Dudley doesn’t need to wait for June to use his first round pick

According to the latest weather report, it seems likely that the metro Atlanta area is looking at yet another round of frozen precipitation overnight. What this means of course is that on their way home tonight, the masses will flock to grocery stores and strip the shelves bare of milk and bread. That, plus tomorrow morning local insurance agents busy fielding claims from their clients who went slipping and sliding all over the roads…much like what we’ve seen during previous snow/ice events this winter.

But motorists in and around Atlanta have not been the only ones experiencing slippery conditions this winter. Indeed our Thrashers have been in the process of slip-sliding away from their winning ways of last fall. As of this morning, they we find they have wound up in the ditch with six other teams who currently do not hold a playoff position in the Eastern Conference.

Given the Carolina Hurricanes overtime loss in New Jersey, they now lead the Thrashers by one point and have two more games left on the schedule than have Atlanta. The rattling sound coming from behind is coming from the Buffalo Sabres who, thanks to their 7-4 win over Tampa Bay, are now three points south of us with four games in hand. Also, the Florida Panther remain within scratching distance…just six points behind the Thrashers having played three fewer games.

All this simply adds to the pucker factor that comes along with Atlanta’s current 5-11-5 slide, one that has seen them win only two…count them, one-two… games in regulation since December 20 of last year.

What it also underscores is the fact that Rick Dudley must do something…and quick…if his team is to regain it’s traction necessary to get out of the ditch and again motor down the road towards the playoffs.

Should the Thrashers use their first round draft pick to trade for needed help?

  • YES! If it helps get a proven commidity, do it! (72%, 133 Votes)
  • NO! The first round pick is more important than making the playoffs now! (28%, 53 Votes)

Total Voters: 186

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I past years, anytime the subject of trade deadline deals is breached in these parts, there are many in Thrasherville who quickly pipe up to insist that the organization should not “trade away the future” buy including certain prospects or the first round pick in the upcoming summer’s draft. While that’s made a great deal of sense in the past, I don’t necessarily hold fast to that rule now. As such, if a deal were to be had that could bring in much-needed help for the Thrashers…a top-six winger and/or help on the blueline…and in the package heading the other was is included our first round pick in June, I would have absolutely no problem with Dudley & Co pulling the trigger on it.

I my view, the Thrashers as an organization simply have to make the playoffs this season…or at least put forward every effort to do so. Eleven seasons coming and going with but one foray into the postseason and no wins to show for it will makes for quite a cranky fan base. And while most level-headed types out there understand that making moves are no guarantee of success in and of themselves, it’s clear that doing nothing at this time will almost certainly guarantee failure…again.

I know…I know…some of you are afraid that we might spend too much of our future currency for what amounts for a spring rental or that we’ll get “Zhitnik-ed” again. This is obviously understandable given this franchise is still walking with a limp from what happened to us around this time in 2007. But Rick Dudley is not Don Waddell and, as such, I have tried to put aside the fears of being burned once again by way of the GM pushing the panic button. However, I will note that any such trade package that involving our first-round draft pick should preferably be used to procure a player(s) who are signed at least through next season…or at the very least, one who will be an RFA this summer.

Regardless, standing pat prior to the trade deadline will simply not do…unless one is actually of the belief that the likes of Tim Stapleton, Fredrik Modin are the answer here. Given Zach Bogosian’s play for the better part of this year, one might easily add his name to that list as well.

What doing nothing of real consequence over the next two and a half weeks will also ensure is that Philips Arena will continue to look more and more like what the bread and milk aisles at Publix does just prior to the snow falling… empty and barren.

Of course, the same could be said of the words spoken by Bruce Levenson during previous town hall meetings in regards where the franchise finds itself and his appreciation of the paying customer’ concerns …but I digress.

In short, while first round draft picks are nice to have…especially when they come so early on…this time around the GM needs to be more concerned about not “trading away the present in light of the future” than the other way around. This Thrashers organ-I-zation has used up its grace period with their fans and their collective patience has met it’s end waiting for a future that seemingly never materializes. It’s time for those in charge to give them a new sense of hope. And I’m not talking hope for the “future”… but hope for the “now”.

If you want to think of it this way, by trading the first-rounder for a proven commodity, and it helps propel this team into the playoffs, then that’s a good way of using that pick without having to wait until this summer to do so. But doing nothing and possibly finishing south of the playoff line for the fourth year in a row and tenth time in eleven seasons… well, all that will get you is this…

pointing to the empty milk and bread aisle after it’s been emptied by the pre-snow panic

And that’s the way Philips Arena will look…snow or no snow…for a very long time.

By: Bill Tiller – AJC.com Thrashers Fan Blog

200 comments Add your comment

Danny Heatley

February 9th, 2011
5:59 pm

I’ve grown since then and opted for a second ‘D’.

Danny Heatley

February 9th, 2011
5:59 pm

I mean n… Pascal is teasing me now…

Niclas Bergfors

February 9th, 2011
6:12 pm

Can I join this list?

Freddy Modin

February 9th, 2011
6:14 pm

Who would want us, Nic?

Big Daddy Dave

February 9th, 2011
6:22 pm

This team is beat and the season shot. Even if by some miracle they make the playoffs, the inconsistencies will guarantee a first round exit. Don’t waste a draft pick. Of course at this point it looks like Stamkos could have prevented this debacle of a team.

Big Daddy Dave

February 9th, 2011
6:23 pm

Correction,”…could NOT have prevented”

LAC

February 9th, 2011
8:27 pm

Bill, can you stop this idiot from posting all this CRAP about being past players, and people talk about Mr.Sage ?????

Puckhead

February 9th, 2011
10:06 pm

Boston- Montreal 157 penalty minutes I wish we played with Boston’s toughness. It would make the losses easier to take and the team would have a personality that would be welcomed in Atlanta.

World Be Free

February 9th, 2011
10:52 pm

The Boston-Montreal game was great! Old time hockey! Cam Nealy almost jumped out of the press box, on to the ice to knock some heads. Habs-Broones games are always exciting. I was snowed in Boston in 1987 and made my way down to the Gaaarden for Habs-Brunes games with 6,000 other drunks. Goals, hits, fights reminded me of what hockey used to be like before the refs started calling all this garbage. , The big, bad Bruins are back.

Great game Puckhead!

Former Thrasher (and sabres) steve Shileds was the best pure fighting goalie over the last 30 years. Steve could drop ‘em, too bad he had trouble stopping pucks.

World Be Free

February 9th, 2011
10:53 pm

Sage has been good conversation today

Randy Robitaille

February 9th, 2011
10:57 pm

OK LAC, I’ll stop now!

Bill Lindsay

February 9th, 2011
10:58 pm

I’m with you Randy, I’ll stop too!

John

February 10th, 2011
2:32 am

I was sitting in the Auckland, New Zealand airport and they were showing the NHL network replay of the Flyers-Stars the other night, of all things (funny, you have to scratch and claw for a bar stateside to put on hockey, but Auckland, NZ? You betcha!!). I saw Coburn, it made me think of Zhitnik, and I cried.

Red Light

February 10th, 2011
7:18 am

The Chicago Blackhawks acquired forward Michael Frolik and goaltender Alexander Salak from the Florida Panthers in exchange for forwards Jack Skille, Hugh Jessiman and David Pacan.

26 games to go, 34 points likely needed to gain a spot in the playoffs. The Thrashers play Florida twice, Carollina three times, Montreal twice, the Rangers once and Buffalo twice. All of those teams are in the hunt. Regulation wins in 7 of those 10 games are essential.

Red Light

February 10th, 2011
7:23 am

Drury is out 6 weeks and has had a nightmare season. Only played 23 games and had four assists.

Anyone notice that Boston is only 4 points ahead of the Habs, but they have a plus-44 goal differential while the Habs are only +6?

World Be Free

February 10th, 2011
7:45 am

Red Light, you wonder if father time and his history of gritty play is catching up with Drury. He is a money player, always has been- started with the Little League World Series all the way up to today. It was a very bad day when the Sabres lost Drury to the Rangers. Buffalo has not been the same since losing Drury and Briere-money guys.

Hugh Jessiman-s that THE Hugh Jessiman former no. 1 pick of the Rangers? If so, well the man has traveled quite abit.

h

February 10th, 2011
8:46 am

Isn’t Skille a guy we were supposedly really hot after? Great……tic toc tic toc RD……

GaVaHokie

February 10th, 2011
9:16 am

Not sure Skille brings anything more to the table then Thorburn or Slater would. He’s not the Top 6 guy we need.

Tanguay is injured… there’s another trade prospect gone.

Interesting that Dudley was at the Blues v. Panthers game the night Frolik gets traded.

World Be Free

February 10th, 2011
9:24 am

Skille is more the king of player the Panthers are looking for. I prefer skill and in this case I think Chicago gets the better end of the deal. Frolik was playing with a bunch of pipe fitters in FLA, he will get more room to work in Chicago.

Red Light

February 10th, 2011
9:33 am

Frolik is skilled but has probably suffered from playing in a role he isn’t well suited for. He’s put up decent numbers in three seasons, but Chicago might be the perfect spot for him, playing with more skilled linemates. He got some PP time in Florida, but only played 16 minutes per game. He doesn’t hit, doesn’t block many shots and his shooting percentage was just 5.1.

Skille was only playing 10 minutes per game in Chicago and probably will get twice that in Florida. He does hit and the Panthers sorely need some more toughness up front. He’s got speed and some skill, but he’s no top line guy yet either. He might do very well in Florida.

World Be Free: I spoke at length with Joe Micheletti about Drury, and Joe said he thought Drury was really questioning whether or not he could still play at his prior level. He gets hurt blocking shots and playing all out, but he has slowed down and just isn’t as effective as he once was, except as a leader. Scored some big playoff goals in his hey day but likely was better as a checking line center. It’s a shame for him.

Red Light

February 10th, 2011
9:39 am

BTW, the Rangers cap space gets another huge shot in the arm as they approach the deadline because of Drury being out. Now, Sather has more room to get another overpriced European forward who will suck for 27 games, like Hemsky for example.

Red Light

February 10th, 2011
9:50 am

Jessiman has never played in an NHL game, but may finally get his chance in Florida before his 27th birthday. Another Sather beauty!

Smoothie

February 10th, 2011
9:58 am

R/L – I would not be surprised at all if Sather pulls the trigger on a Hemsky deal. I just hope if Penner is unloaded that we are on the receiving end of that deal. I think he could really thrive here in Ramsay’s system and we need his combo of size & skill to beef up our top line as Laddy is a 2nd liner at best.

Joe Friday

February 10th, 2011
10:02 am

Frolik makes no sense for Chicago. ‘Hawks are not missing skill, they’re missing grit.

Bad move for the ‘Hawks in terms of helping now, but the goalie might be who they wanted in the deal.

Joe Friday

February 10th, 2011
10:06 am

Ramsay’s to do/don’t list:

1)Don’t trade Bogosian
2)Don’t trade Bogosian
3)Don’t trade the #1
4)Do trade for top line forward or top 2 d that a cap strapped club is willing to let go of for prospects, this can be a vet signed for at least 2 more years or a younger RFA with time left on his contract
5)If #4 doesn’t pan out now, do play out the string with these guys for the remainder of the year and then move your #1 at the draft to a cap strapped club for a #4 player and get busy on July 1st to plug another hole

Joe Friday

February 10th, 2011
10:09 am

Forgot #6)Do get a new head coach

Next year’s the year to compete, fellas. I’m afraid it just ain’t happening this year, we’re in a much deeper hole than the pts show right now with the games in hand we give up and Ramsay’s system hit a wall and he’s got no plan B.

Red Light

February 10th, 2011
10:24 am

The goalie is only 24, so you could be right Joe. Neither team takes on additional salary, so I have a feeling that Florida isn’t done dealing. Just the beginning. Remember, they haven’t made the playoffs since 2000 and they have played very well in March and April over the last three seasons: 28-20-7.

The Cats have 18 losses by one goal this year, most of any team, had 23 last year, and had 25 in 2007-08.

Get busy July 1? Who’s coming here Joe?

Russian

February 10th, 2011
10:37 am

**to Joe Friday**
Wow. Why do not you like Rammer? What’s wrong with him and his system?
I think your #5 will be our option for rest of the season. :-(

Old Time Hockey

February 10th, 2011
10:39 am

Ok Joe Friday…what prospects dare you trade for a top line forward or top 2 D? Yeah, Machacek and Leveille packaged ought to entice ANY team. If Dudley can pull that off, start building the statue of him outside the arena. Hope he can, but realistically….

Joe Friday

February 10th, 2011
10:42 am

Russian, plot out our record this year on a chart, and you’ll see why. Started out slow as the guys learned his system, once it clicked, the graph goes up nicely, other clubs took notice, scouted us and instituted a 2 man forecheck or neutral zone trap against us, and the graph has been sloping right back down since then. He’s been unable to counter or change up his system and he never makes in game changes of his system (switching from a hard forecheck to a more passive trapping style to protect leads). His go go go has gone gone gone. NHL is all about schemes and systems from a coaching standpoint and the ability to change on the fly, he hasn’t been able to do it and he’s kind of an old dog, don’t see that changing. He seems like a great assistant, a great teacher, but not a good head coach.

Red Light

February 10th, 2011
10:44 am

Leveille is a bit small and frail. Don’t think he’s much of an enticement.

Smoothie

February 10th, 2011
10:45 am

4)Do trade for top line forward or top 2 d that a cap strapped club is willing to let go of for prospects, this can be a vet signed for at least 2 more years or a younger RFA with time left on his contract

I don’t think this is possible without giving up something of value like a #1 draft pick (since we have no #2) or a young player who also happens to be a RFA (Bergfors!).

I still think Dudley will find someone to take Bergfors for a 2nd round pick and perhaps a young prospect, then get serious about using our 1st rounder to get a top-6 scorer. I don’t see any other way. Yeah, we could wait until the draft and try the same, but I don’t recall too many #1’s getting swapped for top-6 guys who are in their prime. It’s gonna have to be a younger player (think Versteeg as example) who is a RFA and could get blocked on a team with a wealth of top-6 talent (see Lupul). It’ll be interesting for sure. In the meantime, I’m just happy to hear Enstrom is practicing and may be ready to play tomorrow!

Sage of Bluesland

February 10th, 2011
10:46 am

OTH: “…what prospects dare you trade for a top line forward or top 2 D? Yeah, Machacek and Leveille packaged ought to entice ANY team. If Dudley can pull that off, start building the statue of him outside the arena. Hope he can, but realistically….”

A-freakin’-men OTH! It makes me laugh to read how EASY it is, according to some, to trade for all of these assets….If it were only so easy.

What on earth do we have, in terms of minor-league prospects, that any would give us anything for???!!!

In the real world in which I live, I can usually spot a person who doesn’t know what they are talking about when I hear the phrase, “All you have to do is [fill in blank]…” I mimic that phrase to those I hear it from, too–and I enjoy seeing their reaction.

Sure, “all we have to do” is ’simply’ trade for a top-4 forward and a top-2 defenseman…Heck, while we’re at it, I’m sure we can pry Stamkos from Tampa and Staal from Carolina…for a nice mixture of our “Legends of Blueland”, too…

Please, folks–let’s get some perspective in mind here. It’s sounding worse than some of Waddell’s bluster and failed promises at times…

Jason

February 10th, 2011
10:46 am

So it would seem my season ticket price for 11-12 has gone down again…considerably.

Joe Friday

February 10th, 2011
10:48 am

“what prospects dare you trade for a top line forward or top 2 D?”

The farm is open, the only untouchable we had was Morin and he got moved (and we rec’d good return on that, so that’s fine). You have to remember that cap strapped clubs want to move salary, that’s their motivation to remove high salaried guys and take prospects in return, open up their flexibility to reshape their rosters. But it probably won’t happen in the next couple of weeks so the time to make these moves is at the draft, play out the string and reshape the roster this summer. They made great steps this year already, I was very disappointed with losing our mo we had going in Nov/Dec because that was great hockey the guys were playing with a solid goalie on fire behind them. But Pavs has come back to earth and the system hit the wall, it is what it is, might as well deal with it, it’s not the end of the world if they don’t make the playoffs this spring, that’s not what’s going to save hockey in Atlanta . . .

Smoothie

February 10th, 2011
11:09 am

While I agree to an extent that the system has been a bit to rigid — as it is more Ramsay’s paradigm than a system per se — since the losing began in late December, I do not agree that Ramsay’s “system hit a wall”, but rather our players, most of whom are too young to play with such a physical edge for 82 games.

Ladd can do it, but obviously the guy is banged up and exhausted from playing 100+ games during the longest season a guy can have. Buff has shown how prone he can be to mental mistakes that are the result of fatigue and the wear and tear on his body as well. The system works IF IT IS DONE CORRECTLY WITH COMMITMENT FOR THE MAJORITY OF 60 MINS.

The thing that bothers me is that Ramsay himself is guilty of taking his foot off the pedal in the 2nd period (even at home) and they seem to resort to more “trapping” type methods by dropping the 2nd forechecker back into the neutral zone and often times that guy swoops in at the off blueline for a drive-by in case there is an errant or bobbled pass. If there isn’t, he’s rendered ineffective as he is now behind the play having to circle and hustle back into the NZ on the backcheck.

The D-men are supposed to take away the def blueline but as the game progresses they sometimes start to drop back (think Carolina game) when the team isn’t getting a lot of off zone time and feels it must be more conservative. So in effect, the relaxed forecheck leads to a bigger problem by which the D-men stop being as aggressive and then we end up giving up screened shots or too much zone time to the other team. Ramsay’s strategy is predicated on zone time and controlling the puck, but then we often fail to press the issue with our speed and size in the 2nd period because Ramsay knows his bottom lines are vulnerable and takes his foot off the gas to avoid getting exploited during the long-change period.

Sage of Bluesland

February 10th, 2011
11:38 am

…and a high-salaried guy has what motivation to play here (once here not by choice; ask Hossa)? We haven’t even had luck with the free-agents who have ‘voluntarily’ come here (ask Holik)…or even draft picks who had no choice, for that matter (ask Heatley)…

This is so multi-factored and complex it’s not even funny. There are no quick-fixes. This is something that starts at the very top–and is built from the very bottom up.

The malaise which this team and franchise is under will not be broken easily. Unfortunately, other teams’ junk will not fix it. Real leaders are needed–and they will not be exchanged for some of the jokes in our “Legends of Blueland” feeder system…

This ride is going to get bumpier before it gets smoother…With each ‘change’, we get set back further and further…and hope/pray the one making the decisions is wise…Unfortunately, only time will tell…We COULD be back to our next “Five-Year Plan” sooner than you think…

World Be Free

February 10th, 2011
12:38 pm

Red Light-thanks for the Joe Mich update-I like Joe’s work.

Drury is a gamer for sure, but he’s not that big and way overpaid to be a 3rd liner. He is a proud professional, probably more upset that he can’t earn his money than anything else. It is hard to see a character player like Chris Drury struggle. Drury and Pat LaFontaine came from the same mold, two players I respect a lot.

Jessman was a terrible pick, not even projected as a first rounder. But he’s big and that’s what Sather liked about him. Sather’s been hit in the head too many times. I have shied away from Hemsky too, I still think we should be seller on 2.28. Garage sale, get what you can.

World Be Free

February 10th, 2011
12:40 pm

Preds get Mike Fisher? Mike can go home to Carrie every night?
Not a bad gig, wonder if it will impact his “play”?

World Be Free

February 10th, 2011
12:47 pm

Sage – there’s no five year plan here-they are working on the five minute plan. Please let me know if you see a detectable pattern here!

Red Light

February 10th, 2011
1:15 pm

The Nashville Predators acquired center Mike Fisher from the Ottawa Senators in exchange for a 2011 first-round pick and a 2012 conditional draft pick, the team announced Thursday. WOW. Great move for the Preds. Leader. Blocks shots, hits, goals and assists.

Poile strikes again.

Smoothie

February 10th, 2011
1:23 pm

Great trade for the Preds, looks like it’ll be easy to make NSH my West Conference team when we miss the playoffs! Hope Carrie doesn’t wear him out making up for lost time! ;)

Russian

February 10th, 2011
1:24 pm

What’s Dudley doing? What’s he wait for? We are losing all good trades. Nashville is doing great. They won 2 games against Detroit. They are 5-th in Western Conference. And they are still got good player. Damn. I am not happy now. :-(

Joe Friday

February 10th, 2011
1:27 pm

crap, Fisher would have fit in great here and he’s exactly the kind of vet I was thinking of (he’d be a #1 center here), as he has 2 years left on his contract and was a salary dump by Ottawa.

Great move by Poile, indeed.

DWTOO

February 10th, 2011
1:40 pm

This is indeeed disappointing – a deal the Thrashers should have/could have made. Beginning to think WBF is right about us being sellers.

Smoothie

February 10th, 2011
1:40 pm

But Joe, you didn’t want to part with a #1 pick! ;) Would you have done the same if you were Rick Dudley? Like you say, he’d be a great fit here, especially with his declining salary relative to his cap hit.

Get The Puck Out

February 10th, 2011
1:42 pm

Versteeg for Bergfors and ?

Smoothie

February 10th, 2011
1:45 pm

I think Fisher had a limited NTC so chances are he wouldn’t / couldn’t have come here, but I love his game. While he may not be the scoring wing we desperately need, his 2-way game would suit Rammer’s regime quite nicely. I think Nashville is poised to make a serious run this year assuming Weber, Suter, Rinne and Sully can stay healthy.

Alan R.

February 10th, 2011
1:46 pm

I’m not sure Fisher is worth a first rounder. Especially our first rounder. Remember, we’re still a “bubble team.” If we give up a first, and miss the playoffs, can you imagine the whining and crying from people here?

Our first is valuable to us, right now, and we’re going to need something in return to justify giving it up. Something more than a Fisher.

Brendan

February 10th, 2011
1:49 pm

HP Drifter, I think most people provided the list of players who were traded here, then left. What wasn’t specified is if they were traded out or “walked in free agency.” Or retired from NHL play, like with Slava Kozlov and Scott Mellanby.

Also, there were some who left WITHOUT being offered a contract by Atlanta, in their UFA years. I’m thinking that would include Steve McCarthy (2006 Trade deadline acquisition) and Andy Sutton, who waited until August for Waddell to call, before inking a 3-year deal with the Islanders. Bobby Holik was NOT traded here. He was a straight-up UFA signing.

Some other names traded here, that were then shipped out or merely “walked” were the Hebrew Hammer Matthieu Schneider, who was sent packing to Montreal for a 2nd round pick and a conditional 3rd round pick. Nic Havelid was traded here, signed a UFA contract here, and then got traded to New Jersey. I think deVries walked as a UFA, but someone might have posted under his name already. I don’t think anyone listed Mark Recchi, who was a waiver claim acquisition, who later walked in free agency.

For me, what’s noteworthy isn’t the elongated list of players who said, “thanks, but no thanks,” but quality of the players who said, “nyet.” Imagine if we could have kept Kubina? If we could have kept Recchi, even as a 4th liner? What if we’d been able to hang on to Eric Belanger? He wanted NOTHING to do with Atlanta. And truthfully, I think he felt like he got BLAMED for the Rangers playoff sweep by Waddell.

Now, in the case of our draft picks, that’s maybe the most unpalatable of all. Why? They were ours. They grew up in our organization. They couldn’t wait to leave! Coburn, Kovalchuk, Heatley/Hossa. Letting Top 10 picks escape, and I don’t mean Patrik Stefan, is a tell-tale sign that something is wrong with the franchise.

Beee honest about something. What are the odds Kane and Bogosian will re-sign beyond their RFA years?? To borrow from Waddell, when discussing Kari Lehtonen’s RFA contract in 2009, “we hope we DO get an RFA offersheet.” For Waddell, this is a day at the beach. He didn’t have to negotiate anything. All he has to do is say, “Match the offer, or the player is gone.” And either ownership greenlights the contract or the player walks, with draft pick compensation coming back to the club. If poached by a GOOD team, that draft pick compensation is junk, something like an 18-30th overall pick, in terms of a 1st rounder.