Trade focus (Part I): Thrashers need help but will they get it?

Rich Peverley and goalie Ondrej Pavelec celebrated a 1-0 win over Washington Wednesday, but the team needs scoring help.

Rich Peverley and goalie Ondrej Pavelec celebrated a 1-0 win over Washington, but the team needs scoring help.

With the Atlanta Spirit once again busy litigating and lying, I thought this would be a good time for the rest of us to actually focus on their teams.

The Hawks wilted in the fourth quarter in Milwaukee last night and lost. Later today, I’ll post a column on the biggest concern about the team and whether they need to make a trade (answer: yes). But this morning, we start with the Thrashers, the franchise that the Spirit/Team Pinocchio has been trying to sell since roughly five minutes after purchasing it.

On the ice, the Thrashers have been a nice little story. The personnel decisions of Rick Dudley and coaching of coach Craig Ramsay have been impressive. When the team went 19-11-5 in the first 35 games, it was stunning. Some would call it overachievement.

But recently there has been a market correction. Prior to the 1-0 win over Washington Wednesday night, the Thrashers were 1-4-3 in their previous eight games and had only one regulation win in their previous 16 (4-8-4). There have been injuries. There was a difficult stretch of the schedule. Mostly, they just came back down to earth.

They need a trade. They need help. They need a top-six forward. I spoke to Dudley Wednesday night and he agreed. But will an ownership that clings to nickels, except when it comes to paying attorneys, dare to raise the team’s anemic  $41 million payroll, which ranks 29th out of 30 teams?

Dudley thinks yes. We’ll see. If the object is to sell or “dispose” of the team — “dispose” is an actual verb from the latest suit — why would Team Pinocchio agree to raise its costs?

Here are some comments from Dudley:

On the team’s salary cap space: “We’re in a great position. A lot of teams are looking to make a run at the playoffs but most are up against the cap in some form or another.”

On whether he believes he’ll be handcuffed in trade talks: “No. I’ve talked to [the owners] about it and talked to Don [Waddell] and there doesn’t seem to be a problem. If there’s a piece out there that makes sense, I think we’ll do it.”

On how he’s affected by the ownership situation: “One of the nice things is I think there’s a little bit of resolution [with Steve Belkin leaving the group]. I think it was a bit of a pain in the [rear] for everybody. Now at least they can make decisions without input from anybody else of any kind. … I’m sure [owners] would like to part with part of the team or all of the team. That’s what I read. That’s what you write. But I don’t think any of us in the hockey operations department can concern ourselves with that. One thing I do know is  whether they sell part of the team, all of it, whatever, we can make it a much more viable product for whomever.”

On perceptions that the team was overachieving before: “I don’t believe in overachieving. I believe there are teams where guys play at close to their optimal level. We had been playing as close to an optimal level as any team in the league and that made us a force. Right now we’re not at that level. We were at 90 percent before. We’re probably at 70 or 65 percent now.”

Dudley’s preference is for a right winger but he would take any goal scorer. (Defenseman Dustin Byfuglien continues to lead the team in scoring but he has gone 10 games without a goal.) The NHL trade deadline is Feb. 28. The team needs help.

Can another $10 million be spent on players. Or has that been earmarked for attorneys fees?

Coming next: The Hawks’ biggest concern.

By Jeff Schultz

Follow me on Twitter @JeffSchultzAJC; friend me at Facebook.com/JeffSchultzAJC


83 comments Add your comment

Matt

January 27th, 2011
8:02 am

Jerome Ignila from the Flames would be a very, very nice addition. I wonder what we would have to give up to get him.

Jeff Schultz

January 27th, 2011
8:09 am

Matt, info on Iginla: He’s making $7 million this year (the smaller problem) and has two more years at $7 million each (the bigger problem). … He’s 33 and not the monster he once was but still is on a great pace (22 goals in 51 games, roughly a 35-goal pace). … Calgary also is one of those “desperate” cap teams. They’ve got no space and the team is struggling.

Fish Bisch

January 27th, 2011
8:14 am

Go Thrashers

docsbro

January 27th, 2011
8:24 am

He also might get rejuvenated with a change of scenery.

Mike W

January 27th, 2011
8:24 am

While I’d be thrilled to see Iginla here too, I don’t think that’d happen. A more possible trade would be for Matt Moulson from NYI. He’s rumored to be on their trading block, and he’d be a nice addition to our top 6.

Telfo

January 27th, 2011
8:35 am

There are some guys available but most of them would require a first round pick at a minimum which is something i am hesitant to give up. we already dont have a 2nd rounder and this team still has building to do, playoffs or not.

A guy like Hemsky, Penner, Versteeg or Mike Fisher would be great though. I would prefer Hemsky as he still has another year on his contract

Jeff Schultz

January 27th, 2011
8:38 am

Mike W — Moulson is a free agent after this season, that’s why his name has come up in trade rumors. Isles want to re-sign him but haven’t been able to.

Jeff Schultz

January 27th, 2011
8:40 am

Telfo — I’d balk at giving up first-rounder also but I don’t think they’d have to. They have some young/cheap players other teams would take.

jerry

January 27th, 2011
8:45 am

Are the Thrashers really relevant now? Or are they like a lame duck president, on their way out?

Buckeye

January 27th, 2011
8:50 am

Maybe a “fire Mark Richt” will get the board going….

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Ally and Chris Telford, Jeff Schultz. Jeff Schultz said: Trade focus (part I): Thrashers need help but will they get it? http://bit.ly/gEbJNC [...]

Don Waddell

January 27th, 2011
9:03 am

As you all know by now, I do not care about this team, and I do not understand hockey. I just keep on climbing up, and doing well. And on the top of that – no accountability for my actions. Like the government, Wall Street folks, etc. Screw up everything, while being compensated very well. Yeah!!

PMC

January 27th, 2011
9:18 am

Since they made the all in trade a few years ago when they were close I would think that would still hold true. I just hope they don’t ruin two years of progress to chase the Keith Tkachuck’s of the world for a playoff sweep.

I like this club, I think they simply need to play better hockey than they have of late. Move the puck, and start scoring when they have opportunities as they did on power plays early in the season.

Rich T

January 27th, 2011
9:19 am

Hey, Jeff. I told you a few months back that we’d find the Thrashers right where they are every season in January. Still I like the nucleus here better than ever before. The only problem is the same ownership has the purse.

Nick Fairley Owns UGA

January 27th, 2011
9:47 am

Who are the Atlanta Thrashers?

hockey suxs

January 27th, 2011
9:48 am

Hockey is terrible. Face it, noboday here cares unless you are a Yankee transplant and foreigners. Football is KING, i could careless about a bunch of figure skaters with sticks. This is the worst time of the year for sports because all that is really going on is Hockey and Basketball. #1 and #2 worse sports in my opinion. Can’t wait until April, so we can atleast get some baseball to hold me over until August when the Dawgs and Falcons start gearing up for the best time of the year. FOOTBALL SEASON. What i can’t wait to see for this Thrasher’s team, is when they pack their bags and head North were Hockey belongs.

PMC

January 27th, 2011
9:50 am

Football season doesn’t interfere with Hockey season.

Rich T

January 27th, 2011
9:51 am

UGA fans who ask “Who are the Atlanta Thrashers?” are the ones who are an embarrasment to the ones who don’t. There are things in life other than the Bulldogs; some even more important.

Thomas Magnum

January 27th, 2011
9:52 am

Another great read Jeff! Love the focus on hockey lately. Keep up the good work!

Hershel

January 27th, 2011
10:13 am

hey hockey sux, you are such a girl! if you havent noticed football sux here in the state and the Thrash at last check are a winning team and in playoff position

Yep

January 27th, 2011
10:17 am

Hockey Suxs said “Hockey is terrible. Face it, noboday here cares unless you are a Yankee transplant and foreigners. ”

I’m born and raised here and I love Hockey, just because you don’t understand the rules is why you don’t like it. You probably don’t like math, reading, traveling or anything else like that I expect.

JSS

January 27th, 2011
10:23 am

Well, everyone knew from the moment that Kovalchuk was sent packing that their explosive scoring aspect was going to be a reach… You just don’t grow them (natural point machines) on trees, Waddell for all of his faults gave us Heatley and Kovy. You can’t rewrite or change that missed opportunity… Is Esposito ever going to pan out? Are the Thrashers “really” in the market to take a “rent a scorer” to make a serious run again?

tonyb

January 27th, 2011
10:24 am

Jeff, I don’t see the ASG adding 7 to 10 million to the payroll. I can see maybe 2 to 4 million. That would land a good rental player with an expiring contract.

I’m hearing that the team is making it known that Hainsey, Antropov, and Modin are available. Antropov has two years left on his contract, and is coming off a hip surgery. I could see him bring a nice return from a contending team. It would be great to move Hainsey, as he has 2 years and 8 million left on his deal. But again, this appears to be more of a blockbuster type move than a rental deal. The team would have to pick up salary if they are trading these guys, as they are bumping against the mandatory league minimum. They could get old UFA with 3rd and 4th round picks, which also may be an option. I don’t think there is much in Chicago to move, maybe Kulda or Postma. But the Wolves history of development for the Thrashers is less than stellar.

Two things the Thrashers need to do to make the playoffs. One, get everyone healthy and two, keep OP healthy. As you know Jeff, a team can go a long way with a hot goalie.

DawsInATL

January 27th, 2011
10:29 am

Schultzy – any suggestions on some guys we could get, and afford? In my eyes, as a young team, we could use a couple vets to help us shift possession in our favor. And for the fans sake we could use a top 10 goon to sell some tickets

As a guy whose from down here, played football, and loves football. Sitting down by the glass would convert anybody. That said, “hockey suxs” why would you seek out an article on hockey just to comment you don’t like it?

Gareth Bale

January 27th, 2011
10:30 am

Rich T: The guy who posted “Who are the Thrashers?” appears to be an Auburn fan. Try not to disparage in ignorance.

Hillbilly Deluxe

January 27th, 2011
10:32 am

Hockey is terrible. Face it, noboday here cares unless you are a Yankee transplant and foreigners.

I’m a 7th generation Georgian and I like hockey.

It would be nice if they made a trade but the chances of them winning the Cup, this year, are pretty slim. Okay real slim, so I wouldn’t give away the store. If they can get some help at a decent cost, then go for it; otherwise, be patient.

Buzzeng

January 27th, 2011
10:35 am

“…an ownership that clings to nickels, except when it comes to paying attorneys…”

Bravo!

Go Thrashers!!

DawgFan

January 27th, 2011
10:36 am

My experience has been that the people who don’t like hockey really like soccer. Let’s see, in hockey, if you get hit, you get up and keep going. In soccer, if you get hit, you flop around like a dying fish out of water until someone lifts up a yellow or red piece of paper. Hmm…

I’d love to see the Thrashers get some scoring help. Maybe I’m old school, but it pains me to see a defenseman leading the team in scoring.

hockey suxs

January 27th, 2011
10:45 am

Yeah my Dawgs took it on the chin this year, we’ll be back. Funny thing, we had a losing record but still sold out every game. Hockey team is winning and you can’t put people in the seats. I am not the only one with this opinion.

Herschel, football sux in this state, Falcons did pretty good. Playoff disappointment but they are building something special.

Look this article has been up for a couple hours and there is only a handful of you smucks talking about the Trashers. If someone writes a column on anything football, including GT, you have pages of comments. hockey suxs.

Colonel Reb

January 27th, 2011
10:55 am

Hey “hockey suxs,” just because you don’t like hockey and aren’t intelligent enough to understand the game doesn’t mean others don’t. Your opinion doesn’t make it fact.

Otto

January 27th, 2011
11:01 am

Native southerner (Cobb County) here. Hockey is the only sport outside of college football worth watching.

Hopefully management can turn this team around. If a decent product is put on the ice the team will sell tickets. However as a previous AJC article pointed Atlanta residents have plenty of reason to be cynical of their pro teams thanks to their post season record.

Daugherty72

January 27th, 2011
11:05 am

Hey hockey sux……go back to your double wide, cook up some more meth in your bathtub, and start looking for your false teeth……..I love football, but I also enjoy baseball, basketball, hockey, soccer, etc….it’s called being a well rounded sports fan……by the way hockey sux, when referring to the Dawgs, remember that you don’t play for them, so it’s not “we”……jack*ss…..

Hershel

January 27th, 2011
11:17 am

Hockey Sux. you really need to lace up some skates and put your money where you mouth is. You are such a jack wagon. your big ole dawgs would be worn out by a typical pee wee hockey practice. don’t get me wrong I actually atteded and graduated from UGA, but as far as excitement goes hockey beats football any day of the week. and for your so called sell outs in Athens, did you actually go? there were so many empty seats it was pathetic.

Alan R.

January 27th, 2011
11:27 am

Hockey is terrible. Face it, noboday here cares unless you are a Yankee transplant and foreigners

Are you hurt that Schultz here is talking more about hockey than, say, recruiting? Or high school basketball?

I’m one of those transplants from a hockey city, but I know plenty of people here who either saw Atlanta Flames games growing up, or were Atlanta Flames season ticket holders. There are even former hockey players who live in Atlanta. I guarantee they’d punch you into next week if they heard some of the filth you’re spewing.

I get it. You don’t like hockey. No one forced you to read this blog, and certainly no one forced you to post here. You don’t see me posting on Hawks, Dawgs, or Tech blogs saying that “no one” likes this or that. I don’t read ‘em. Don’t care for ‘em. The only sport I enjoy is hockey, so I keep to hockey blogs.

Grow up.

Alan R.

January 27th, 2011
11:33 am

But more to the point. Thanks, Jeff, for going to the top and asking some important questions.

JSS

January 27th, 2011
11:34 am

hockey suxs
January 27th, 2011
10:45 am
“Look this article has been up for a couple hours and there is only a handful of you smucks talking about the Trashers. If someone writes a column on anything football, including GT, you have pages of comments. hockey suxs.”

The same 40 people always comment on the UGA and Falcons blogs… So your comment on blogging demographics is mute… Now, that is truly sad, and they say the same things for 15 to 20 pages! You just can’t be that dense day after day!

40 yrs

January 27th, 2011
11:35 am

Well said Alan R My question is witch one of the owners is hockey suxs?

hockey suxs

January 27th, 2011
11:37 am

Herschel – Yeah i was at a couple games this year. Work and family take away a lot of free time to go to games nowadays. A lot of the empty seat BTW where in the student sections. The days when you could get in with a studnet ticket is over now that they scan their ID’s. Jackwagon you’ve seen the R. Lee Emery commercial too, good stuff.

Daugherty, funny comment.

All this not intellegent to understand; it’s i don’t want to understand; hockey is as fun to watch as paint dry. And who said anythign about fact, this is all my opinion. You all have fun watching this team for another year or so, they will be out of ATL in no time. When that happens you all invited to my Good Riddance party.

Jim Viondi

January 27th, 2011
11:48 am

Grew up in Atlanta…loved the Flames, but these Thrashers, uhghh….

Tim

January 27th, 2011
11:50 am

I hope the Thrashers can pick up a good player to make a playoff run! I wish we still had Mark Savard!

Jeff Schultz

January 27th, 2011
11:53 am

Rich T — There are reasons to like some of the young players but I think we call agree they need more — and ownership that cares.

Jeff Schultz

January 27th, 2011
11:53 am

Thomas Magnum — Thanks.

JSS

January 27th, 2011
11:55 am

hockey suxs
January 27th, 2011
11:37 am
“All this not intellegent to understand; it’s i don’t want to understand”

Never thought I’d see some one make UGA Bugkiller (”Bugkiller” etc…) look like even in the vicinity of intelligent on any matter. That was until today! Congrads to “Hockey Suxs” who gets his jolly on watching R. Lee Emery playing a caricature of movie character. Question: Were there no more episodes of “Momma’s Family” on for you to watch?

ZAvalanche

January 27th, 2011
11:55 am

Amen Hershel. There are a lot of teams struggling with injuries right now. The week off will be a total healing effort. Buffy is going to bring it later in the season and Thrashy will make the playoffs. There is no way Iginla will be a Thrasher. Even if their season is down the tubes they are going to keep their franchise player. We need to look elsewhere.

Jeff Schultz

January 27th, 2011
11:57 am

JSS — Yep, hard to believe this organization once had Heatley and Kovalchuk on the same team. … On Angelo Esposito: I can’t answer that, but the Penguins had come to believe he wouldn’t be a big part of their future.

Jeff Schultz

January 27th, 2011
11:58 am

Tonyb– I’m sure all three of those guys are available but it’s not limited to them.

Jeff Schultz

January 27th, 2011
12:02 pm

DawsinAtl — I like the two names that were thrown out. As far as suggesting others, I’m hamstrung by fact I don’t know all of these guys contracts like I used to and so don’t know what “premium” guys are at end of deals (and therefore may be more likely to be traded). As I do a little more research, I’ll try to throw some names out. But look at some of the major teams with cap issues and go from there: Van, Boston, Cal, San Jose, Boston, Philly, Chicago, Ottawa, NJ, Mont, Detroit.

Jeff Schultz

January 27th, 2011
12:03 pm

Alan R — Thanks. I enjoy talking to Rick Dudley. (Believe it or not, I enjoyed talking to Don Waddell too.)

Darren

January 27th, 2011
12:34 pm

Jeff, two other names that have been bandied about have been Alex Tanguay and (wait for it) Andrew Brunette! Could you imagine an original Thrasher coming back to this team?

Proud_to_be_a_Dawg

January 27th, 2011
12:47 pm

@ Hockey suxs,

If you hate hockey so much, why were you on the message board for almost 2 hours? Here’s an idea, stick to NASCAR and Deer Hunting you ‘neck