Rick Dudley recently discussed the trade climate in the NHL in an interview with the team's internal PR department. The most interesting statements were these: "at this point in time we are one of the few teams that are still assessing simply because of all the changes. . .. We’re a team that could conceivably make a trade that other teams can’t make partly because we have a pretty deep roster. . .. We have strength at certain positions that we could afford to give up a player and get something back that we really need. . .."
Dudley had discussed that "pretty deep roster" earlier in the interview when he singled out Riley Holzapfel, Spencer Machacek, Arturs Kulda, and Patrick Cormier as players who could potentially crack the Atlanta lineup and make the team better. He went on to say that "there are guys who you look at more like could they play as opposed to somebody else currently in the lineup but they might not necessarily make us better."
Those players that can fill in adequately for current roster players without necessarily making the team better are what makes for depth. If the NHL club needs to call someone up due to injury or trades, the they can fill in the gaps without losing productivity on either side of the ice.
With the trade winds stirring in the NHL as teams begin to solidify their needs, we here at the Chronicle decided to take a look at exactly what constitutes the Thrashers' depth and who could be potential trade bait. For the sake of comparisons, we'll use an EA Sports NHL style numerical system to rate players' skill sets and value to the team and to potential trade partners.
This is where the depth really shows. The current NHL roster features:
Those players constitute the core of the forwards and are very unlikely to be moved via trade any time in the near future. The possible exception could be Bergfors if Dudley and crew don't feel that they have a good shot at signing him to an extension. The rest of the forwards currently on the roster and the prospects in Chicago are all fairly interchangeable and therefore could be packaged in any combination in order to bring marquee talent back to Philips Arena (prospects are ranked with a range due to the uncertainty of how their game will translate to the NHL):
Among these tradeable assets, Modin and Dawes' stock has fallen significantly since they were acquired during the summer while Thorburn and Stewart's value has likely risen due to their improved scoring touch through the first quarter of the season.
The blue line corps is deep, but doesn't feature as many ready prospects as the forwards. I would be shocked to see Dudley make a move that required our big three defenders to change zip codes:
Johnny Oduya, whom we will rate at a 75, fits into a similar category as his fellow former Devil Nick Bergfors. If management feels like he will re-sign with Atlanta, they won't usher him out the door. However, if they see the horizon reflected in his eyes, they could realize a healthy return by shipping him out early. The final two roster regulars and prospects are all potential trade fodder, though Hainsey's contract numbers may make him a difficult sell:
Hainsey's stock is probably slipping a bit this season with just 1 point and an even rating through 21 games. On the other hand, 33 year old vet Brent Sopel, while no offensive dynamo, has quietly put up respectable stats at +3 with two points through 20 games. That may not sound like a big difference, but he's outpacing his colleague who makes $3 million per year more than he does and he's won a Stanley Cup. Boris has been passed over on the waiver wire going both ways (meaning that nobody claimed him even when they would only be responsible for paying half his salary), so his trade value is effectively zero.
While Peter Manino (65-70) and Drew MacIntyre (60-65) give the Thrashers good depth for the future, neither seems quite ready to take over as a backup in the NHL this season, so Pavelec (75) and Mason (70) should be safe from any trade rumors.
Of course there are also draft picks that can be offered up in trades. The Thrashers have already traded away their 2011 second round draft pick (Ladd) and 5th round draft pick (2 6th round draft picks in 2010; Kendall McFaull and Tanner Lane). With his team in the midst of a rebuild, and knowing Rick Dudley's pride in his prospect evaluation talents, I cannot imagine him making any deal that left Atlanta without a draft pick in the first two rounds.
A well stocked Chicago Wolves team and beaucoup cap room has Atlanta in prime position to make a trade or two when the time comes. Because so many players are ready to step in and fill gaps without giving up productivity, Dudley has the luxury of packaging multiple players for a single, higher profile target.