans/readers, or those unacquainted with hockey, I want to present a “simplistic version” of the blog topic. So, here goes. First of all, I think we have to ask the question, “What does unrestricted free agency mean?” And what should it mean, for teams, specifically, our team. Here goes, then I’d delve into the actual players later on.

Unrestricted free agency means that the player, come July 1, 2010, at 12 noon, is FREE to pursue contractual options with ANY TEAM in the NHL. He is also FREE to pursue contracts in European leagues, like the KHL, which doesn’t have a salary cap. (At least, I don’t think so.)

Okay, “What does unrestricted free agency mean for NHL teams?” Well, it means that teams (GM’s) are FREE to GO SHOPPING for players to improve their respective clubs. It’s also an opportunity for GM’s and owners to really make some BAD, CRIPPLING choices. Let me explain. Players who reach UFA status, always get PAID MORE than those who are restricted, or perhaps, are already under contract. There is this natual tendency to overpursue a coveted player, consequently driving up the cost of his service (contract). Classic examples are Scott Gomez, Chris Drury, Brian Campbell, Daniel Briere, etc. The contract is crippling, not only in terms of salary, but in terms of YEARS of COMMITMENT to pay him at that inflated price.

“What SHOULD unrestricted free agency mean for NHL teams? Well, in my view, it represents the opportunity to ‘tweak’ your club’s roster, NOT OVERHAUL IT, at Sak’s 5th Avenue prices.” A GOOD GM identifies a SPECIFIC NEED, say a “2nd tier (3-4)” defender, or a depth center, or a goaltender, etc., and lands that player at a responsible wage. Or, in the case of Tier I player, “at the price that the market will bear.” If the GM’s needs are of the “Tier I” variety, he’ll have to PAY THROUGH THE NOSE for it. And hope he was “right” to pay it.

“What does unrestricted free agency mean to the Thrashers?” Well, it means that they’re FREE to shop. They have cap room. They’ll be able to present some attractive contracts to several players. But, part of the issues and consequences of poorly running your team, with no accountability, are … that Unrestricted Free Agents DON’T WANT TO PLAY for your team. The UFA players want to go play for winning franchises. UFA players “choose” their next team. The decision is entirely theirs, as to which offers they’ll accept for their services. If the UFA player isn’t all that good, he may not be able to be “so choosy.” He’ll just have to take whatever offer he gets. Segue to the Thrashers, if Don Waddell or whomever is the GM, wants to target some other team’s rejects, (think Eric Perrin, Ken Klee, Steve Rucchin, etc.,) he’ll be able to jump all over the next Todd White that hits the market. The Waddell approach is to extend the years at a lower cap hit. Todd White’s contract is a perpect example of this. Todd White wanted a 3-year deal in unrestricted free agency. Atlanta offered FOUR (4) years, at a lower wage that what White was probably seeking. I suspect White wanted 3-years/$8.5 to $8.75 million. Todd White is/was a Tier II type player. He’s just a “depth” player, at center. Waddell’s offer of 4-years/$9.5 million, for a cap hit of $2.375 million, was ultimatley ACCEPTED by White. White saw the ADDED YEAR as “job security.” So, he signed it. Atlanta’s GM got what he wanted. A depth center, locked up, at a fair wage. Todd White actually had a CAREER-BEST season in 2008-09. His trade value, last summer, was fairly high. Moose Hedberg, by contract, had a very low TRADE VALUE for last year’s DRAFT. But this year, his elevated play, may fetch substantively MORE than some ‘throw-away’ 7th round draft pick. Some team that’s “thin” in net, just may come-a-callin’ for Johan Hedberg at the deadline. DW would do well to give Moose a chance at playing some playoff minutes this year. But in DW’s mind, those playoff minutes would be played at Philips Arena, in downtown Atlanta, GA.

Okay … next post will address the players.


January 23rd, 2010
1:06 pm

Chalk up another loss tonite as Nittymaki gets the nod in net tonite!! His GAA over 15 games against us is 1.98…are you serious?? Then again, his defense isn’t as good as it used to be in Philly. But alas, Carolina’s D is / was a shell of what they were a year ago and years past.

‘Ning 4 – Atlanta 2 (3 if we’re lucky enough to get 20 mins of effort from Kovalchuk)


January 23rd, 2010
1:07 pm

Colby=ship him. He had one good year for us but this year he is not contributing a whole lot.
Kubina=This guy is a stud. Hopefully Waddell will try to re-sign him.
Hedberg=If Kari is healthy and be ready to play next and NOT get hurt, then I like the tandem of Kari/Pavelec.
Max=Definately re-sign. He’s the second leading goal scorer behind Kovy. To resign him is a no brainer.
Kozlov=Sorry I love the guy to but he needs to hang them up.
Slater=I don’t know about this one. His speed and work ethic gives him value even if a little bit.
Boulton=Ya we should keep him. Tough guy that brings a little more than just fighting.
Popovic=Nah let him go. Guys like Kulda are probably NHL ready. It’s time to give them a shot.
Schurbert=I wouldn’t mind seeing him back in blue. Ya he sometimes takes over physical penalties but I’d rather see some more punishment given out from our blueline than mamby pamby soft play.
Kovy=Keep this guy a Thrasher forever. It’s a no brainer. Thrashers will not being to find someone else who can score like he does or turn the game around like Kovy can. We lose Kovy we lose about 40 goals a year plus goals for other players his play helps create.


January 23rd, 2010
1:08 pm

WBF, any time. Your posts are substantive reads.


January 23rd, 2010
1:20 pm

James, I remember seeing Flyer great Bobby Clarke, say thi about Atlanta. We were the toughest team in the NHL at the time, but one team ALWAYS carved us up, The Atlanta Flames, they were as tough or tougher and we did NOT like playing Atlanta.

Don’t we ALL wish it was like that today ? When you have a REAL Professional GM, who knows the game and players it makes for a quality team, with this crap we have now they are no better than an ECHL team.

I agree, why after ten FAILED years is worthless waddell still here, can’t these IDIOT owners look at the track recond ?

I wonder if they can ever read !


January 23rd, 2010
1:22 pm

Barry, here is one, zach b. TRADE his, cost us a goal against the last three games, worthless and shows no grit for a kid his age, look at Meyers in Buffalo and the Downey kid in LA, light years ahead of littl boy zach, and about the same age. I’d rather have Meyers than Kane at this point.

But this zach b. has got to go, he will never be anything except a journeyman defenseman playing for many many teams and not doing very
much in the grand scheme of things.


January 23rd, 2010
1:42 pm

With the above post in mind, here goes on the UFA player lists.

Colby Armstrong: Does he even WANT to stay????? Uhh, that’s a relevant question. I think the answer is, “no.” If he really did want to stay, he could have DEMANDED the salary he wanted as an RFA. As in, “I will forego my UFA eligibility, if you OFFER ME what I’d like to be paid in UFA dollars.” DW is not so stupid … that he doesn’t understand what that request means. He could have signed Colby to some 4-year/$11 million deal. Neither party cared to pursue that option. Bygones. I wish Colby Armstrong the very best. He got TRADED here, and AGREED to RE-SIGN for his remaining RFA year in Atlanta. He was a good sport about everything. But I doubt his heart truly lies in Atlanta. Trade him someplace good, Don! You owe him that. He could have taken you to arbitration last year, and forced his way out. And ya know it.

Kubina: I love this guy. But he’s almost 33. And that’s NOT the direction we want to go, UNLESS he’s willing to re-sign at a one-year deal. If you’re Pavel Kubina, WHY ON EARTH … would you sign a one-year deal?? Okay, if the Red Wings offer a one-year deal, you take it. But realistically, Pavel Kubina is looking for a “retirement” contract. So, I’m thinkin 5-6 years. If there’s a GM willing to make this sort of commitment to him, I bet he’d drop the price, BIG-TIME, to land some six-year deal at a very reasonable cap hit. But that would pay him until he’s 38-39 years old. I don’t see that as being the Atlanta Thrashers’ best option. Nor his, to be frank about it. Trade him! He was acquired as a salary dump from Toronto, to fetch us a 2nd round pick in the 2010 draft. Make it happen, Waddell.

Mooooooose: I love Hedberg. I’m so proud of him. He’s a multiple time “teammate’s teammate award winner.” Nobody is classier in the whole league than Johan. He’s a great guy. He’s battler. He’s a competitor. He’s a total team player. Everyone in that lockerrom wishes him well, and tries their very best for him, when he gets a start. If we’re out of it, you MUST trade him. He’ll get a decent return. DW, send Moose someplace nice, where he can see some playoff minutes. Then, re-sign him, as a UFA. :smile:

Max “Finny” Afinogenov: I’d double his pay and re-sign him for one-year, at $1.6 million. Pretty much, you can’t wrong with that deal. Even if he only fetches 40 points next year, he’s still a responsible contract. And you can still move him at that price, as a “rental” at the 2011 trade deadline. If Atlanta’s totally out of it at the deadline, you must trade Max, while his trade value is as high as it is. He had NO TAKERS in unrestricted free agency and at last year’s deadline. Buffalo couldn’t GIVE HIM AWAY. No takers.

Kozlov: His shootout value, alone, is worth $2.5 million. But, does he really want to play “Eric Boulton minutes” for us??? ‘Cuz that’s all I’d give him, with a new contract. I’d tell Slava, “sit there, on the bench, and we’ll call you for the shootout.” My offer? One-year, at $1.9 million. Take it or leave it. And he’d be right to leave it. If he’ll waive his no trade clause, I’d move him at the deadline.

Slater: Re-sign him. What??? Are we knockin’ on the door of the Stanley Cup championship? Then, there’s no harm in re-signing Slater, at $750K, for one-year.

Boulton: Re-sign him, if no other free agent is willing to take over his role, at $600,000. A one-year deal will suffice. And if Boulton inks it, he’ll be one of the longest tenured Thrashers in team history. He was initially signed on a whim, by Waddell. And he kept on getting renewed. Just like, I suspect, he will this time, too.

Popovic: Interesting decision. I’d package him as “sweetener” in a trade deadline deal. Then try to re-sign him, at 600K, as a UFA. Why not try to “rent” him? Everyone comes looking for blueline depth, as the playoffs approach. Of course, he’s got to get healthy.

Schubert: I like him. I’d still package him as “Sweetener,” too. Then, depending on prospect development, re-sign him. It’s not the end of the Thrashers if Schubert departs. My God, he was a “waiver claim.” We’re not married to him.

Kovalchuk: If you’d asked me, between June 28-30, 2009, I’d have made some OUTLANDISH offer to Kovalchuk. Ready for honesty? I wouldn’t make this deal, today. $121.2 milllion, over 12 years, for a cap hit of $10.1 million, paid out in $10.1 million increments. Same salary. Every year. That’s MORE than Ovechkin and MORE than Crosby. And locks him up for life. And the deal would be presented on July 1, 2009, with an expiration date of July 14, 2009. If the contract isn’t signed, or renegotiated for less years, at the same terms, Kovy gets traded. And if fans are furious about it, ask them this question. “Did we, as an organization, INSULT Kovalchuk with a $121.2 million offer? Did we, REALLY?” CLEARLY NOT. That’s a ridiculous offer. And I know it. But it avoids all of what we’re seeing now. Maybe Kovy says, “I’ll sign it, so long as you trade to (supply other team name here).” And then, maybe the Thrashers get something decent in the return. If Kovy says, “nyet,” then you KNOW AHEAD OF TIME … you’re losing him at the conclusion of the season. Any way you slice and dice it, Thrasher fans won’t be happy. All you’ve done there, in that situation, is buy ‘meaningless’ time, from your irate fanbase. You’ll face the music, and the depths of the cold, steely waters of the North Atlantic Ocean.


January 23rd, 2010
1:44 pm

Uht-oh. Trixie. I’m in SPAM filters.

James Brown

January 23rd, 2010
1:46 pm

Wonder what it would take to pry David Poile away from Nashville? I can dream can`t I?

Yes LAC I was at both playoff games in `74 against the Broad Street Bullies and that was the most physical playoff series I have ever seen and I`ve been watching hockey since the mid `60s.

Fletcher and Poile built that team to be able to play with teams like the Flyers. Oh for a GM like those guys.


January 23rd, 2010
1:46 pm

Armstrong – I would like to see him stay, but his lack of production this year leads me to believe he doesn’t really want to be here…so trade him.

Kubina – sign him…will he stay here though?

Popovic – let him go. we have depth in the minors to cover this spot, especially if….

Schubert – sign him…2 years at low salary…yes, he takes dumb chances and penalties, but we simply need another big body on the blueline

Max – he will not sign here for a reasonable amount if Kovvy isn’t here…so need to let him go

Slater – sign him for cheap again…he is actually improving and we need his energy…I like him with Little and Kane.

Slava – it’s over. thanks for everything, but it’s just….over.

Boulton – brings nothing but an actually scrap…have not been too impressed this year except for a play here and a play there

Moose – it’s going to be Pavs/Kari I think next year…obviously, Kari is a wild card still. Moose has been great for this team, but I can’t see another year.

Kovvy – Yes for $10MM or less…no for $11MM. I still hold on hope, but it’s fading with every loss.


January 23rd, 2010
2:09 pm

Thanks Brendan. I too, unfortunately, think Waddell’s is safe. In the AS’s eyes he’s exactly what they want. A “yes” man. He will be here until the team is sold. Hopefully at that point they aren’t moved. I broke my oath of staying in my house as long as DW is in the organ-I-zations. I got lulled into believing they had turned the corner at the end of November so I went to 2 games in the early part of December. At least the tickets were free and they won both games but I’m kicking myself for giving them my money on concessions.

Well at least my Hawks (Blackhawks that is) are giving me something to watch. That and the Av’s… Hell, before seasons end I may be forced to watch 2 ex-Thrashers playing for Chicago :(

BTW I have 2 vouchers for Tuesday nights game if anyone is interested. Good for 2 tickets each. I’m sure as hell not going to use’em. The only way I’ll go back to Phillips with Waddell still here is if it’s a second round playoff game. I’ll happily pay through the nose for a ticket, but I have a feeling my money is safe.


January 23rd, 2010
2:13 pm

NY Rangers announcers and local NY reporters have said that Thrashers scouts have been at the last 3 Rangers games – including Thursday’s game at Philly. Rumor is they want one of our goalies (I assume Moose) to stablize their back-up.