There’s a report coming from Sweden that the Thrashers have signed veteran forward Fredrik Modin to a one-year contract. I’ve yet to see any official confirmation of the signing, however Dan Kamal tweets and TSN reports that the deal has indeed gone down. Regardless, it wouldn’t surprise me that the rumors are true, given the fact that the 6’-4”, 223 lb forward has past ties with both Craig Ramsay and Rick Dudley. All three were a part of the 2004 Stanley Cup winning Tampa Bay Lightning team.
Modin will be 36 years old on October 8 and is currently a UFA coming off a three-year $9.75 million contract which brought with it a $3.25 mil cap hit. Last season he split time between the Columbus Blue Jackets and Los Angeles Kings, netting a total of 5 goals and 6 assists during 44 total games. He was a –6 in 24 games with Columbus and a –2 in 20 games in LA. Last spring he played in 6 playoff games with the Kings during their round one loss to Vancouver, scoring 3 goals and 1 assist while finishing a –3.
For most of Modin’s career, he’s been looked upon as a 20+ goal scorer. In 2000-01 he scored 32 goals and 24 assists, in 2003-04 he had 28 goals and 29 assists and the following season he netted 31 goals and 23 assists. However after leaving Tampa and heading to Columbus, injuries have limited his play for the past three seasons. In 2007-08 he played in just 23 games, 50 the season after that and only 44 last year.
In 858 career NHL games he has 225 goals, 227 assists, 439 PIM and is a +3. He’s appeared in 57 playoff games where he’s scored 14 times and chipped in with 12 assists. In 2004, he scored 8 goals and 11 assists during 23 playoff matches to help earn him a sip from the Stanley Cup.
So now, the big question is…why would Dudley bring in a player who will turn 36 on opening night? Especially after saying he wants prospects like Patrice Cormier, Spencer Machacek and Alex Burmistrov to have every opportunity to earn roster spots during training camp.
Well, I have a possible suggestion…insurance.
First off, Modin could add a little more veteran presence to this lineup. Yes, it’s good to have a good amount of healthy, hungry youngsters on the team, but the stability that comes with a number of “been there, done that, got my name on the Cup” types doesn’t hurt either. Possibly he, along with Patrick Rissmiller, could be on the roster filling the roles of healthy scratches in the press box while providing the occasional spot start.
But if one or two of the young-uns are not able to prove themselves ready in preseason or are not able to handle playing everyday at the NHL level this fall, Dudley and Ramsay need a player like Modin to fall back on…giving a young player a short break to regain his stride.
Another possible reason to bring in Modin in the mane of insurance is that Dudley and Co. are very concerned about the contract impasse that the Thrashers find themselves at with Nic Bergfors. If they are not able to come to terms with the RFA and he chooses to hold out, or the Thrashers feel the need to trade away his rights, then Dudley needs a left wing to fill Bergie’s vacancy on one of the top two lines.
Maybe Modin takes that top-six spot, or maybe Andrew Ladd does and Modin plays on the third line.
Are there drawbacks to bringing in Modin? Sure…
His age and recent health issues are certainly a cause for concern. If they are looking to have a backup plan in case Bergfors in unavailable at the beginning of the season, there is a 13-year gap between those two players.
Of course, there is also the financial part of the equation too. I highly doubt the organization is offering up anything close to the $3.5 million Modin made last season. But a 1-year deal at or around a mil wouldn’t be out of the question for such an insurance policy. Certainly the Thrashers have the room under the cap for it, but anything more would be too much in my opinion.
Regardless… as is the case with any type of insurance… people tend to go with those they know and trust. And I don’t think it’s too much a stretch to think this would be the reason why Dudley and Ramsay might opt to bring in Fredrik Modin for just such a purpose.