Thrashers newcomers have ‘been there, done that’

So what do Jimmy Slater and Eric Boulton have in common? Well for one thing, they are the only two players that remain on the Thrashers 2007 playoff roster. The pair were held without a goal or assists in the four game sweep to the Rangers and were a combined –3.

Since then, we’ve seen the other twenty or so players depart Thrasherville, including Ilya Kovalchuk, Slava Kozlov, Kari Lehtonen and Garnet Exelby in the last 14 months.

But Boulton and Slater will be surrounded this season by a number of players who have “been there, done that” in regards to the Stanley Cup Playoffs… a total of 365 collective NHL playoff games in fact. Add that to the 8 between Bolts and Slates, and what you have a roster that could represent a grand total of 373 NHL playoff games worth of experience.

Upon learning that number, I set out to see if there were any rosters of Thrashers-past that compared to the one assembled now. To be honest, I thought I would have to make my way back four or five years in order to find a squad with near as many playoff games under their collective belts…back to the 2005-06 or 2006-07 teams that consisted of Marian Hossa, Peter Bondra, Greg DeVries, Nic Havelid and Kozlov just to name a few.

As it turns out, I only had to go back twelve months.

The Thrashers entered last season with a group of players that had suited up for 370 NHL playoff games in their careers. And that’s not counting the two that Kari Lehtonen started in 2007 given the fact that Kari began last season on injured reserve. He did not play in a single game for Atlanta before being traded to Dallas in January.

However, almost one-third of those 370 games belonged to just one player, Slava Kozlov who played in 118 during his long NHL career. All but four of which came while wearing Detroit’s red winged wheel. Maxim Afinogenov and Pavel Kubina took with them another 87 career playoff appearances.

Now the Thrashers’ leader in playoff game experience is defenseman Brent Sopel with 64. Then there is Freddy Modin with 57 and Andrew Ladd with 53. Add in Dustin Byfuglien’s 39 playoff appearance, Ben Eager’s 37, Nic Antropov’s 35 and Chris Rissmiller’s 30, and you can see the Thrashers have a decent amount of players who have “been there, done that” when it comes to participating in the annual hunt for Lord Stanley’s Cup.

Buff, Ben and Brent won the Stanley Cup just last June along with Ladd. For Ladd it was the second time skating the Cup, his first being in 2006 with the Carolina Hurricanes. Freddy Modin was a part of the 2004 Cup winning Tampa Bay Lightning, making it a total of five Thrashers players who not only have “been, there, done that” but have their name etched upon the Cup to show it.

Brent Sopel kissed the Stanley Cup last June. His 64 career NHL playoff games now leads all others on the Thrashers roster (AP Photo)

Brent Sopel kissed the Stanley Cup last June. His 64 career NHL playoff games now leads all others on the Thrashers roster (AP Photo)

Another big difference can be found behind the bench. New head coach Craig Ramsay has experienced not only 89 playoff games as a player, but he’s also seen significant action as an assistant coach for NHL teams in the playoffs. He sipped Champagne from the Cup in 2004 along with Modin and the rest of the Lightning.

Last year the Thrashers had a coach who had played in 37 NHL postseason games. Prior to that they had a coach in Bob Hartley who had coached the Colorado Avalanche to a Stanley Cup championship in 2001. But this will be the first time they have ever had a bench boss who has played in and coached during the NHL playoffs. They also have an associate coach, John Torchetti, who won an NHL championship, coming to Thrasherville after last spring’s successful run with Byfuglien, Sopel, Eager, Ladd and the rest of the Chicago Blackhawks.

Also worth mentioning is assistant coach Mike Stothers who played in five NHL playoff games as a member of the Philadelphia Flyers back in the 1980s.

The question is, can this collection of players and coaches who have “been there, done that, got my name on the Cup to show for it” make a difference for those Thrasher players who have not done so yet? Can players like Evander Kane, Zach Bogosian, Toby Enstrom and possibly a handful of rookies like Arturs Kulda and Patrice Cormier benefit from their experiences should the Thrashers find themselves in a playoff push or…dare I mention it…playing past the scheduled 82 games?

These are the answers that will be revealed as the Thrashers 11th season finally gets underway next month. But going into it, the organization is deeper than it’s ever been in regards to those bringing with them previous experience…and success… playing in games 83 and beyond, both at the playing level as well as coaching.

And that certainly can’t hurt.

162 comments Add your comment

R. Stroz

September 13th, 2010
8:25 am

World Be Free

September 13th, 2010
8:29 am

It should also be noted that Ramsay was a good playoff performer. What about Dudley’s playoff numbers as a player and coach? Nice to have a team with Stanley Cup rings. They know how to get to the post season and make an impact at money time. No promises, but it sure does not hurt our chances this season.

J.B.

September 13th, 2010
8:52 am

Pierre LeBrun of ESPN just tweeted that Bergfors is close to re-signing.

waffleboy

September 13th, 2010
8:53 am

I felt like team depth wasn’t an issue last year. We simply did not have the skill level on our top 2 lines to be competitive. We need another top 6 forward to challenge the Caps.

Russian

September 13th, 2010
8:59 am

**to J.B.**
I heard the same news. I hope he will sign today.

Russian

September 13th, 2010
9:01 am

**to waffleboy**
Not only Caps. Tampa will be very strong a nd good team this year. Carolina migth be suprised also.

DWTOO

September 13th, 2010
9:13 am

I’m more worried about Carolina than Tampa. On paper Tampa always looks good. But, they never seem to form the “team” that enables them to suceed. To many individual players not enough teamwork.

Would like to see Bergie signing a multi-year deal. Maybe he’s realized he has the chance to shine here.

DWTOO

September 13th, 2010
9:16 am

See Chris V’s tweet – Bergfors to sign 900,000 deal. Damn, good to have him signed bad that it’s just one year. But, Thrashers do own his rights for a number of years to come. Think he could be a key to the Trash success. He seemed overwhelmed by the trade originally, but, seemed to be comfortable here by the end of the year.

rob

September 13th, 2010
9:19 am

Hopefully this all rubs off on the young guys and reminds everyone what the ultimate goal here is. I know it isn’t the goal of the Octotards, and Dumbwad was “handcuffed” by them, but Duds has the same idiotic owners to deal with and has already gotten things looking better in a short time. Previous success does not gaurantee anything but it certainly can give something to fall back on when things do start to go wrong…..and let’s face it over the course of 82 games, things WILL go wrong!

kracker

September 13th, 2010
9:20 am

Yes, it is good to have Bergfors signed today. I am assuming this deal is done or agreed to, just not announced yet. There was no real doubt that he would sign, but still….it ain’t over till the fat lady signs, er…something like that.

The term and how the payment escalates will be interesting to learn.

kracker

September 13th, 2010
9:27 am

Oh, wow! C Viv thinks the Bergfors contract is for only one year at $900K!!1 ugh Bergy wants to earn a bigger contract, I guess. Well, that’s not so bad if he does just that!

http://blogs.ajc.com/atlanta-thrashers-blog/2010/09/13/ramsay-offense-will-be-team-effort/

Smoothie

September 13th, 2010
9:33 am

I understand that Bergfors still has something to prove in this league as a young scoring winger, but $900k? Uh, Burmie will make more than that this year conceivably with bonus comp. Then again, we’ll prolly low-ball him too on his ELC. Dumb. This is hardly the kind of deal that engenders any long-term goodwill.

Joe Friday

September 13th, 2010
9:38 am

Another 1 year deal? I guess they couldn’t get the Thrashers to cough up big money that they felt he’s worth, so Bergfors and his agent opted to try to bank some numbers this year and then get a large arb. award

Joe Friday

September 13th, 2010
9:39 am

“This is hardly the kind of deal that engenders any long-term goodwill.”

“Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss”

kracker

September 13th, 2010
9:40 am

Smoothie, I think Dudley is changing the climate here: No more over-paying players. That goes for rookies, young vets and apparently FAs also.

If Duds moves work and his teams compete with some success like, for example, the Preds then it’s all good. With a competent GM (IDWT), the Thrashers can/will equal the Preds, with one big advantage: Atlanta > Nashville. Make the Thrashers into a winner and the corporate support should enable the Thrashers to at long last compete with many of the other teams in total salary allocated, FAs attracted (w/o grossly over-paying), etc..

kracker

September 13th, 2010
9:46 am

So we have Berg joining Ladd on the pay-me-later plan. I am good with that – if they can earn the bigger/longer deals.

Duds is smart. He knows there are several more young player contracts on the horizon to be negotiated in the next few years. Start paying Little, Ladd, Bergy big RFA contracts and that trend will never end.

We need bigger corporate support and more playoff $$$ and a full house many more nights before we can compete financially and be tossing out huge RFA contracts, folks.

R. Stroz

September 13th, 2010
9:47 am

The ASG is CHEAP, CHEAP, CHEAP.

The “new management” really knows how to make a negative impression lowballing the “new talent.”

Watch the revolving door continue to go round and round.

Joe Friday

September 13th, 2010
9:49 am

“Start paying Little, Ladd, Bergy big RFA contracts and that trend will never end.”

Continue to not lock up your RFA’s long term and watch them bail out of town as soon as they hit their UFA years, and that trend will never end . . . the smart clubs lock up their core RFAs into their UFA years. Then, there’s the Thrashers

Joe Friday

September 13th, 2010
9:50 am

“Watch the revolving door continue to go round and round.”

Great minds think alike, or sumthin like that, eh Jethro?

R. Stroz

September 13th, 2010
9:51 am

If the organization hadn’t been run into the ground for ten years with no accountability, they might have players that want to stay and reasonable contracts to offer.

This problem is a symptom of ten years of poor management and nepotism.

Jethro

September 13th, 2010
9:51 am

h

September 13th, 2010
9:53 am

it only makes sense to lock up RFAs to longer deals if you can pull in a couple of UFA years as well.

Red Light

September 13th, 2010
9:53 am

The most intriguing stat is that not only do the Thrashers now have the most Cup winners on the roster than any team in the division, but the Caps have NONE!

Caroilna…Staal, Ward, Cole and Larose
Florida…Stillman (2) and Reinprecht
Tampa…Lecavalier, Kubina and St. Louis.

kracker

September 13th, 2010
9:56 am

Kane doing his training camp prep today, via twitter.

EKaneATL9 Golfing today at East Lake.

Joe Friday

September 13th, 2010
9:58 am

“This problem is a symptom of ten years of poor management and nepotism.:

Yep, it’s foolish to expect this club to make better decisions when the decision maker at the top is the same guy that’s been screwing the pooch for 10 years.

Dudley has helped Waddell make better personnel decisions in the past two years, but we’ll continue to be hamstrung until real changes are made at the top.

kracker

September 13th, 2010
10:06 am

Yes, it is as h suggests. You want your long RFA deal to also include 2 or three years of a players UFA eligible years. Just as the Thrashers did with Kovalchuk. Obviously, the team has to look competitive to convince an RFA to sign a long-term deal which eats into his UFA years. In this, it is no different than attracting FAs or keeping your FA eligible players.

No matter if the topic is attracting or retaining players, or attracting fans and support for the team, it always comes back to the same thing in any sport. A team must consistently win more games than it loses. Nothing else matters.

TableHockey

September 13th, 2010
10:11 am

Good read Rawhide – though unless I’m missing the meaning there is a typo: “Add in Dustin Byfuglien’s 39 layoff appearance”

Red Light

September 13th, 2010
10:20 am

Until arbiters learn how to evaluate performance, placing a future contract in the hands of one of those (such as the one that forced the Thrashers into dumping MacArthur, nice return for the 3rd and 4th round picks, eh?) knuckleheads isn’t good business. The point is to avoid player-elected arbitration, and not allowing players to walk away without compensation. So, in a perfect world, you lock up an RFA into the first couple of potential UFA seasons, but if you can’t then every year you have to go through these machinations.

Obviously, Dudley and his cohorts don’t think Bergfors is worthy of a five-year deal yet. Same with Little, same with Ladd, and Bogo, Kane, Byfuglien and Pavelec all are going to put us through this again within the next three seasons, and that’s why arbitration can be dangerous.

If you negotiate from a position of weakness year-in and year-out, you might win a few battles with agents but you won’t win them all. And, what happens when this CBA is tossed out in two years and you have a list of 10 free agents? Not sure I’d want to be in that scenario.

Smoothie

September 13th, 2010
10:21 am

“Smoothie, I think Dudley is changing the climate here: No more over-paying players. That goes for rookies, young vets and apparently FAs also.”

kracker – I certainly agree that the culture here must be changed, but when the actions of the folks in the front-office don’t change and they continue to under-value talented players (who are supposedly important pieces to the puzzle for the future) and there by tick them off in the process, how is the organization moving forward in a positive direction?

If Bergfors has been overtly disgruntled since he stepped foot in the locker-room, then perhaps this is a good strategy as you certainly don’t want a cancer like that polluting the whole room and then get rewarded for it with an inflated deal. But his market value is FAR from $900k! He should be getting at least $1.5 M as that is slightly more than MacArthur made and as we know the Thrashers felt that was all he was worth. No way that Bergfors, if cut tomorrow, wouldn’t be claimed off of waivers at $1.5 M…bargain deal for sure.

BTW, if Kaner and Bogo only hit say, 1/2 of their bonuses, the team is still dangerously close to the Salary Cap floor of $43.4 M (do I have that number right?). I’ve added up all of their highest salaries for the “top 22″ veterans and youngsters who are locks and I only get $43.67 M using 1/2 of the bonus compensation for those two.

h

September 13th, 2010
10:27 am

Agreed Kracker. Winning doesn’t solve everything, but it solves alot of things, or at least helps make personnel decisions a little easier. I think you need to see a young player give you at least 2 consecutive very good seasons before you consider signing him to a long term deal. However, you also have to look into the future and make sure you don’t have several top players up for renewals in the same year or you are forced to make trades.

Smoothie

September 13th, 2010
10:28 am

*I’ve added up all of their highest salaries for the “top 22″ veterans and youngsters who are locks and I only get $43.67 M

I’m sorry, correction, I only get $43.39 and that’s even when I add in Nigel Dawes as the 14th forward at $600k. Oh yeah, this number includes the $1.4 M cap hit for Brashear’s buy-out as well as Rismiller on the roster as a 4th line winger. Someone may still get traded and his name rhymes with Bergfors.

World Be Free

September 13th, 2010
10:37 am

I’ll just be happy when the guys is signed. Can’t worry about the other things right now, maybe later.

h

September 13th, 2010
10:38 am

Consider this as well….I wonder if Duds told Bergfors’ agent he’d trade him before season starts but it would have to be in exchange for a top 6 forward on a team needing a salary dump, so it might only work if his salary was low enough……I know…..maybe reading too much into this, but it wouldn’t surprise me. I am surprised that the contract is only for $900K. Isn’t he worth at least $1.25M?

Smoothie

September 13th, 2010
10:43 am

h – he’s worth at least that if not a little more. The market value was set pretty well with the recent RFA signings although I guess his deal isn’t much different than the wait-and-see contract for Andrew Coglinao ($1 M for 1 year). But last time I checked, we don’t have Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle waiting in the wings.

Joe Friday

September 13th, 2010
10:46 am

“I wonder if Duds told Bergfors’ agent he’d trade him before season starts but it would have to be in exchange for a top 6 forward on a team needing a salary dump, so it might only work if his salary was low enough”

You know, this is logical and the only thing that would make sense here. The inane rambling that we’re not going to overpay players is simply that, inane. As Red Light clearly stated it’s just bad business to put next year’s contract in the hands of an arbiter. And if we’re going to play Bergfors on the top line this year, he’s going to put up plenty of points and get $4m plus awarded to him for next year.

So either Dudley is being wiley here and they did sign him low to be able to trade him to someone that needs cap relief but also needs a player to fill out their lineup so he can’t cost much, or our management is incompetent (and frankly, it’s 50/50 on which one is the case here).

Darkhorse

September 13th, 2010
10:47 am

Wasn’t last year’s budget somewhere around 49.5-50.5 mil for most of the year? If your #s are close to correct Smoothie, and the rumors are somewhat acurate that the ASG is mandating a win now order to Dudley, even with the bonuses, then there’s still some room to be made for someone before camp ends. Disappointed the Bergfors deal was only for a year. Is he still an RFA after this year?

Also, Rawhide whatever happened to the rumor of potential investors buying into the Thrashers? That’s been a few months ago and there was some chatter……then nothing. Any clue what the deal was?

TableHockey

September 13th, 2010
10:47 am

Good point H. I haven’t been on Cap geek to look at the Devils current condition since the Kovy deal was approved. I’m sure they need to move salary and would love to have Bergfors back. Maybe they would be a good trade partner for a top 6 guy.

Tony C.

September 13th, 2010
10:47 am

I know it’s been mentioned already but; from twitter:

“”The Blueland Chronicle >> BERGFORS WILL RETURN http://buzztap.com/-xhVH3B “”

Tony C.

September 13th, 2010
10:49 am

forgot to say: Nice work Mort

kracker

September 13th, 2010
10:51 am

LOL We are all trying to read the tea leaves through a very fogged up shower curtain. It can’t be done. We probably have at best half the relavent information about the circumstances of any given player’s situation. It is still fun to speculate though.

Winning is the number one constant to establish here in Atlanta. The only way to do that, especially on an underfunded team, is with a competent GM that can make more good decisions than he makes bad decisions. Add in some luck and good corporate support. But, make no mistake, it is like I said on C Viv’s blog, no young RFA is going to dictate terms to Ken Holland. It must be the same with Dudley.

Tom

September 13th, 2010
10:58 am

Hey Stroz, speaking of nepotism, where did our 9 year goalie coach Steve Weeks end up this season?

Rhytnmpenguin

September 13th, 2010
11:01 am

Nice analogy kracker. Tea leaves and a foggy shower curtain! Ha Ha Ha =)

Jack

September 13th, 2010
11:01 am

Tom I dint think he was picked up as of yet.

Tony C.

September 13th, 2010
11:01 am

Well whatever mgmt has up their collective sleeve, according to capgeek we’ve got just under $18M in cap room still even factoring in the reported $900K for Bergfors (I personally was looking for 2-years at 1.5M-1.8M)!!! I’m not going to be a bit surprised if there’s not a trade where we take on the last year or two of a questionable contract in return for a proven 25-30 goal scorer.

Joe Friday

September 13th, 2010
11:02 am

“no young RFA is going to dictate terms to Ken Holland.”

Uh, Holland is the guy that locks up his young RFAs, he’s the antithesis of what’s being done here . . .

Tony C.

September 13th, 2010
11:04 am

Trixie would you mind cleaning that up? I’ve got too much emphasis going on there! also, who all is going to the scrimmage tomorrow?

Smoothie

September 13th, 2010
11:09 am

Not so sweet tweet from Pierre LeBrun: “Bergfors’s agent J.P. Barry of CAA Sports confirms his client Bergfors has agreed to one-year, $900,000 deal with Thrash”

So there you have it, the low-balling is official. Something is not right. This reeks of a future trade. Either Dudley is absolutely brilliant in paying him low to make him more attractive in a trade with a Boston, New Jersey, Vancouver etc or he is completely FOS with respect to what he said about paying someone their value if they were to be waived and claimed tomorrow.

Smoothie

September 13th, 2010
11:17 am

“If your #s are close to correct Smoothie, and the rumors are somewhat acurate that the ASG is mandating a win now order to Dudley, even with the bonuses, then there’s still some room to be made for someone before camp ends”

I can assure you that my Excel spreadsheet that tracks salaries does not lie. I like to keep up with this crap so I can reference things easily when I write blog entries for my own blog. But aside from that, even if we end up on the hook for 75% of the bonuses due for Bogo and Kaner, we’re going to be hard-pressed to inch up above the floor.

Here are the players I’m using to get to a number of $44.835 (I forgot to include Valabik the last time):

Bergy, Antro, Lits, Kaner (75% bonus), Pevs, Buff, Ladd, Slater, Modin @$800 k, Eager, Cormier (sheer guess), Thorbs, Boults, Burma (36 days and 9-game cup o’ coffee) and Dawes (80% after replacing Burma).

Sopel, Enstrom, Hainsey, Oduya, Bogo (75% bonus), Kulda, Valabik and Brashear’s buy-out ($1.4M), Mason & Pavelec.

Even if you substitute Rismiller’s $1.0 M for Cormier who stands to make $846 k if he sticks the whole year, they would be right at $45 M. But that is dependent upon those bonuses. I don’t think that’s allowed, but perhaps there is some leeway at the start of the season. Wouldn’t that seem like playing with fire for a team that is dependent upon revenue sharing (and spending over the cap floor to earn it)?

Tony C.

September 13th, 2010
11:23 am

I don’t know-it may be that Bergofrs’ camp wanted the term and the money and we’ve seen that management isn’t handing out anything longer than two years this summer-rumor had Bergfors looking for a 4-6 year deal. Maybe it’s something similar to the Ladd deal-both sides are evaluating the other. That being the case, it makes sense that Bergfors/Barry would be willing to accept a “low” (sorry, but $900k just isn’t “low-ball” to me-I know the salaries are skewed but c’mon!) offer as that would allow maximum mobility for the player should he decide that he doesn’t want to be here-$900K is something almost any organization could handle and certainly would for a player with Bergfors ability and potential. Meanwhile it doesn’t make the break-up super painful for Le Thrash when/if Bergfors hits the bricks.

In the meantime, unless Dudley has serious reservations about his durability, I’m thinking we make a strong play for Boston’s Bergeron (would rather have Krejici, but I doubt they’ll let him go). Another idea that cme to me would be for us to send Vancouver Kulda +PTBNL and get Erhoff in return-may not be super attractive, but those boys have themselves right up against it, and pretty much anybody they’d like to move has a NTC/NMC

Rhytnmpenguin

September 13th, 2010
11:25 am

Which indicates that there has to be something in the works.