Friday, March 5, 2010

A Look Ahead to the Offseason

With the trade deadline behind us and the roster frozen (except for waivers and free agency signings) through the end of the 09-10 season, let's take a quick look at DW and Dudley's summer job. No, they won't be shagging balls at Lake Lanier Islands, they will be trying to ensure that the Atlanta Thrashers continue to improve for years to come.

Loyal readers know I like to look at things as a depth chart, so let's do that now. Here's what our current roster looks like for forwards:





With Kozlov, Boulton, and White in the press box.

Kozlov, Armstrong, Slater, Afinogenov, Artyukhin, and Boulton will be unrestricted free agents at the end of the year. Little, MacArthur, and Bergfors will be restricted free agents. For those who don't know, UFA's can sign with anyone for any price. RFA's, after being offered a minimum "qualifying offer" from the Thrashers, can only sign with another team if Atlanta declines to match the other team's offer. In that case, the other team has to compensate Atlanta with draft picks for poaching the player. That very rarely happens.

So with eight roster spots filled with players currently under contract or RFA's, Waddell and Dudley have to fill four more spots. They may do so by re-signing some or all of those UFA's, bringing in new UFA's, trading for players, bringing up prospects, or drafting NHL ready players.

We all know that NHL ready players are very rare in the draft. Especially once you get past the first five or six picks. The Thrashers don't project to have a top six pick this year, so even a draft like this one that is supposed to be "deep" won't likely produce someone you can plug right into your lineup for 2010-11.

I would expect Waddell to make strong pitches to Armstrong (who is rumored to want out, but his wife is a native, so don't discount him yet) and Fins. With the way Jimmy Slater has played in the latter half of the season, I would also expect him to be offered a deal, and can't imagine him leaving. If you could Jimmy as staying with the fold, then you need to fill 3 forward spots with some combination of pending UFA's Fins, R2, Boulton, or Armstrong, an outside RFA, trade, or prospect.

Teams don't like to keep their youth down in the minors without trying them out on the big squad, and Atlanta is looking stacked as far as forward prospects go. ranks Atlanta's stable the 6th strongest in the NHL. Between Cormier, Macachek, Leville, Morin, Klinberg, Crabb, and Postma, somebody is going to get a shot next year to fill one of those slots. Those are all guys who are expected to light the lamp in the NHL, so they won't be brought up just to occupy a spot on the 4th line, but 3rd liners get significant playing time in John Anderson's system.

With the in house UFA's and that crop of prospects, I wouldn't expect Thrashers' management to dive too deep into the free agent market for forwards this summer.

On to defense, here is the hand we're currently holding:






Kubina is a pending UFA, as are Schubert, Popovic and Chelios. Kulda looked good before the Olympic break and I would expect him to have a home in Atlanta in October. Kubina will receive a lucrative offer, but I have no way to gauge whether or not he'll be receptive to it. If he leaves, you can move Oduya up to his spot in that depth chart, put Kulda on the third pairing and look outside to fill the last spot and add some depth.

Vishnevskiy will also get a close look at training camp and might fit into that last roster spot, but we will still need an insurance defenseman for the inevitable injuries, suspensions, and the flu.

Trading away the obsolete Todd White, perhaps packaged with either a forward prospect or draft pick could bring in someone useful to bolster the defense as well.

Assuming Moose re-signs with Atlanta, which I absolutely expect he would, he and Ondrej will continue to tend the crease with MacIntyre coming up in emergencies.

It's not a daunting task for DW and Dudley this summer. Draft well and develop the young'uns, and this team's future looks bright.

For the Chronicle, I'm Razor Catch Prey.


j_barty_party said...

Razor!! We've got 20 games plus 4 more left to play...let's not fret about the summer just yet!

Mortimer Peacock said...

The near future will determine the slightly later future.

Shagging balls?

j_barty_party said...

Good to think about the future when it actually looks bright and not bleak. But don't forget that Mannino has been kicking D-Mac's ass all over the place. He's 2nd in the AHL in GAA. He might give Pavelec a run for his money if Ondrej doesn't improve his fundamentals.

Cheli, at 49 y/o, will be our 7th D-man and Asst Coach. Bogosian will get converted to RW and play opposite the "jukin' 'tyukhin" Evgeny Artyukhin. They will be centered by Dustin Brown, whom we acquire this summer in a trade so they can re-sign Alex Frolov. Brown will dish out 45 assists and Bogosian will score 25 goals. Arty will pot 15 and beat the living crap out of Colton Orr, Sean Avery, Shawn Thornton and Pierre McGuire (by accidental elbow when Pierre is criticizing JA between the benches on NBC's game of the week).

The L-A-B line stays intact and they eclipse the production of Hossa, Kozlov & (insert Center) from 2006-2007. Little scores 20 + and Bergie gets 35. Antro has 50+ assists and gets elected Prime Minister of Kazakhstan in 2010.

Kane - Pevs - Fins Fins resigns a year deal and moves to ATL. He and Elena buy the forgotten Stone Mtn Tennis Center and re-establish it as a ATP tour stop for years to come. Elena bumps into K-belle at the grocery store and they start talkin' hockey. Then baking. Then business. Major synergy alert.

Fins & Elena agree to front the capital to launch a juggernaut business venture featuring golf, condos, an ice rink, tennis courts, Cheli's Chilli, Hainsey's Off the Chainsey's Sandwich Shoppe and K-belle's Swedish inspired "Oduya Want Some Baked Goods" inside of the biggest IKEA ever built.

Speaker, K-belle and the Chronicle Staff become wildly rich and we buy the team from ASG. We buy out the lease and build a new arena next to our mixed use facility in East Cobb county. Shooter finally moves southward to oversee the maintainance of the golf course and landscaping. Morty becomes the Chief Director of Blogging & Marketing with Frenchy taking on a consulting role with the franchise. Frenchy also oversees the booking of concerts and music festivals that take place within the sprawling Cobb county-based entertainment center. All of Frenchy's bands take off and we become the richest, most powerful team in the NHL.

j_barty_party said...

Every city wants to model their team after ours. Bettman is usurped by the other owners who recommend Razor Catch Prey to be the new Commissioner of the NHL due to his keen foresight and ability to embrace change for the sake of the future of the game.

His first order of business is to relocate the Florida Panthers to Las Vegas and announces this decision from the Main Street Town Square in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Luckily, RCP is wearing a bullet-proof vest when he is shot by a masked man, who turns out to be Jim Basillie of RIM. Winnipeg is banned from any future involvement in the NHL.

Okay, where was I? Oh yeah, the 3rd line will look like this:

Arty - Brown - Bogosian

The 4th line will consist of some new blood since Marty decided to retire to work with the Speaker as Director of Golf Instruction and becomes the Head of Tournament Planning. Reasoner and RCP (famous GT alumnus that he is!) convince Stewart Cink to base his foundation's HQ at our metroplex of fun in Cobb County. Our country club ends up hosting the very lucrative Stewart Cink Foundation Thrasherville Cure for Cancer Golf Tournament. Stewart Cink uses his millions to not only cure cancer once and for all, but he helps launch the building of nearly a dozen new hockey rinks in the metro Atlanta area.

Kubina stays put because he loves playing with Toby Enstrom. Hainsey and Oduya continue playing well together and their joint restaurant venture becomes the talk of the Atlanta restaurant scene. Both earn Michelin Stars awarded to them personally by Gordon Ramsay, who asks to buy some of K-belle's cookie recipes so he can market them throughout Europe and China. K-belle becomes the next Betty Crocker and her face is plastered all over the packaging for 3 new amazing cookie concoctions.

Yep, that is forward thinking I can get behind!!

Mortimer Peacock said...



Your elegant dream has made me downright sick with longing. Surely this must happen.

I look forward to Elena and K'Belle's world famous tennis bakery.

swegs said...

so does swegs get a spot in all this mr speaker? or is he just destined to dominate fantasy hockey year in year out?