Thrashers hire Mason to build brick wall in front of goal

Thursday afternoon Thrasherville saw a changing of the guard in goal. First, free agent netminder Chris Mason signed a two-year deal with Atlanta that will pay him $1.6 million this coming season and then $2.1 in 2011-12. The cap hit will be figured at $1.85 million. Mason’s coming off a contract that had paid $3-mil per year.

Chris Mason has a career 2.54 GAA and .914 SV% with 20 shoutouts. He signed a two year contract Thursday to play for the Thrashers (AP photo)

Chris Mason has a career 2.54 GAA and .914 SV% with 20 shoutouts. He signed a two year contract Thursday to play for the Thrashers (AP photo)

Shortly thereafter, Atlanta fan favorite Johan Hedberg then agreed to terms with New Jesery…the team that drafted Mason in 1995 with the 122nd overall pick. It’s a contract that will pay him $1.5 mil this season.

And with that… in just a matter of minutes, the Thrashers hired a Mason to help build a solid brink wall in front of the Thrashers goal, then we watched as Moose rode off into the Thrasherville sunset.

Yes, I know… New Jersey is not to our west, it’s NNE of here

The 34-year old Mason has spent the last two seasons with the St. Louis Blues and prior to that he was with the Nashville Predators. Last year he was 30-22-8 with a .913 SV% and 2.53 GAA and 2 shutouts. His career mark is 115-86-26 with one tie and a 2.54 GAA and .914 SV% and 20 SO.

Even though the Blues were swept by Vancouver in the 2009 playoffs and Mason took all four loses, his stats were still very good…2.34 GAA and .916 SV% facing an average of 29.75 Canucks shots in the series.

But Rick Dudley’s work wasn’t through just yet. Before long we heard of a trade that brought another member of last year’s Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks to the Thrashers. Forward Andrew Ladd was traded for in exchange for prospect defenseman Evgeni Vishnevskiy and our 2nd round pick next summer. The left winger joins fellow former-Blackhawks Dustin Byfuglien, Brent Sopel and Ben Eager who were traded for just last week.

Last year, the 6’-2”, 200-pound Ladd played in all 82 regular season games scoring 17 goals, 21 assists and was a +2 with 67 PIM. During the postseason, he netted 3 goals and 3 assits and was a +4. The 25-year old native of British Columbia scored the second period goal in the deciding game-six in Philadelphia that put the Hawks up 3-2 with 2:17 before the second intermission.

Ladd was the 4th overall pick in the 2004 by the Carolina Hurricanes and has played in 321 career games where he has scored 63 goals, 86 assists and is a +42. He was a +26 two seasons ago for Chicago and has never finished a season with a negative +/- rating.

He’s an RFA who has been extended a qualifying offer and made $1.6 million last year.

However, Rick Dudley still wasn’t quite done yet as later in the evening it was learned that the Thrashers had signed defenseman Mike Siklenka. This would be nothing more than a depth move…more than likely replacing Vishevskiy in Chicago, I’d guess.

Siklenka is from Saskatchewan and was selected by the Washington Capitals with the 118th overall pick in the 1998 draft. He’s played in four NHL games…two with the Flyers and two with the Rangers…and has no points and no PIM to show for it.

He has spent the last two seasons with EC Red Bull Salzburg of the Erste Bank Hockey League. They play their home games in Salzburg, Austria.

As for the day’s activities, my initial reation is a positive one.

First of all…Ondrej Pavelec is not ready to be anointed the number-one goalie here. Hedberg had a great season last year, but he is a career backup and I simply was not comfortable with pinning next season’s hopes on him repeating that performance.

What do you think of the Mason signing and Ladd trade?

  • Thumbs up to both! (88%, 146 Votes)
  • Thumbs down to both! (1%, 1 Votes)
  • Thumbs up Mason-Not Ladd (3%, 5 Votes)
  • Thumbs up Ladd-Not Mason (2%, 4 Votes)
  • Mike Siklenka? The Cup is ours! (6%, 10 Votes)

Total Voters: 166

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Mason has started 50+ games over the past three seasons and he has never posted a goals against average lower than 2.90 in his career, (exept for the 5.21 GAA posted in 1998-99 when he played in but 3 games). So he’s shown he can hold up over the course of a season and post consistent numbers.

Would I have preferred Evgeni Nabokov? Sure…but Mason is a solid pickup and we are better at that position now than before the signing.

As for Ladd…well, this was the 15+ goal scorer that Rick Dudley hinted of this week. To procure his services, we gave up a second round pick and a propsect blueliner that quite frankly had no chance of playing at the NHL here this season. Not a bad excahnge at all.

Here’s another way to look at it…

Six months ago the Thrashers were looking to move the oft-injured Kari Lehtonen, the goalie taken with Atlanta’s 2nd overall pick in 2002. Last winter he was dealt to Dallas for Vishnevskiy and the Stars’ fourth round draft pick…used to procure Russian left wing Ivan Telegin. Dudley and Co. then used Vishnevskiy and a future draft pick to bring in Ladd.

So in essence, we parted ways with Lehtonen and a 2011 second round selection in exchange for Ladd and a 2010 fourth rounder. Then, Mason takes over the top spot in the Thrashers’ goal that was once held by Kari…after Moose filled in valiantly last season. In the end, we wind up with a number-one goalie, a 15+ goal scorer and a mid-round prospect…all for roughly the same price as Lehtonen alone.

Nice work, Mr. Dudley.

Now, Give Yourselves A Big Pat On The Back

Yesterday, Rawhide’s Rowdies showed up in full force to the 2010 UFA Talent Pool Party! At the time of this posting, 616 comments were posted on that blog…by far surpassing the old record of 506, set last July 1.

After a while, the techno-geeks downtown at the AJC office had to toss a few extra hamsters on the wheel to provide more power to this little blog-thingy.

Thanks to all of you who joined in the fun!

336 comments Add your comment

hip czech

July 2nd, 2010
9:15 am

Toby, to be honest, I’d rather keep Oduya and not sign Kubina if that is the choice.

I think Kubina can be signed with no other moves needing to be made. Sign Kubina, and if not then use the money on Stempniak

GaVaHokie

July 2nd, 2010
9:16 am

I’m happy about Mason… but would like to point out we have another goalie who likes to put video game characters on his helmet. :)

Lehtonen is a kid, but Mason is 35 years old.

POTF

July 2nd, 2010
9:18 am

Toby-Does ASG really have an internal cap after giving the Hawk’s Johnson that ridiculous contract?

Bluenote

July 2nd, 2010
9:19 am

600+ comments yesterday? Clearly there are a lot of people with too much time on their hands.

Great news and props to Dudley on what look to be some great moves. Now get Pasha signed!

Tip of the hat to Moose for being a class act and best wishes in the swampland. You’ll be missed and we’ll be cheering for you…except when the Thrashawks play NJ.

Tip of the hat to Spud: they know what causes that now. Congrats and enjoy every minute of the ride. It goes by fast. Just got back from an excellent European adventure with mine which involved a lot of World Cup action, camraderie and bistros. What an embarrassment. Memo to FIFA: video review works in the NHL. Try it.

Everybody looks good at the starting line (Paul Thorn)…but I’m loving some strong moves yesterday.
Well played Mr. Dudley.

glovesave29

July 2nd, 2010
9:19 am

Sara..truer words never spoken. It is after all…just a game.

Toby – no way do I get rid of Oduya. He’s 28 and will be an asset for years to come. Not for the sake of bringing back Kubina…especially when we have the ability to do both. Any idea that keeps Valabik in Atlanta is, in my mind, a bad idea. And congrats to you to on the little one!

POTF

July 2nd, 2010
9:20 am

Rawhide- I think you spammed my posts.

Rawhide

July 2nd, 2010
9:20 am

Toby – Congrats to you too!

Sara, RL & GS29 – Points taken. Like I said…I like Nabokov, but that in no way means I’m unhappy with Mason here. Very good signing.

Looking back 2 years, I really wanted Waddell to sign Campbell…thought our blueline really needed that kinda player. We didn’t, of course, and as I look back on it…I’m happy we were not able to bring him in. I trust…hope…two years down the road I will look back at not getting Nabokov the same way.

GaVaHokie

July 2nd, 2010
9:21 am

I won’t bust his balls too much… his helmets are much cooler than Lehtonen’s…

http://www.eyecandyair.com/goaliemasks/chrismason.htm

Rawhide

July 2nd, 2010
9:21 am

five_hole – errr…uh…unless you know something I don’t, I’m not the one in line for congrats. Toby and Sput Web are.

To that point…I would also like to give GaVaHokie a big shout out on the recent birth of his tax exemption!!!

GaVaHokie

July 2nd, 2010
9:23 am

Only guy building walls in Phillips this fall will be Roger Waters.

I would like to nominate Joe Friday for an early “post of the year”… good one! :)

Joe Friday

July 2nd, 2010
9:23 am

“we’e at 23 players and $48 – 49M. That might be the budget, folks. I’d like to see us spend $3 – 5M more for Kubes or, more preferable, a legit top 6 scorer, but alas, we may be done.”

I think you’re spot on here. Dudley said previously he didn’t care what the budget was, just let him know what the # is and he’ll build the club, and I think that’s why we’ve seen the moves we’ve seen. Not top end guys but he brought in a bunch of quality 2nd and 3rd tier guys. And it’s why we saw them go cheap on goalie, again. The budget just isn’t there for the top end guys who are difference makers.

You generally get what you pay for, but let’s hope Ramsay can coach them up and that there’s some money left over in the budget for deadline deals to bring in RedLight’s playmaker and make a move for a solid goalie if they can stay in the hunt. Question is, who do they have to move to afford Kubina if they can re-sign him?

GaVaHokie

July 2nd, 2010
9:24 am

Rawhide… no here yet… July 27th is the due date, but there’s a chance it could be earlier.

Joe Friday

July 2nd, 2010
9:30 am

“Mason is 35 years old.”

Whoa, I thought he was younger than that. Is he an older Moose then? Nabokov is 35 as well. I did not know Mason was that old.

“I would like to nominate Joe Friday for an early “post of the year”… good one!”

counting the days to the show, got my tix 1st minute of the presale . . . Mother, did it need to be so high?

Sara

July 2nd, 2010
9:31 am

Joe Friday – I won’t disagree with you that the Sharks blew it by taking Nitty over Nabby (though I’ve heard rumblings they have some interest in Turco as well … the one UFA goalie I’d want less than Nabby).

Sara

July 2nd, 2010
9:32 am

BTW, Tampa just signed Kubina for 2 years.

Red Light

July 2nd, 2010
9:32 am

Something I just Tweeted. Is there new meaning to the term “Eastern Bloc(k)?” There are 20 Russians, Slovaks, Czechs etc. that went unsigned after day one of free agency. Did greed price them out of the early market? You decide, but here are the names. Some are a bit too old to worry about, but I would have thought some of these guys would have been in play yesterday.

Kovalchuk, Nabokov, Kubina, Demitra, Kozlov, Grebeshkov, Afinogenov, Ponikarovsky, Salei, Frolov, Svatos, Fedentenko, Sykora, Jurcina, Lang, Artyukhin, Krajicek, Satan, Ivanans and Skoula.

Rawhide

July 2nd, 2010
9:37 am

Hokie – OK…thanks for the update. I hope everything…ahem…come out alright!

Red Light

July 2nd, 2010
9:38 am

I wonder how much Kubina got?

da' boomer

July 2nd, 2010
9:39 am

Sara

July 2nd, 2010
9:41 am

Plan B should be Arturs Kulda.

World Be Free

July 2nd, 2010
9:43 am

hip-based on past history, I understand, appreciate and agree with the skeptics. You cannot blame anyone for being skeptical about the Thrashers, there’s too much history to deny negativity. I appreciate people for sticking to their guns until there’s evidence to prove otherwise. But I think it is time to move forward. Wish Kubina would have resigned, but thems the breaks.

A27

July 2nd, 2010
9:43 am

Wow!!! That sucks that Kubina went back to T.B. Man… I hope Duds has a Plan B. Total bummer:(

Alan R.

July 2nd, 2010
9:47 am

From PuckAgency on Twitter:

Pavel Kubina Signs Two-Year Deal With Tampa Bay Lightning 34 minutes ago via TweetDeck

Alan R.

July 2nd, 2010
9:48 am

Wow, I should really learn to refresh these pages before posting stuff. Oh well. Looks like Kulda gets an extended look this year.

Jack

July 2nd, 2010
9:48 am

That really sucks. We lost him and now he is going to TB. :(

Michael

July 2nd, 2010
9:52 am

I can’t believe we were off on dollars and TERM if he only signed for 2 years. He is only 33…would have been happy to have him for two more years. I am confident Duds knows what he is doing. I am looking forward to Bogo and Kulda together next year.

Sara

July 2nd, 2010
9:53 am

Yzerman is kicking tail and taking names in TB. They are going to be a solid team next season. But that’s ok – to be the best you have to learn how to hang with and beat the best as well. Since we play the divisional teams the most, it benefits our developing players to have the competition in order to learn.

See – bright side. :p

Toby

July 2nd, 2010
9:53 am

Thanks much to all…

Well…my prediction went to crap in about 5 minutes. I think we’ll be just fine with Bogosian – Kulda.

hip czech

July 2nd, 2010
9:53 am

Losing Kubina is not the end of the world….let’s see which direction Dudley goes now. A forward (Stempniak or Torres) would be OK, maybe a Corvo/Salei type defenseman?

Carlo Colaiacovo from Stl wouldn’t be bad in my book…we’ll see.

WBF, I meant the ‘five month plan’ to be taken in a positive light….Dudley will have accomplished in a 5 month plan what Waddell said he would do in (2) five year plan. This team is getting a ’style’ and identity and a good young core.

Red Light

July 2nd, 2010
10:05 am

Sara:

Tampa has only added Ellis and Kubina, re-signed Marty STL and lost versatile Kurtis Foster and Niittymaki. Lets not get ahead of ourselves just yet. He still has five roster spots to fill not including RFAs Downie, Thompson, Lundin and Ranger. Sadly, he has plenty of Cap Space too.

TableHockey

July 2nd, 2010
10:07 am

GaVaHokie – thanks for the link. I’m sure Mason will have a cool ATL helmet. On that topic I’m actually anxious to see Moose’s helmet in NJ. He has always had some of my favorite designs.

I’ll mourn the loss of Kubina for a bit but I think Sopel will actually be a better puck moving D-man. I think Kulda is ready to come up but I am a bit concerned about how his stay at home play will mesh with Ramsay’s system.

I actually thought Boris showed decent improvement before his last injury. If he could stay healthy I think he could be a viable option for our D.

Red Light

July 2nd, 2010
10:09 am

Just asking… I wonder what Kubina and Army would have brought in return at the trade deadline. Likely the two second-rounders we sent to Chicago? Bygones!

Joe Friday

July 2nd, 2010
10:24 am

“Tampa has only added Ellis and Kubina, re-signed Marty STL and lost versatile Kurtis Foster and Niittymaki. Lets not get ahead of ourselves just yet.”

No doubt. Ellis is a win for us, not Yzerman, he and Smith as a tandem blow. They had to get Kubina to solidify D in front of weak goaltending.

Re. Kubina, I think BadgerBob figured it out. We’ve hit our internal cap. There was no room for Kubina and it’s why we went cheap on goaltending. It’d be nice to be able to spend up to $55m or so and get Kubina and another scorer, but I think the best we can hope for is another $2m forward, anyone see somebody left out there that would fit the bill? It may be that Waduds are done here and this is our lineup.

World Be Free

July 2nd, 2010
10:27 am

hip-I caught your positive spin. I like the 3 month plan!

Sara-TB has a horrible defense, traded Mezaros for very little. Pavel is not an upgrade over Mezaros. They still have alot to do on defense, both on the backline and their forwards. Re-upping St. Louis is not going to improve their forward lines.

Brendan

July 2nd, 2010
10:27 am

I would say that the only reason Nabakov won’t be back in San Jose next year … is because of the salary cap. They’d pay him and keep him, if they could. They opted to re-ink Patrick Marleau and Joe Pavelski to nice deals. I already posted that Niittymaki is not the answer for a Nabby replacement. But, who knows? I’ve always liked Niittymaki, aside from the 17 times he defeated the Thrashers.

Joe Friday, Mason is three years younger than Moose, and paid about $200,000 more a year, in terms of cap hit. I think the Thrashers made the right move. Or, at least, a better move than keeping Moose.

Sara, I think the Thrashers won’t have to score as many goals next year. The Thrashers shouldn’t be giving up 260-285 GA anymore. Hopefully, that figure will come down significantly this year. I think the Thrashers have embarked on that “depth strategy” that I’ve so often talked about, where you have 9-10 forwards that can each score 16-22 goals a year. I think Ladd replaces Colby Armstrong. And then some. And that Byfuglien replaces Kozlov, and then some. And, hopefully, Bryan Little is returned to his natural CENTER position, and scores 20 or more goals. With some luck, 25 goals. (He once scored 31. So, it’s not utterly inconceivable to be at 25.) As Red Light points out, we need another strong year from our statistical lead, Nik Antropov. I’d build the marketing campaign around Antropov and Kane. And speaking of Kane, I suspect he’s going to have a terrific year. When you add it all up, Kane, Antro, Little, Buff, Ladd, … it starts to offset some of that Kovalchuk production. Who knows what Eager might contribute? And let’s not forget that Ramsay talked of rushing defensemen. We know Bogosian can score. Hainsey can score, too. Enstrom, who knows? Enstrom’s known more for assists. Oduya will be a steady force on the blueline. I’m ready to drop the puck, already. Trouble is, it’s July 2. Oops.

TableHockey

July 2nd, 2010
10:28 am

Joe – I think you are right. I tuned in to 680 on the way home yesterday and caught an interview with Dudley. He basically said they were happy with the team now but if something came along that would be a good option they would consider it.

Brendan

July 2nd, 2010
10:30 am

Joe Friday, with some luck, Joe Johnson refuses to sign Atlanta’s $119 million offer, and we can push that cap figure closer to $55 million. Wishful thinking, I do realize. What’s the cap this year? $59 million?

GaVaHokie

July 2nd, 2010
10:31 am

Joe Friday… have a few friends going to that show as well. I was never much of a Floyd fan… more of a GNR/Van Halen/AC-DC kind of guy. It should be a great show! And that’s an understatement.

The money from that show should pay quite a few Thrasher salaries. :)

Joe Friday

July 2nd, 2010
10:31 am

“I think Sopel will actually be a better puck moving D-man.”

Sopel is more of a stay at home defensive guy than Kubina is, and he’s a worse skater. Kubina banked a lot of pts for us on the backline last year. We went backwards on D with the loss of Kubina and adding Sopel, what we gained was $2m, that was all about money with that move.

My hope is that Bogosian takes a big step forward for us this year. He’s my key guy on the club this year. I think the injuries and soph slump really hit him hard last year and he’s ready to step up. This club looks a lot different if Bogosian can turn into a top line dman that can eat 25 minutes a night.

Brendan

July 2nd, 2010
10:33 am

Guys and gals, I’ve always said that we have to compare ourselves against Tampa Bay, Columbus, Edmonton, Phoenix, Buffalo, etc. Over the years, we’ve been in close proximity to these clubs at the draft, and in our market size and spending situation.

Hopefully, we beat Tampa Bay this time around. Back in 2001, when the Bolts were the worst team in the league, they won the Cup by 2004.

Brendan

July 2nd, 2010
10:36 am

Rawhide, I’m still on the road today. Hopefully, I can catch up with the posters a little later. C’mon Thrashers, let’s keep adding pieces!!

Rawhide

July 2nd, 2010
10:42 am

Sopel is more of a stay at home defensive guy than Kubina is, and he’s a worse skater. Kubina banked a lot of pts for us on the backline last year. We went backwards on D with the loss of Kubina and adding Sopel, what we gained was $2m, that was all about money with that move. …My hope is that Bogosian takes a big step forward for us this year.

Joe Friday – Where we may disagree on the Mason signing, here we mostly agree. Sopel is a good addition to the blueline assuming Kubina was here as well. My hope is that with the extra $$ now available by not signing PK, we might still be able to make some sort of trade to bring in another top-line defenseman.

As I have said before, though…I’m going to wait until the process of building this team is complete before passing judgement on whether Dudley has done his job or not. I want to see the “whole” product. That said, I think he’s done well overall so far.

As for Bogosian…agreed. I’m looking for Zach to have a big year.

Brendan – Safe travels!

Matt

July 2nd, 2010
10:43 am

As I posted on Chris’s blog:

“This post would be FILLED with expletives if I were allowed to curse on this blog. WTH, ASG, you make some nice moves and then blow all of that potential goodwill by being cheap and playing games with Kubina?? WTH, already?”

Red Light

July 2nd, 2010
10:43 am

Lebrun says Kubina got $7.7 for two years.

R. Stroz

July 2nd, 2010
10:45 am

I wonder what Kubina and Army would have brought in return at the trade deadline.

Army should have been moved for a second round draft pick. Anyone with a luke warm temperature IQ could see the writing on the wall with that situation.

Oh well, the Thrashers needed to market there “March to Playoffs” campaign to sell tickets which was to the long term detriment of the team.

In Brendan’s words, Bygones. BTW, do Bygones = Waddell?

GaVaHokie

July 2nd, 2010
10:46 am

Interesting quote from Dudley on Chris Mason… “He was our #1 choice, and it helped that our President and his Agent were really close friends.”

Joe Friday

July 2nd, 2010
10:47 am

“Joe – I think you are right. I tuned in to 680 on the way home yesterday and caught an interview with Dudley. He basically said they were happy with the team now but if something came along that would be a good option they would consider it.”

Badger Bob’s the one that figured it out. And I think they’re done because as BB also pointed out, there’s some RFA’s to be negotiated. They want to lock up Ladd and some other guys long term.

I know we all wanted more (me a better goalie, etc.) but (I hate this) it is what it is . . . in terms of dealing with the FlufferCheapCheapSpiritSquad internal cap. Duds did the best he could with the parameters given to him and it’s a more cohesive group, on paper, than what Waddell would cobble together on his own, and he’s got a good coach.

In the big picture, these guys could stay in the mix with Ramsay coaching them up. There will most likely be some short term pain with all the new guys adjusting to new systems, Hawks on hangovers and missing their old teammates, but if they gel by late fall there’s probably some internal cap money left to go get a piece or two to make a playoff run. All in all, it’s hard to be overly critical as they really only can spend the money they’re given to work with. And I’d rather watch Buff and Ladd bang bodies and work hard than watch Max and Kovy float around cherry picking goals yet give up odd man rushes all night the other way.

All in all, it’s a grade of B in my book for Waduds given the internal cap they have to work under (a C+ overall for the team when grading the SpiritSquad as well due to their internal cap, let’s hope Kincade’s rumored sale of the Thrashers leads to something).

Joe Friday

July 2nd, 2010
10:51 am

“Lebrun says Kubina got $7.7 for two years”

further proof that we’re done adding pieces. That’s a great deal to get Kubina at that price, and we couldn’t afford $3.85m? Oof.

Brendan, I think the cap went up to $59.5m for the league this year and our internal cap is probably around $50m.

“Interesting quote from Dudley on Chris Mason… “He was our #1 choice, and it helped that our President and his Agent were really close friends.””

Great. I knew I smelled the stink of Waddell’s hand on that deal. Mason is a Waddell blue light special. But gee, mabye Waddell will get one right after all, he’s the guy that brought in Damian Rhodes, Norm Maracle, Dunham, ah never mind . . .

Jack

July 2nd, 2010
10:56 am

Any thoughts on Plan B now that Kubina is gone….

hip czech

July 2nd, 2010
11:02 am

good analysis of the goalie signings from a Phlyer perspective:

http://www.sportingnews.com/blog/The_Grinder/entry/view/70416/flyers_fail_in_free-agent_goalie_shuffle

Rumor has it that Kovalchuk’s asking price to the LAK is 10 years at 10 mill per…no way he’ll get that.