Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Kovy the Devil

Ok, I've seen comments from Shooter and Morty about this below two threads and thought that it deserved to be its own topic. Besides, some glitch with my network at work won't let me post comments most of the time.

So the assertion from a lot of people lately has been "the Thrashers are better off without Kovy."

Their points:

1) Kovy has only scored 3 goals with the Devils.

2) Bergfors has scored 6 goals, including 2 game winners, for the Thrashers.

3) The Thrashers can gel more as "A TEAM" now.

Big Shooter and Morty have countered those points.

1) Kovy is not the leader who is relied upon to score goals for New Jersey.

2) Bergfors is a rookie who is excited to be here and will level off.

3) After a brief surge, the Thrashers are now mired in a 3 game skid and cannot find any offense.

So are the Thrashers a better team without Kovalchuk? Are the Devils a better team with Kovalchuk?

My thoughts:

1) The Devils have 4 players other than Ilya Kovalchuk with 15 or more goals (Langenbrunner, Parise, Zajac, and Rolston). The Atlanta Thrashers have 4 players with more than 15 goals (Fins, Bergie, Pevs, and Antro) plus two more at 14 (MacArthur and Kane). So the Devils traded to get Kovy's 34 goals-to-date versus Bergfors' 19 goals-to-date. Yes, it's true that the Devils have one other 30 goal scorer on their roster, it's obvious that Kovalchuk WAS acquired in order to light the lamp. He's done that 3 times so far, with one of them being a game winner. The fact that Bergie has gone on a tear and scored six in the same time period doesn't mean a whole lot. You need a bigger sampling to make judgments.

2) Yes, Bergie will certainly taper off his nearly goal-per-game pace. However, he has shown us that he has tremendous potential. With Bergfors, Little, Kane, Bogosian, Vishnevskiy, Morin, Klinberg, Macachek, Kulda, and Leville, this team looks a lot like the LA Kings of three years ago. That's a pretty favorable comparison.

3) The Thrashers have crashed back to earth after the pre-and post-Olympic mini-surge. Any hope for the playoffs is also plummeting through the atmosphere like a meteor. Part of that is the fact that a team of 20 goal scorers either needs one 40 goal scorer or an 80 assist guy who can make thing happen if they want to win the majority of their games. Another reason is that while Moose is good, he's not what you want as your Number One goalie. Ondrej has been disgustingly sub-par in the past several starts, so he can't be relied upon in this stretch run.

I think that this team has a very solid foundation of youth and role players. In order to be a playoff team next year, management has to spend like crazy on two of a) a legit 40-50 goal scorer (I hear NJ has one who will be a UFA in July), b) a set-up wizard, or c) a REAL number one goaltender (Turco or Nabokov, or in a pinch, Nittymaki). Either a) or b) will increase goals for by a margin of 30 or 40, and c) will reduce goals against by a margin of about 50. Do those two things together and you're looking at a secure post-season berth and a nervous first-round opponent.

Oh yeah, and hire the amateur goalie scout who worked for either Anaheim or San Jose in the 90's.


j_barty_party said...

I think this team is another 30 goal scorer and 40+ assist playmaker from being legit ASSUMING they can get a bona fide Top 2 D-man to play with Kubina as Toby is not the answer. He's a # 2 due to his size and would be better served playing against lesser competition to take advantage of his offensive skills.

But if Bogosian doesn't develop as quickly as they had hoped and Kulda can't contribute next year as a solid 7th D-man, then we are screwed. Hedberg will be a great back-up for Dan Ellis or Chris Mason, if we can con them into coming here. Nittymaki won't come here as he's in a position to take over as # 1 for Tampa. And he has way too much fun owning us.

As much as I love Rich Peverley, I think he is most dangerous playing with another playmaker (see his time with Slava) and a crash-the-net kind of banger (hopefully Kane will be perfect for this). So the key may be finding a LW that is not only a threat to score 20+ goals, but can also complement Peverley's play-making ability.

Who the hell fits this description? Does he even exist? Frolov perhaps? Other than that I have no idea.

Mortimer Peacock said...

There is a pretty solid foundation of young players, but what exactly is the goal for this season? To be more specific: I wonder if DW and co. view this as a re-building year or as a legitimate push to the playoffs.

If they WERE serious about trying to make the playoffs, they would traded away something at the deadline (Army, prospects, draft picks, perhaps Kozlov) to get a decent #1 goaltender or a veteran leader along the lines of Tkachuk or (transferring the picture to Penguinland) Bill Guerin. I was hoping for Owen Nolan, but that's an airy dream.

But it seems more likely that the Thrashers have merely CONVINCED everyone that they want to make a push for the playoffs right here and now, while in fact their main intention is to Build For the Future.

But if that's the case, why the hell did they do this "March to the Playoffs" marketing blitz and send players to various AM/PM stores? Are they trying to both rebuild AND contend? It wouldn't be the first time.

This team just needs a make a decision and commit to it. I would have been perfectly happy with a fire sale at the deadline if they were open about what they were doing. I could live with selling off good current players (like Kubina, say) for talented young prospects to join our other talented young prospects. But that would mean not making the playoffs here and now.

To say you're building a solid youth foundation AND contending for a playoff spot just seems to muddle things.

j_barty_party said...

Morty - ya gotta point there for sure. Did they honestly believe Moose is good enough at the ripe old age of 37 to play 18 or 19 of 22 games?? Pavelec has options in the AHL so there was no reason why they shouldn't have traded for a goalie at the deadline. However, if the likes of Marty Biron is the only guy you can get without giving up more than a 2nd round pick, I'm not so sure I disagree with not making a serious play for a goalie. To get say a Carey Price, the price would have been very steep. I'm sure they don't feel they have a good enough handle on their prospects' potential and who'd they be willing to part with in a package deal for a true # 1 goalie. I think they know they can address this in the offseason and are willing to roll the dice with Moose. But the point remains: if they truly wanted to bolster this team for a "march to the playoffs", they should've gotten at least a Ponikarovsky or someone of his ilk. Problem is there were too many buyers at this deadline.

The salary cap era breeds parity and parity can breed mediocrity if you don't develop your talent.

Jay said...

Going off of what happened at the deadline for every team, there wasn't a whole lot available for a reasonable price. Lot's of deals for sure, but nothing special. The Thrashers already have the type of players that were being dealt. I think that the Thrashers are making a legitimate run to the playoffs, but at the same time didn't want to end up making another Coburn for Zhitnik trade. I'm fine with how the deadline turned out for Atlanta. It's not like the teams they are competing against did anything either. The team as it is currently constructed can be a playoff team this year in the East. The only thing that surprised me was that they didn't trade Kozlov for SOMETHING. But at the same time, what team wants an aging player with a high contract, even for a 6th or 7th round pick? The Thrashers are in a difficult place. They just traded away the face of the franchise and their number one goaltender, which I was fine with. Do they dump Kubina, Armstrong, and Afinogenov for picks and prospects when they are only a few points out of the playoffs? Most of us that are regulars here would probably be ok with that since it would be better for the long term success of the franchise. But that would be suicide with the fair weather fans and the hockey media. Tough spot to be in. Personally, I would probably have preferred the sell off of all the UFA's except maybe Kubina(who I think could be the next captain) and Moose(for the fans). Load up with an unbelievable amount of picks and prospects and either trade some for a big time scorer or take Kovy's/Kozlov's/Armstrong's money and sign Marleau, who is a great scorer who seems to have a low key personality/ego. A Kane-Peverley-Marleau line would be pretty sweet.