It is said that one cannot know where they are going unless you first know where you have been…or even where you are now. With that in mind, let’s take a look-see at exactly where the Thrashers are right now before we embark on our trip to the NHL’s UFA talent pool later this week.
Given the players that Atlanta has currently under contract as well as RFAs that have received qualifying offers, I’ve put together a possible lineup that Craig Ramsay could skate out on the ice. Next to each player, I’ve placed their salaries… basing the information on numbers listed on gapgeek.com.
Since I do not yet know what the RFAs have been offered, I have listed their salaries from last year’s contracts…though certainly those will be adjusted once we gain an appreciation of their new offers.
Bergfors – RFA ($800,000)
Antropov – $4,062,500
Byfuglien – $3,000,000
Kane – $3,100,000
Peverley – $1,325,000
Little – RFA ($900,000)
MacArthur – RFA ($1,400,000)
Slater – $1,000,000
White – $2,375,000
Eager – RFA ($1,000,000)
Cormier – $845,833
Thorburn – $660,000
Press Box: Kingberg – $790,000/ Machacek – $858,333
Hainsey – $4,500,000
Enstrom – $3,750,000
Oduya – $3,500,000
Sopel – $2,333,333
Bogosian – $3,375,000
Kulda – $516,000
PB: Valabik – $762,500
Pavelec – RFA ($1,400,000) / Mannino $500,000
Considering the roster listed above, the salaries of those currently under contract totals $37,253,499 and the RFA numbers from last season come to $5,500,000. This would bring the estimated total to $42,753,499…leaving the team with about $16.5 million in cap space.
Should so chose to do so, other players that could be mixed and matched above are…
Forward Anthony Stewart – RFA ($600,000)
Forward Angelo Esposito – $916,667
Defense Ivan Vishnevskiy – $821,667
F.orward Fredrik Pettersson – $615,000
Defense Paul Postma – $875,000
Either way you would put the team together, it can be safe to assume this will not be the lineup we see in three months. But this at least gives a decent snapshot of where we are at the beginning of our journey.
Now, looking forward…where might Rick Dudley look to improve upon what he has to work with at this time?
In goal, I would be stunned if we see a Pavelec/Mannino tandem. I’d also me very, very concerned. But if Hedberg is to be re-signed, then Mannino heads back to the AHL Wolves and we see a return of last season’s pairing between the pipes.
Hedberg made about $1.1 million last season…so his return would elevate the payroll about half a mil or so if he replaces Mannino.
The other options here are a UFA or trade.
On defense, most of us are hoping to see Dudley and Co. bring Pavel Kubina back into the fold. To that measure, Dudley has said the two parties are still a little ways apart and Ramsay hopes the veteran defenseman is will to accept a “hometown discount”.
Kubina seems to like the Thrashers’ decision to hire Ramsey saying, “I like the direction of the team and I really like Rammer. He’s a great teacher”.
If Kubina does return…adding $3-4 million to the payoll…then that alters the makeup of the Thrashers’ blueline. My take would be that he’d replace Valabik on the roster…making Boris expendable for trade. It’s either that or Dudley keeps Kulda in Chicago. But personally, if a choice had to be made between the two, I’d rather see Kulda in a Thrashers jersey than Valabik this season.
Mark Popovic and Christoph Schubert are slated to be UFAs Thursday morning. Dudley has said that they expect the two to take a dip in the UFA pool this week.
Up front…I would love to see the Thrashers come to terms with Maxim Afinogenov. The 24-goal scorer from last season had indicated he’d be willing to play here again, however I can’t blame him at all for turning his nose up at a contract that spans only one season. Personally, I’d have given him at least two years, possibly three given what he did here.
What part of the Thrashers roster concerns you most?
Total Voters: 141
But it looks more and more likely that Max will seek employment elsewhere come Thursday morning. As Dudley recently told Chris Vivlamore, “We’ve talked to Afinogenov, although it would seem now that Max will test the free-agent market. We’ve made him an offer”.
Colby Armstrong, Eric Boulton and Evgeny Artyukhin are also pending free agents. Bolts is mulling over an offer from the Thrashers while Army and Arty will more than likely seek employment elsewhere.
Dudley has indicated he would like to add a 15-goal scorer. To get one, he could test the waters in the UFA pool, of course…or take a Valabik and/or Todd White, package them up with picks/prospects and go on a little shopping spree.
As far as cap issues are concerned, an apples-for-apples type of deal involving those two would be offset by a player that earns somewhere in the neighborhood of $3-3.25 million. While that seems like a lot of money to shell out for a 15-goal scorer, keep in mind that that level of production would more than double White’s output of last season.
And for only about a mil more. Just sayin’….