Thrash Talk: Looking Ahead

I know, amidst all these huge trades, an article about the Thrashers doesn’t exactly speak to what the masses want to hear (not that it ever did to begin with). Indulge me.

Barring a miracle, Atlanta is pretty much out of the playoff picture. All I can realistically hope for now is for them to ruin the stretch run of as many Eastern Conference teams as possible (rather have the miracle though but that goes without saying).

Gonna go a slightly different route this time, a little variety never hurts. News and rumors of course, but this one has more of a financial concept to it. A glimpse into the future, if you will. Let’s take a journey, shall we?

News and Notes

– Set a franchise record for shorthanded goals in a season with 10

– 6-0-1 against the Rangers in the last two years, one more game coming up on Tuesday

– Recent articles suggest that Kari Lehtonen may be called up soon to see his first NHL action this weekend when the Thrashers have back-to-back games against Carolina and Boston

– Patrick Stefan finally picking up the offense a bit, tallying 5 points in the last 3 games

Rumors

Still not known if Atlanta will be a seller at the deadline. Given the fact that this is a buyers market and the team is in good shape salary-wise (more on that below), there is no pressing need to trade effective players unless the return will really help the team in the long run. That has been more than proven by the fact that Waddell made a “substantial effort” to acquire an impact player in January when the team had 10 players out injured but apparently teams were only interested in Coburn and Lehtonen, who are not in the market to be moved. That being said, a few players are still being looked at by other clubs.

– Andy Sutton has garnered some interest from Nashville, looking to boost their playoff run. I don’t see much hope in that one but you can never tell, especially not these days.

– As mentioned before, the Leafs seem interested in Byron Dafoe provided that he is healthy by the deadline. The return wouldn’t be much to crow about given his impending UFA status.

– The most interest has gone to Shawn McEachern; hard working and can still skate like the wind. Around half a dozen teams have inquired about his services thus far. He would be a nice second-line player for teams needing a tad more offense, or an excellent third-line winger on some of the deeper teams.

– Any other possibilities are minor and not really worth going into.

With this season basically done, I got to thinking about how this team is positioned for the future in light of what will be a different NHL whenever next season starts up. So I did a little research on salaries, contracts and the like. My info might not be completely accurate but it is very close, and the inaccuracies are minor at best. Keep in mind that I’m including everyone in the organization signed to a contract, not just the players on the team currently. Here is the contract status of the players that I know of (couldn’t find the salaries for some of the guys in the minors).

Player——–Salary——Signed thru

Kozlov——–$3.5M——2006**

Lehtonen—–$1.175M—2006

McEachern—$2M——–2005*

Majesky——$850k—–2005

Sutton——–$775k—–2005

Piros———-$500k—–2005

Santala——-$425k—–2005

Dafoe———$3.5M—–2004

Savard——- $2M——-2004

Kaberle——-$1.5M—–2004

Stefan——–$1.15M—-2004

Kovalchuk—-$1.13M— 2004

Hurme——–$1.1M—–2004

Nurminen—–$1.1M—–2004*

Tamer——–$1.1M—– 2004*

Heatley——-$1.075M—2004

Tremblay—–$1.05M—-2004

Tjarnqvist—–$800k—-2004*

Grand-Pierre–$700k—-2004

Aubin———-$575k—-2004

Mackenzie—–$575k—-2004

Larsen———$565k—-2004

Cowan———$525k—-2004

Heins———–$500k—-2004

Robitaille——-$500k—-2004*

Lindsay——–$500k—–2004

Petrovicky—–$467k—-2004

Exelby———$450k—–2004

Lessard——–$450k—-2004

Vigier———-$450k—–2004

Swanson——-$450k— 2004

Kloucek——–$400k—-2004

Simon———-$400k—-2004

*Team Option

**Team/Player Option

– Atlanta has 14 players signed past this season, 5-7 of those will be on the team or at least have a shot at making the roster. That will come to salaries of between $8,525,000 and $9,450,000.

– There are 35 players set to become free agents. Only a handful will become Group III or Group VI free agents, the rest are restricted. Four players have options for an additional year, the only one which probably won’t be picked up is Chris Tamer. Those options are at or very near their current salaries. Now, I can’t accurately predict which players will be resigned and which won’t with this off-season making a mess out of everything. All I can tell you is that there were 25 potential free agents that have played significant time in the NHL this year for Atlanta, and their salaries total to $19,462,000.

I would think it’s fairly safe to assume that players such as Dafoe, Tamer and Lindsay will not be with the team next season. So that knocks off $5.1M of the above total. Some of the players not re-signed will likely be replaced with others of a similar salary. The only highly substantial raise will be given to Kovalchuk and possibly Heatley. Savard, Kaberle, Stefan, Petrovicky and Exelby could possibly garner a decent bump in salary.

Now I could work the numbers in a few dozen different ways, but even I’m not that compulsive to try. But just by a quick working of the possibilities leads me to believe that the Thrashers payroll going into next season will only be slightly higher than the $28.5M it is now, tack on $2M or maybe $3M more. That should leave the team with it’s core and bit players intact, and give them room to sign a big name or two regardless of what the new CBA brings. All in all, not a bad position to be in.

I have the strangest feeling that this day is important for some reason. Oh well, it’ll come to me. Cheers!


18 Responses to Thrash Talk: Looking Ahead

  1. markjohnston says:

    I heard they were trading kovalchuk and heatley to toronto for antropov and a third round pick.

    but seriously, great article. I guess one of the nice benefits of having a young team are all those low salaries.

  2. Killa_Bs says:

    I’ll take Shawn McEachern off your hands. He would be great back in Boston. Having him back would not be a problem for me.

    What do you want for him?

  3. eagle29 says:

    Great article.

    Toronto should get Dafoe or another vetren goaltender for inssurance in case Belfour gets hurt.

    I would like to see McEachern go to a contender if he does get traded.

  4. sensman99 says:

    Kovalchuk and Heatley for Antropov and a #rd round pick?

    That would be a complete ripoff to the Thrashers.

    I don’t think they’d give up their prime scoring core.

  5. the_expert_44 says:

    theyre gonna have a hard time paying both kovalchuk and heately

    why not trade them now while you can.

    as an isles fan id give u parrish and bates for heatley, and then peca for kovalchuk

  6. Kashin says:

    the thrashers and the panthers are very similar. Both great young teams with great futures.

    Florida has Luongo who stands on his head every night. Atlanta next year will have Keri Lehtonen one of the top goalie prospects in the league. They need defensive help next year.

    I think they will wait until the CBA is over to do something because they shouldnt risk for no reason. they have heatly kovalchuch lehtonen savard and kozlov. 5 possible all stars. add in mcceachern who can still do his thing not that bad of a core. robbataile and petrovicky were great pickups. if only stefan will wake up.

  7. markjohnston says:

    oh you think?

  8. markjohnston says:

    you really think the leafs can win without belfour?

    unless they get luongo or brodeur, no backup is going to result in wins for the leafs.

  9. Petr89 says:

    Kozlov isn’t exactly a spring chicken, so I think he’s reached his full potential. Definitely not an all-star, but a decent support player.

  10. mojo19 says:

    actualy mark, they could win with a solid goalie like Dafoe, they’re not the leafs of ’99 depending on Cujo to win them games, they have a great team, (belfour is still the MVP) but they’re more then just Ed.

  11. cwthrash says:

    They’ll probably get some big time raises, but nothing that would put the team’s finances on tilt. And even those raises probably won’t be like what we’ve seen before. Cap or no cap, the players know these overly huge paydays are ending.

    Remember, the Isles could have had Heatley. Of course you could still have Luongo too. Not trying to twist that knife too much.

    I kid.

  12. cwthrash says:

    If he gets traded, it’s possible the price could be higher than you think. A lot of teams are looking to get him. Not overly pricey, but moreso than you’d think given these recent trades.

    I think DW is still steaming from the fact he couldn’t get Sullivan. The Hawks knew he was desperate with all the injuries, and likely tried to gut him for one of our top three prospects which DW (rightly so) deems untradeable. If Mac does get traded which I personally don’t want him to, I’d like to see another team really overpay. But the way things are going now, that’s kinda unlikely. If he goes, look for it right around the deadline.

  13. Brigand says:

    Undoubtedly one of my favourite things about this site is when someone blatantly doesn’t get a sarcastic post.

  14. EmptyNetter says:

    Ok, Atlanta has a low payroll, their marquee players earn just over $1m each per year, Dafoe has one of two highest contracts but is expendable and a sure thing to be released at season’s end.

    In short, Atlanta is an exciting team to watch, and in Heatley’s absence this season they’ve shown that they’ve got much more depth than just Heatley and Kovalchuk. The fact that they spend their money wisely means they’ll keep growing so long as they maintain their fan base.

    Colorado and Detroit will always put together a competitive team, but it’s so vital to the NHL’s future that teams like Atlanta (and Ottowa, Vancouver, New Jersey) can build a competitive team with some patience and smart management.

    By the way, Thrash, how strong is the fan base in Atlanta? Atlanta is lucky to have you as a fan. Great article, very thorough.

  15. Doppelganger says:

    Finally, Tamer is gone. It has been 5 long years of number 4 providing at least one major defensive lapse a game. As for the other original Thrashers, Tremblay and Stefan, it is time for them to go too. While Thornton and Lecavlier became all stars during their fifth year in the league, Stefan is still in the 30 point range. As for one of my former favorites, Tremblay has done nothing but get injured and play bad defense this season. He is really only good on the power play and there is not room for him on that anymore. Without Tamer and Stefan, who am I going to make fun of at the games, probably Kloucek but he is going to be a goner at the end of the season too, if he lives that long. My only concern for the large amount of free agents is that Kovalchuk and Heatley may hold out. Particularly Kovalchuk, as Heatley has been injured and may have less leverage. If there is one trade I would love to see the Thrashers make between now and opening day next season, whenever that may be, it would be sending Stefan and a decent draft pick to Calgary for Reinprecht. He played with Heatley at Wisconsin and they would be great together on a line with Kozlov. Then Savard could play with Kovalchuk. Finally, I would also like to see them give Karl Stewart some more time in Atlanta, he played great in his four game stint earlier and he was the last person cut during training camp.

  16. cwthrash says:

    Atlanta fans are notorious for being fair-weather, so it’s always been a struggle for the Thrashers. But the city is gradually warming up to the sport and the team. It helps when nearly half of the city’s population is from up north, they already know the game very well.

    We’ll never have the base of places like Toronto or Minnesota but as long as this team can play an exciting brand of hockey and hopefully contend in the next year or two, we’ll be just fine. Those around the metro who weren’t hockey fans before are really starting to view it differently. I know this really isn’t the best calling card for sports, but what sports fan doesn’t like a game that is fast and violent? Southerners are no different, they just have to get used to seeing that big sheet of ice (kinda rare in the SE).

  17. cwthrash says:

    This offseason there’s no way of knowing which way the pendulum will swing, in favor of the players or owners. Either way, I think the players are now seeing that they can’t get some of the contracts they had in the last five years. They try to milk that cow again, and it’s likely to fall over dead right on them. I think leverage for all the players is going south.

    Now I still like Stefan. The top part of his draft was just brutal with slightly above average players. But he works hard and brings more than just offense, I don’t go for all that expectation garbage. 5th and 6th rounders have become stars, 1st rounders have flopped. It’s a crap-shoot. Still, if they could get Reinprecht for him, I say go for it.

    And I’m more than with you about Tamer and Tremblay. I like Tamer’s competitiveness but that still doesn’t make up for that awful skating. And Tremblay gets lucky to hit the boards behind the goal when he shoots, much less the goal itself. Out with the old, in with the new.

  18. Kashin says:

    Yeah on this is it like they get attention by the people in Atlanta and on the radio and newspapers. Or is it overlooked.

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