Do the Thrashers still need another top-six forward?

I’m quite sure that upon reading the question posed in today’s header, most of you already answered the enquiry out loud. And I’m certain it was phrased something like… “Do we need another winger for one of the top two lines? Well, yeah…DUH, Rawhide”!

Nik Antropov scored 24 goals for the Thrashers as the top-line center last season (AP Photo)

Nik Antropov scored 24 goals, 43 assists and was a +13 as the Thrashers top-line center last season (AP Photo)

Uh-huh…and maybe there were a few other special words strategically placed as well.

But let’s take a look at this for just a second. Right now the top two lines that could be rolled out October 8 could possibly consist of Nik Antropov centering Nic Bergfors and Bryan Little as well as Rich Peverley in between Dustin Byfuglien and Evander Kane.

So…which one of those players isn’t worthy of top-six status? I’m sure that debate will be waged in the comment section below.

Regardless, there are a couple of issues here to take into consideration. First of which is that Bergie is still yet unsigned. When the RFA and the Thrashers will come to terms is anyone’s guess. Then you also have the whole “Byfuglien could play on defense” thingy that’s been floated out there by Mr. Dudley. Take either of those two players out of the equation then I join the chorus of those calling for a deal to bring in another winger.

Could Andrew Ladd be called upon to fill a possible void if Bergfors holds out? Sure, sure. The former Blackhawk has netted 32 goals, 87 overall points and was a +28 in the past two seasons in Chicago. As an added bonus, he’s played in all 164 games during that time as well, so health issue doubts don’t circle around him.

Boris Valabik may find the Thrashers blueline too crowded if Dustin Byfuglien plays defense (AP photo/Gregory Smith)

Boris Valabik may find the Thrashers blueline too crowded if Dustin Byfuglien plays defense (AP photo/Gregory Smith)

But I’m looking for Ladd to join Slater and Fredrik Modin/Spencer Machacek/Fredrik Pettersson on the third line, depending on who impresses most during training camp and preseason. If so…coupled with a possible fourth line of Patrice Cormier, Ben Eager and Eric Boulton…then your odd man out might just be Chris Thorburn, who could then be used as trade bait.

Now, if Big Buff is tapped to play back, then that creates a bit of a crowd on the blueline. He would join Ron Hainsey, Toby Enstrom, Zach Bogosian, Johnny Oduya, Brent Sopel and Boris Valabik there. That’s seven, leaving no room at the inn for Arturs Kulda.

I don’t know about you, but I want Kulda up here this fall.

Somehow, I think Dudley and Co. do too. If Byfuglien does indeed wind up joining the Thrashers’ defensive corps, I would imagine it was because the team was able to package up Valabik with [insert name of any of the handful of two-way players that have been acquired recently here] to bring in that much sought after top-six forward.

I’m not ‘down’ on Boris, mind you. I see a lot of upside to his game…heck, there is a lot of up side that comes in a 6’-7” 245 lb frame. Plus, he’s also cut down on his propensity to commit the untimely penalty. During last year’s injury-shortened season, he earned 36 penalty minutes in 23 games played, (1.56 PIM per game). This is an improvement on the 2.64 PIM per game the year before that and 6 PIM per game during seven games played in the 2006-07 season.

Do the Thrashers need to add another top-six forward to the roster?

  • Yes! They're doomed without it (53%, 80 Votes)
  • Maybe. If the price is right (41%, 62 Votes)
  • No! They look good 'as is' (6%, 8 Votes)

Total Voters: 150

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But if given the choice between Valabik and Kulda right now…I’d choose Kulda.

So returning to the question of if we need another top-six forward, my answer is “it depends”. If a deal could be made to procure one at the cost of a Boris Valabik and/or Chris Thorburn along with…oh, say…a Nigel Dawes or Patrick Rissmiller type of player, then I think Dudley would entertain the discussion. Same true if a deal can be worked to ship Bergfors to a place he’s be happy to ink a deal with in return for a signed winger of similar quality.

But if any the price is too high… I’d venture to guess they’d keep Buff on the forward line while Kulda and Valabik compete with Freddy Meyer to round out the seven man defensive group. Then allow prospects like Cormier, Machacek and Pettersson to do battle with Dawes for the remaining spots on the forward lines.

That should make for a very interesting training camp.

181 comments Add your comment

Red Light

September 10th, 2010
2:50 pm

glovesave29

I’m loading up the combine with extra grain for the Nebraska ladies!

kracker

September 10th, 2010
2:53 pm

Brendan, yes on NJ as being a possible trading partner for Bergfors’ RFA rights. Lou already knows him and Bergfors knows the Devils organization. So Bergy being RFA probably won’t really matter, they can deal as if Bergfors was under contract to Atlanta.

Now, Lou, about Travis Zajac….

[For my part, trading Bergfors for Zajac helps at center but hurts us at the wing, where we are a little thin on proven scorers.]

GaVaHokie

September 10th, 2010
2:54 pm

JF… wow, having a bad day?

Take a writing class or something… it’s typical PR writing. You’ll notice the order of each person was in order of hierachy. President->GM->Coach->Goalie… you read into things too much.

… you guys will find conspiracy in anything.

Waddell’s self-proclaimed duty (as President) was to work on Marketing.

Smoothie

September 10th, 2010
2:58 pm

Can we get some billboards with Buff in a Thrashers jersey laying out Pronger (photoshopped of course)?? That would be fun…and Kaner laying out Cookie would be quite fantastic as well. Hey, we’re supposed to be “brutally brutal” or something like that. ;-)

Spud Webb

September 10th, 2010
3:01 pm

yes, I will be there at 10:45 holding the door for you redlight! First round is on me. See you there.

Red Light

September 10th, 2010
3:13 pm

Good deal Spud. Just the first round?

Spud Webb

September 10th, 2010
3:17 pm

I’m a working man!!!!! kid on the way, playtime is over. ahhahaahhahaha!! Plus you drink the hard stuff, I drink PBR or Molsen!!

GaVaHokie

September 10th, 2010
3:17 pm

Perhaps it’s time to go back and revisit Waddell’s words from early this summer… again, I see no mystery.

http://video.thrashers.nhl.com/videocenter/console?catid=656&id=66143

glovesave29

September 10th, 2010
3:23 pm

Smoothie – have the ad campaign of clips of the opponents bloodied and bruised all to the tune of “Dont come around here no more”?

RL – a million comments come to mind, but none that will make it past the censor in m head!

Zombie Steve

September 10th, 2010
3:30 pm

I like Little at center as well – he’s much more mobile than Antro. Furthermore, a change of scenery might just be what he needs to get him out of his slump.

Concerning Big Buff – I predict we’ll see him on the blueline the first half of the season, only to get moved up to forward towards the 2nd half; just like in Chicago last year.

Rawhide

September 10th, 2010
3:32 pm

Spudster – When is the due date for the tax exemption??

GaVaHokie

September 10th, 2010
3:36 pm

Zombie Steve… so are you saying you like “Little in the Middle but you got Buff back?”

GaVaHokie

September 10th, 2010
3:37 pm

… “I like Big Buff and I cannot lie, those other brothers can’t deny.”

Smoothie

September 10th, 2010
3:41 pm

Hokie, just don’t change that ‘b’ to a ‘m’…well, that’s certainly a personal preference, but nevermind! ;-)

Spud Webb

September 10th, 2010
3:48 pm

Not till Febuary Bill!!

GaVaHokie

September 10th, 2010
3:48 pm

Smoothie… in that context, I prefer shaven… so would that be ‘buffed’?

Cogliano agrees to 1 year $1 million… could we see similar for Bergfors?

Alan R.

September 10th, 2010
3:51 pm

Hokie: “And when he sticks his big round thing in another goalie’s face, everyone gets sprung” …?

Brendan

September 10th, 2010
3:57 pm

Alan R., that was a good find on the OT winner by Biff Buff. What a glorious goal. Looks like he’ll have to do those end-to-end rushes from his defensive position.

Smoothie

September 10th, 2010
3:58 pm

Wow, that seems like a pittance for Cogliano!! Take note Bergy, you have NO leverage. He should be thrilled if we offer him 2 yrs, $4.5 M.

And yes, shaven, not stirred.

Zombie Steve

September 10th, 2010
4:05 pm

Hokie – thanks for getting that Sir Mixalot joke outta the way; we all knew someone was going to get busted out eventually!

So Buff is already confirmed back on D….I gotta catch up on the news here!

With this move, does anyone think that Dud’s and company already have plans in motion to lighten our load of defensemen via trade?

GaVaHokie

September 10th, 2010
4:09 pm

Where did we hear that Bergie was willing to take less for a short term deal, but wanted more in a long term deal?

… was that a Flames comment, or did we hear it somewhere else?

Hockey Biltong

September 10th, 2010
4:13 pm

Agreed with you Thrashy Thrash, about Buf.
Dawes takes Reasoners place, to answer anothers question.
Think one more trade is in place for a forward or center.

Flagstaff

September 10th, 2010
4:15 pm

Me speaking, I think that they do need a top-6 (hell, top 3) forward. Yet I think that this is unlikely (though not impossible) as Dudley has said that he is confident as he is happy with the roster as it is.

GaVaHokie

September 10th, 2010
4:16 pm

Zombie… I’ll answer your question by presenting the 2010-11 Chicago Wolves defense. :) …I personally think anybody who signed a two-way deal has sealed their fate.

Kulda Postma
Welch Meyers
Sifers Zubarev

Brendan

September 10th, 2010
4:17 pm

Smoothie, nice find on the Byfuglien natural trick. I hope he can replicate that kind of success on the Thrashers blueline. I guess we won’t know until they play the games. But I’d rather see Big Buff in a top six forward role.

Brendan

September 10th, 2010
4:18 pm

Glovesave29 & Kracker, I’m a fool to dream. But I want Travis Zajac in Thrasher blue. I’d prefer Parise, but that’s some non-sense talk right there, on my part.

GaVaHokie

September 10th, 2010
4:21 pm

I sense we’re getting close to a Bergfors signing… the RFA’s are quickly getting locked up.

Peter Mueller agrees to terms with Colorado on a two-year deal, $1.5M and $2.5M.

World Be Free

September 10th, 2010
4:30 pm

GaVa-Cogliono just signed too-another RFA finally locked up

Smoothie

September 10th, 2010
4:30 pm

C’mon Bergy, the market is set and you’re reaching if you think you’re worth more than $2.5 M in the next couple of years. At the age of 25, maybe, but not yet as a relatively unproven 23 y/o. Just because you replaced Kovy doesn’t mean you’re a top-line forward just yet. You still have to beat out Kaner, Little and even Pevs if Ramsay wants to move Antro back to the wing.

Slumdog Slogan-aire

September 10th, 2010
4:48 pm

The best marketing slogan would be “Let’s be brutally honest about the Thrashers folks”

Year One: 1999-00
“Lets be brutally honest about the Thrashers folks, playing with this roster was like asking Rosie O’Donnell to win the Miss Universe title.”

Year Two: 2000-01
“Lets be brutally honest about the Thrashers folks, when Waddell acquired Adam Burt, his crack scouting staff told him he was signing Batman (Adam West) and Robin (Burt Ward).

Year Three: 2001-02
“Lets be brutally honest about the Thrashers folks, 2001-02 attendance was so bad ushers were instructed to take roll call.”

Year Four: 2002-03
“Lets be brutally honest about the Thrashers folks, second-year pro Ilya Kovalchuk scored 38 goals and surrendered 78 by himself, and management suckered Bob Hartley into taking the coaching job.”

Year Five: 2003-04
“Lets be brutally honest about the Thrashers folks, the NHL awarded Atlanta the soon-to-be-canceled All-Star game, AOL Time Warner extended the olive branch to the “Eight Wonders of the World” just one day before April Fools Day, and then ASG bought the team and stared at an empty hockey arena for 19 months.” So long five-year plan, hello lock-out.

Year Five: 2004-05
“Lets be brutally honest about the Thrashers folks, this was the team’s most successful season.”

Year Six: 2005-06
“Lets be brutally honest about the Thrashers folks, the goaltending situation was so bad after losing Pasi Nurminen and Kari Lehtonen to injury, the team asked 75-year old Gump Worsley to come out of retirement.

Year Seven: 2006-07
“Lets be brutally honest about the Thrashers folks, the team won the Southeast Division by four points, outscored opponents by a collective one goal over 82 games, and teased its fans with its first playoff appearance.”

Year Eight: 2007-08
“Lets be brutally honest about the Thrashers folks, it was business as usual at Philips Arena as the team was eliminated from the playoffs when Marian Hossa and Pascal Dupuis left for Pittsburgh on Feb. 26, despite trailing the division-leading Canes by only 7 points prior to the trade.”

Year Nine: 2008-09
“Lets be brutally honest about the Thrashers folks, were it not for a 12-6 run to close out the regular season, assistant GM Rick Dudley might not have taken the job.”

Year Ten: 2009-10
“Lets be brutally honest about the Thrashers folks, Ilya Kovalchuk never intended to sign here no matter what the offer was!”

Year Eleven: 2010-11
“Lets be brutally honest about the Thrashers folks, while the front office has been shuffled around, until the Eight Wonders are committed to winning and don’t allow — the owner-less Coyotes, a market (Nashville) that’s one-quarter of its size, and the other four Southeast division teams — to outspend them in total payroll, and they don’t continue to depend upon revenue sharing to lessen their losses, you can expect similar results.”

Rawhide

September 10th, 2010
5:07 pm

This has nothing to do with today’s topic…or the Thrashers…or hockey. But I found this to be quite funny. I find it funny because I detest the “chest thumpers” in professional sports.

Here’s a soccer…excuse me, football…goalie whose chest thumping led to a bad case of premature celebration.

—> Look see for yourself <—

Brendan

September 10th, 2010
5:12 pm

I don’t especially think Bergfors wants to miss camp. If true, he’ll either re-sign, or get traded. And soon.

Re: Waddell. Heavy sigh. Look, the guy didn’t do anything to justify still being here. And the best way to turn the corner is to remove all traces of him. This way, every last employee knows it’s a NEW day. But, that hasn’t happened. And, probably, until it does … fans will think every bad decision is a Waddell decision and every good decision is Dudley, getting his way. I happen to believe that it was Dudley’s decision to want to play Byfuglien on defense. I can’t prove anything. It’s just a thought. I’m less confident that it was Waddell who told Dudley, play him on defense. But, I don’t know how the inner machinations of the offices of the Atlanta Spirit operate. All I can do is speculate, without facts to support it. What was explained to me, in the AJC anyway, is that Waddell had budgetary oversight over the Thrashers (Hawks,too?), and that Dudley ultimately answers to Waddell. Which, to me, prompts the question, “Who’s really in charge?” It was likewise explained to me, at Dudley’s first hiring, that hockey decisions are exclusively Rick’s, and that Waddell just approves a budget. Meaning? Well, if Dudley wants to raid the Devils and Blackhawks, he’s free to do so, provided he keeps the budget under $53 milllion. Or whatever it will happen to be. Later on, we heard Waddell say that he’s intricately involved in roster decisions, side by side with Dudley. Basically, that they collectively brainstorm. And that, ultimately, deals don’t get done without his consent. Or words to this effect.

Personally, I don’t think Don Waddell is a horrible human being. I think his heart is usually in the right place. He’s just a guy who didn’t have a lot of resources to work with in the first place, and couldn’t make it work, even if he did. He tried, though. I do believe that he TRIED his very best. He had horrible working conditions. And I’m sorry for that. No GM should have to endure the working conditions Waddell endured. But that still doesn’t absolve everything. I’ll never believe that, in 2005, any member of the AS, LLC could positively identify Devon Setoguchi in a police lineup. Owners don’t draft. Owners don’t trade. Owners set the budget, though. It’s their money. They might be as involved as saying, “Go get a Defenseman Free Agent, or trade for one.” If that person turns out to be Alexei Zhitnik, then it is what it is. If the owners read some Hockey News article saying Atlanta doesn’t have a centerman with grit that can win faceoffs, the poor GM might get marching orders to go fill that void. If the result is Bobby Holik on a 3-year deal, then it is what it is. Personally, I cannot speak to sports team ownership. I have no experience. But I know this much. If I’m giving someone my personal money, I expect results to come from it. I want playoff revenue. And I’m really not interested in excuses, other than … that I didn’t provide enough money to make it happen. In which case, I’ve got to evaluate how much more green I’m willing to spend, to make it happen. And/or, if I’ve got the right decision-maker at the helm. But, that’s just meee talking.

I don’t really know how well Waddell’s comments were received by Dudley or other members of the Thrashers ownership and staff. There is, of course, the possibility that he was fibbing about the level of his involvement. Imagine a person with a noticeably thick, swarthy middle eastern accent. And they are speaking to you in English. And then, they ask, “I must sound British to you, since I studied in London.” You turn to your buddy, girlfriend, spouse, significant other, and cringe, while recognizing, at the same time, that you are now expected to provide a ’sugarcoated’ response. Or, at a bare bones minimum, nod of acknowledgement.

Brendan

September 10th, 2010
5:16 pm

Ummn, perhaps as Dudley read that Waddell interview in the AJC, he was shaking his head. But who’s the first to go public that his comments weren’t exacly truthful? Which, again, might point a person to ask, “So, who’s really in charge?” Enough of this, though. I think you all know how and why Waddell is not so favorably regarded by many hockey fans in Atlanta.

Brendan

September 10th, 2010
5:28 pm

Let’s be brutally honest, , the ownership of the Atlanta Thrashers isn’t committed to winning.

Twisted Wrister

September 10th, 2010
6:28 pm

The ASG:

So Brutal, the Smith Family Could Do Better.

kracker

September 10th, 2010
6:38 pm

ooouh TW, that is bad!

Someone send that to marketing

kracker

September 10th, 2010
7:44 pm

Oh foooo! There is a ref riff? I had no idea.

brysonsdad THN.com has learned NHL has approached ECHL officials as replacements for NHL’s referees & linesmen in labor dispute http://ow.ly/2CzyN

Chris

September 10th, 2010
8:17 pm

Buf is prob playing D, I think he will end up moving to forward, But if not it will be
Berg-antro-litts
Kane- Pevs- Ladd
Dawes- Slater- Thorburn
Eager- Cormier- Modin

There is no way Boulton plays over Thorburn, NO WAY, even ask Duds as he is very high on Thorsy. And as for Boone7’s comments that antro and Buf are the only top 6 proven talent, are you kidding me? Antro is, Buf is not. Buf is a 3rd line player that had 1 good playoff with Kane and Toews, Little had 31 goals, I would say he is closer to a top 6 player, and 1 more good season out of pevs and hes a proven top 6, same with Bergfors. Once buf moves to forward, which i no will happen lines will be,

Berg- Antro- Little
Kane- Pevs- Buf/ladd
ladd/buff- slater- thorburn
Eager- cormier- Modin
Boulton/Daws
Another top 6 forward would be great, but do not just go looking for the sake of it, if a team is willing to trade on for defenceman/prospects/draft picks then yes im down for it. Look at Avalanche and Coyotes of last year, we have prob better team on paper then they both had, hard work and grit/youth and a bit of luck and they both did amazing, so can we.

kracker

September 10th, 2010
8:25 pm

kuklaskorner RT @phoenixcoyotes: Coyotes Invite Hnidy to Training Camp for Tryout http://bit.ly/c8tD6c

Hnidy is still kickin’

GaVaHokie

September 10th, 2010
9:40 pm

Fedetenko is a camp tryout for NYR… bizarre.

Brendan

September 10th, 2010
10:07 pm

I hope Hnidy and Fedotenko both make it to the NHL this year. When Rawhide asked us to name our best six defensemen ever, I think I list Hnidy in my count.

Brendan

September 10th, 2010
10:12 pm

Chris, you don’t think Ben Eager is going to find a way out of here, in a package deal trade?

R. Stroz

September 10th, 2010
10:18 pm

Tom

September 10th, 2010
10:42 pm

I will be the contrarian here and say the moving Buff to defense is a good move. He has the history as a defenseman. He has shown that he does not have the drive to score regularly in the regular season.

And here is the kicker, on the power play Buff is still able to move in front of the net and do the voodoo he do so well as we saw in the Stanley Cup playoffs last year.

I doubt the move to defense is being done against his wishes. Buff must want to return to his natural position and if he does well he will get one heck of a payday for his next contract.

Add into the opportunity to get 1st team Powerplay minutes in front of the goal and Dudley and Ramsey are not going to piss of the big guy.

So for me this could be a great move for the Thrashers.

Tom

September 10th, 2010
10:43 pm

Oh, and WTF, I go to a conference for a day and there is a new post with 145 comments. This blog is going to rival the Braves for volume if we continue this trajectory.

World Be Free

September 10th, 2010
10:51 pm

2 players of interest still out there-
Ryan Johnson and Marek Svatos

Brendan

September 10th, 2010
10:55 pm

R.Stroz, that was an interesting read. The article left off Johnny Oduya, from the list of Thrashers of African lineage.

Brendan

September 10th, 2010
11:00 pm

Tom, where you you pair Big Buff? With Enstrom? With Hainsey? Bogosian? Oduya? 1st pairing, 2nd, or 3rd, maybe with Valabik? Doesn’t this move slam the door on Kulda and Postma? At least for another year.

Tom

September 10th, 2010
11:45 pm

Brendan, I would probably have him start the season on the 3rd line with Bogosian. But I would also have the 2 guys on the first team powerplay, This would protect their minutes a bit, allow the 2 to develop some chemistry, and then move them up the ladder as time goes by.

If, and it is a big if, Buff is as good a D-man as Ramsey and Dudley feel he is, then he should be a top pair guy. Bogo should also be a top pair guy as he develops so the combination could be set for the playoff run and they boys get their 23-25 minutes a game at the end of the season.

This theory would allow the Killer B’s (officially claiming the name now) to develop the chemistry that is needed to be a top level defensive pair.

Brendan, am I completely off base?

Tom

September 10th, 2010
11:50 pm

I think Kulda and Postma would be called up when we have some injuries and Valabek is officially designated as trade bait.

Enstrom – Hainsey
Sopel – Oduya
Bogo – Buff

Kulda