Ondrej Pavelec has been back on the ice for about a week, and has now been cleared to return to game action.
With Ondrej the Giant returning to action, Peter Mannino has been sent back to the Wolves where he will likely reclaim the top spot between the pipes for the Thrashers AHL affiliate. Mannino got two periods of playing time in last Tuesday's losing bout with the Tampa Bay Lightning, taking over duties after Marathon Man Chris Mason let three pucks by in the first twenty minutes.
The Thrashers play Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden, then again 48 hours later at home against the Sabres. Expect to see Pavelec play in one or both games, as Chris Mason has appeared in eight straight contests to start the season.
Wednesday night's game against the Rangers also marks the 9th game of the regular season, meaning that Coach Ramsay and GM Rick Dudley will wrestle on Thursday with the question of whether or not Alexander Burmistrov will remain in Atlanta or go back to the Colts in the WHL this season.
As I discussed here, I believe it would benefit the club and Burmistrov to send him back to Junior after a 9 game taste of the big leagues. He has been very impressive and it appears he will develop into a heck of a hockey player, but he needs to put on some bulk and get a little more seasoned in his decision making. He can help the club right now, but a 19, 20, and 21 year old Burmistrov won't help the club nearly as much as a 20, 21, and 22 year old Burmistrov will when he comes back with three full years of an entry level contract ahead of him next Fall.
One argument that has been thrown around in the debate about whether or not Burmistrov should stay in the NHL this season revolves around the risk of injury. As our good buddy Rawhide said in his blog last week, injuries occur in both the NHL and Juniors. This is true. Frenchy offered up a counter point last weekend that there are no Chris Prongers skating around the WHL with their elbows up. However, there are a few Patrice Cormiers.
The risk of injury is probably about equal in the NHL and the WHL for Burmistrov. In the NHL he is a small 19 year old playing with much larger, more experienced, older players. In the WHL, he will be the same age, but will be one of the best players on the ice, making him a target for those with an intent to injure. It's like the difference between driving on a wet I-285 in a Prius around sleepy drivers of semi-trucks and driving a Porche in a demolition derby. The other cars might not be as big, but they're actually trying to hit you and take you out.
Burmistrov shouldn't be on the Thrashers' roster this Friday because he's more valuable to the team over the course of his three year entry level contract starting next year than starting this year. That is the only argument I have for sending him back to Junior, but I think it is the most important argument that can be made in this cap era.