The nice gentlemen at The Pens Blog set this up for the Bloguin hockey folks - please stop in, chat it up, and yell if your team does something doofy.
Like sign Kovalchuk.
The nice gentlemen at The Pens Blog set this up for the Bloguin hockey folks - please stop in, chat it up, and yell if your team does something doofy.
Like sign Kovalchuk.
Here lies 'Splodeybones' career with the Blues.
Feel free to check out my look at what the Thrash need to do over on SB Nation Atlanta - that site'll be updated ASAP if anything happens, so if you want to subscribe to an RSS feed to get the latest Thrashers signings, well, there you be.
I don't see the Thrashers being uber-active tomorrow, but I do think that the Blues might dip their toes in the pool a few times. Sean and I went back and forth over Kovy over on Game Time yesterday, but there's more to free agency than Kovalchuk. Look for the Blues to nab a defenseman if Colaiacovo finds a new home.
I'll try to participate in the free agency chat that the guys over at The Pens Blog are doing for all of us on Bloguin, but if you guys want to listen to a radio show that'll be outstanding, make sure that you head over to The Hockey Guys and catch the show. They have a huuuuuuge slate of guests lined up, and quite frankly will probably have the best radio show out there.
And, of course, even though I'll be ping-ponging about (I'm also in charge of any updates at BWA), this site'll be updated ASAP with any excitement that might happen. I might be out and about a few times tomorrow for family stuff, but things shall be posted. Oh yes. THEY SHALL BE POSTED.
I'm comin' back, ready to score 30 goals again. Seriously. I am. Promise.
Chris Vivlamore of the AJC shot out a tweet and a blog (bong and a blintz?) regarding some of our pending RFAs. A rather large question has been when the qualifying offers would be released - as someone who was assistant GM when the Hawks forgot to get out the QOs on time, I kind of expected that Dudley'd push it to the limit. He did. The Thrashers extended qualifying offers to Niclas Bergfors, Bryan Little, Ondrej Pavelec, Clarke MacArthur, Ben Eager, Peter Mannino and Anthony Stewart, wrapping up three of our youngest players and a guy we just traded for. Some people were trying to figure out if we'd re-up MacArthur or if we'd persue re-signing Evgeny Artyukhin. Arty mentioned a while ago wanting to test the KHL, and I think financially and playing time wise, that would be best for him. He'd easily crack the top six on a KHL team, and there really isn't any room for him with Buff, Eager, MacArthur, Slater, Thorburn, and Boulton.
Yep. I said Boulton. Boults has been extended a UFA offer by the team. Dudley has made it a major goal of his to big up the size of the team. We have offense in the form of Bergfors, Little, and Antropov. Dudley wants to get a 15-20 goal scorer somehow too. Honestly, though, everyone expects Eager to take over for Boulton. Let's, um... let's inspect one of Eager's fights:
So, Moose is working on a re-upping, and Kubina seems to be pretty actively talking to Waddell and Dudley. Hometown discount or not, re-signing him needs to be a major goal of the team. If he re-ups, losing Schubert wouldn't really make a blip on the radar (losing Pops again isn't going to blip much either). Max, Arty, and Armstrong all seem to be gone, but we've already replaced two of those with Eager and Buff. We do need a replacement for Afinogenov if he does leave, and I do trust Dudley to find someone.
Finding a goalie if Hedberg leaves will be tricky, and I'll be looking at that later on in a post probably tomorrow here, or Wednesday on SB Nation Atlanta. Or both. Who knows... but we can't risk Pavelec having hiccoughs. Halak's obviously gone (the Blues have extended a QO to him rumored to pay up to $4 million a season for a few years), but could we be in the market for Captain Consistent Chris Mason? Or Dan Ellis? What about Jose Theodore or even Marty Turco? Of course, Turk said no to the Flyers, soooo...
Needless to say, go to St. Louis Game Time for the draft wrap-up, and BWA as well. If you need a pick by pick list with some statage, I do have a post up on SB Nation Atlanta that should take care of that for you.
Scads happened, I tell you. Scads. The first round was an almost three-hour affair courtsey of TV cameras, analysis of every single pick, and interviews with the lucky kids. The draft on Saturday took the same amount of time to fly through the last six rounds. Both the Blues and the Thrashers managed some solid picks (complete list of the Blues' and the Thrashers' picks each are available on NHL.com), and aside from maybe the choice of Swedish late blooming goaltender Fredrik Pettersson-Wentzel in the 5th round (128th overall) and the drafting of Chicago Blackhawks' defenseman Kyle Beach's younger brother Cody Beach by the Blues (awk-ward), nothing earth-shattering happened.
Ben Wright has some outstanding factoids on our newest future franchise center here in Atlanta. The kid is extremely happy about being here. He also never wants to go back to the KHL, because he says it's for old farts like Jaromir Jagr and whatnot. He also is not a huge fan of flashy Russian playmakers like Kovalchuk and Ovechkin, preferring Kozlov and Afinogenov for their responsibility and playmaking. The player that is currently playing that he likes to be compared to the most is Pavel Datsyuk, so obviously the kid likes to think when he's out on the ice. Puck Padre also has a fun interview with Burmistrov, too. The kid's enthusiasm is infectious, that's for sure.
Unless you count the fact that the Blues and the Boston Bruins managed a trade of players at a draft where such things were few and far between. The Blues sent unsigned prospect David ("V.I.") Warsofky back home to Boston for the Bruins' fourth-line center and RFA Vladimir Sobotka. The Blues need a feisty player to center the third and fourth lines, and Sobotka fits that bill. He didn't get a chance to play much in Boston due to the logjam of players at that position, and the Bruins needed to clear space for their first round draft pick, Tyler Seguin. Sobotka is fast and can be occasionally annoying, which is the perfect fit for St. Louis, especially for someone who has the potential to center Cam Janssen. In contrast to Cam Smash, though, Sobotka only managed 30 penalty minutes last season, where Janssen sat in the box for a modest 190 minutes.
Cammer, the Blues' resident smartass jokester (who is really quite more intelligent than people would assume given his role on the team), had a boatload of fun at TJ Oshie's expensie when the Teej got a new haircut at the end of last season. God willing Sobotka took note of that, because if he shows up at any Blues event with hair like this, I'm sure that some Cammentary will wind up in the Post Dispatch game wrap up:
You've been warned, young man. You've been warned.
This was, quite possibly, the oddest draft I have watched in a while. No huge blockbuster trades to announce, a la Chris Pronger to the Flyers. Not a lot of movement in general, and no one knew who was picking who. Outside of the first two picks, it was a complete crapshoot. Good, high ranking players dropped out of the top 10 as clubs shied away from drafting defensemen. Offense was the name of the game in the first round, and the Blues and Thrashers picked up some offensive gems.
There's some paranoia about drafting Russian players that is completely understandable. Thrashers fans remember Ilya Nikulin. Outstanding player and defenseman – refuses to leave Russia. There is always a possibility that loyalty to their Russian club'll kick in, as will the allure of tax free tons of money, and poof – you're out a first rounder. The Thrashers were willing to take that risk, drafting Alexander Burmistrov 8th overall. Alexander was ranked 11th overall by NHL Central Scouting, and is often compared to current Thrasher Maxim Afinogenov. His idol, though, is Pavel Datsyuk. If he's as quick as Max and as brilliant as Dats, we snagged a damned good pick. Falconer over at BWA has some interview and video up of him after the draft, and the kid looks really, really thrilled to be a part of the organization. This isn't his first foray into North American hockey, either, having been on the Barrie Colts last season, so there might not be a huge period of adjustment. He just needs to work out this summer and add some size. I'll be looking forward to seeing him at prospect camp next month.
The Blues entered the draft having the 14th overall pick, and wound up leaving tonight with the 14th and 16th picks. This was Jarmo's last stand, and he did not disappoint, using the team's huge stockpile of defensemen (Rundblad went to Ottawa) to swing drafting two forwards who are both dynamic players. The Blues selected Jaden Schwartz 14th overall, which was higher than CSS had him ranked by far (he was ranked at 28th). He's a good, strong centerman who should be ready in a few years. He's also the brother to Yale hockey player Mandi Schwartz, who you may recall is fighting for her life with leukemia. Schwartz is small at only 5'10”, but he makes up for that with quick thinking and impressive playmaking skills.
Vladimir Tarasenko is a little tank. He's built like a house. Like a really short house that could plow through the Great Wall of China. Out of the three guys chosen tonight by my two teams, it's this surprise pick that I really really dig the most. He's currently in the KHL playing for HC Sibir, which means he's developmentally advanced. His father Andrei is a former Russian scoring champion and his coach as well, and Tarasenko plays just like you'd expect him to. He crashes the net, getting people out of his way, and he nails that big goal. He was the top ranked player by International Scouting Services amongst their European skaters. He wants to play in the NHL, and he wants to play now, and the Blues have had success bringing players from Europe to the team with being able to bypass Peoria entirely, most recently with Patrik Berglund. Of course, there is the pesky problem of him being under contract with Sibir for next season still... hm. Yeah. That'll be fun to deal with.
You want to see why I'm so excited about him? You want a highlight video? I'll give you a highlight video:
The NHL has its official story up on the deal (leaving out Ben Eager completely as part of the trade - good fact checking there, NHL.com!), as does former Thrashers beat reporter Craig Custance, now of The Sporting News. The NHL's piece is a puff piece to be sure, but it does have a few interesting quotes from Dudley in it.
"We have an edict in Atlanta that we want to win now," he said. "We wanted to get some people who were young and who will be with us for a while." Apparently Dudley got an edict from on high from the Atlanta Spirit of "WIN NOW." Last time we got said edict, we wound up getting Zhitnik for Coburn and trading away lots of picks and whatnot for Keith Tkachuk. This go around though there was more to choose from that could help the franchise long term, and Dudley's good working relationship with Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman helped facilitate the trade. Dudley is looking to use his good relationships around the league to land the Thrashers a 20 goal scorer as well. The free-agent market just dwindled a bit with the Sharks' re-signing of Marleau and Pavelski, so it's either Poni, Kovy, or trade. My money's leaning on trade.
Custance has always been one to wrangle good quotes out of people, and he's also still one of the most trusted resources on the Thrashers along with Keven Allen of USA Today - mostly because they actually pay attention to the team and what goes on here, which is a more novel concept than one would expect. Anyway, this is the quote that, when released, caused a twitter around Twitter:
“I think what we saw in the playoffs is the Dustin Byfuglien that has been evolving for some time now. As a forward, he’s one of the premiere power forwards in the league. He’s capable of 25-30 goals, at least.”
A lot of Hawks fans laughed at this and called Dudley silly for believing the playoff hype of Buff. That's understandable. He's a streaky player who tries when he wants to. What we saw in the playoffs was Dustin Byfuglien at his best. It's going to remain to be seen if the Thrashers will bring that out in him. It's going to be a bit of an adjustment for him, but Odyua and Bergfors made it and like playing here now, so Buff shouldn't have a problem.
Also, Craig Ramsay was just officially hired as coach - here's the press release.
Editor's note - I had this up about 7 hours ago, but the switch to a new server caused this post to get eaten, as did the post regarding Ramsay. I'm not re-typing the latter one because it's 3:30 in the AM, so please see my articles over at SB Nation Atlanta regarding our newest coach.
Welcome to Chicago South, ladies and gentlemen. The Chicago Blackhawks absolutely needed to dump salary, and wanted picks, prospects, and cheap but useful players. The Thrashers, well, we had a couple of extra picks left over from the Kovalchuk trade, we have a bunch of prospects, and God knows we have cheap and useful players. Match made in heaven, huh?
The Atlanta Thrashers shipped Marty Reasoner, Joey Crabb and Jeremy Morin, as well as New Jersey’s 1st and 2nd round picks to the Chicago Blackhawks for Dustin Byfuglien, Ben Eager, Brent Sopel, and Akim Aliu. Chicago was up against a wall and well over this year’s cap, and apparently someone read Falconer’s blog post on it and thought “Hey, these Atlanta guys seem like they have their stuff together, let’s dump our salary on them! They have Dudley, too, so the guys’ll feel at home.
Atlanta this year will have no problem meeting the cap floor, as Big Buff will be making $3,000,000 next year, Ben Eager is an RFA due for a pay raise to probably a million and a quarter, and Sopel will be making $2,000,000. They also will have plenty of space to fill a void if the team does go ahead and let Maxim Afinogenov walk.
Blackhawks fans and hockey pundits are decrying this trade as a bad one for Atlanta, and saying that the Thrashers got hosed. Gaining three solid role players for Marty Reasoner, 2 picks that weren’t ours to start off with, and Jeremy Morin is not a loss. The Thrashers do not need prospects. We need solid locker room leaders who can play good hockey on the ice. We just got three guys who won the Stanley Cup, one of whom played a HUGE part in said win. Alou and Morin is a great flip because Alou is closer to the league than Morin is, and he’s also a good prospect.
If you look at it this way, the Thrashers have traded Kovalchuk, Salmela, Reasoner and Morin for Bergfors, Cormier, Oduya, Byfuglien, Eager, Sopel, and Aliu. They finally have size, some sort of toughness, and even a few guys who can score. There isn’t a big scoring 1st or 2nd line guy, but I’m sure that that’s on Dudley’s to-do list. This probably just happened to present itself, and if we’re going to make a splash and actually re-build CORRECTLY, then this was a good start. The team still needs to sign another goaltender, a 1st or 2nd line forward, and with these three added, that means that a couple of our current roster players are gone for sure – Armstrong and possibly Afinogenov.
This is a good step forward for Atlanta, and it probably bodes well for the Thrashers signing Torchetti as coach. People might’ve been excited about last season’s potential. Next year, well… maybe it’ll be a little better.
The home opener schedule's been released a day in advance of the full schedule. The Thrashers open on Friday, October 8th against Washington, and the Blues open Saturday, October 9th against the Flyers. Yeah, I know. Weird matchup for the Blues, but hey - at least we know what to expect.
Speaking of Blues, or former ones, this year's Hockey Hall of Fame voting is gearing up, and in case the voters don't remember, Adam Oates is still available. I offer up my case along with 9 other bloggers over at NBC's Pro Hockey Talk as to who we'd like to see in the Hall. And, yes, Oates is on my list. Thanks to James for letting me share my opinions, and of course a continuing thanks to him for letting me randomly appear on Cycle Like the Sedins. For some reason, he trusts us. Wacky.
Hot on the heels of the Thrashers to Winnipeg rumor of a while back comes the newest refutable rumor in the never ending saga that is the Atlanta Spirit. This time, though, the rumor comes from a slightly more reputible source than a Winnipeg radio show. The New York Post reported a few days ago that the Spirit were looking to sell everything - the Hawks, the Thrashers, Philips, the whole shebang. Local sports talk radio station 680 the Fan picked the news up to be broadcast. Almost in record time, the Atlanta Spirit issued another press release reiterating that the franchise is not for sale - I'm starting to become convinced that they just have a form letter that they ask a secretary to print out and mail to newspapers and the like. For more in-depth analysis of how the Post rumor could or could not be legit, please to go to the Blueland Chronicle, who were the only site that mentioned this issue for a few days. I would have, but I really tend to tune the "ZOMG THRASHERS ARE MOVING!!11!!" rumors out, and I was still recovering from writing 4 separate articles on the Halak trade for 4 different sites.
But I marinaded on this for a while, and good bud PCS (he of the weekend links on St. Louis Game Time) asked me my opinion on this TSN article detailing the refuting of the rumors - kudos to TSN for finding a photo with a full Philips, BTW. Anywho, I'm sure he wanted a brief response. Instead he got a bit more... which is after the jump.