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Where there's Smoke, there's...a Trade?

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Thrasher fans it certainly appears that Atlanta and Chicago are in the midst of some trade talks. Atlanta had a scout at a recent Blackhawk game and then yesterday Chicago had two representatives including GM Tallon. Given our needs at center and the Hawks roster I presume that it is Brian Smolinski who is the object of the Thrashers desire. "Smoke" is in the final year of his modest contract and certainly would not bust the budget.

Smolinski is 35 and hails from northern Ohio just south of where I grew up. His age is a bit of concern, I don't know how much he has left in the tank. Before being traded to Chicago this summer Smolinski was the 2nd line center for the talented Ottawa Senators. In his last two full seasons with Ottawa he managed to put up 46 and 48 points which is decent for a 2nd line center. He is on pace for the same point totals this year in Chicago but is playing on their top line at times because of all their injury problems. His 29 points so far this season is more than any center on the Thrashers roster (Glen Metropolit has 24). Another "plus" for Smolinski is his plus/minus. He put up an outstanding +20 two years ago in Ottawa and has managed a +4 for a weak Blackhawks squad this year.

This is the big question: Is Brian Smolinski the solution for our top line and our power play problems? Well I looked at his three most recent years. His last two seasons in Ottawa he did not receive a lot of power play ice time. He appears to be have been on their 2nd PP unit from what I can gather. Now Ottawa is blessed with a ton of talent so is no shame playing on their second unit, but it does mean that among their forwards the coaching staff considered him their 5th or 6th best PP forward. Surprisingly his PP ice time in Chicago has not much higher. This might be explained in part by a dearth of PP opportunities for a lowly Hawks team. His efficiency has also slipped with Chicago but then again he hasn't been playing with the most skilled teammates there.


Age Season Team PP TOI by Game PP Points Minutes between PP Points
35 06-07 CHI 3:09 8 22.9
34 05-06 OTT 3:18 16 16.7
32 03-04 OTT 2:30 11 15.6


Is he the answer? It is hard to tell. He would certainly get more Power Play minutes here and he has experience playing some talented wingers in Ottawa. He's no Peter Forsberg (but then again I didn't think Peter Forsberg looked like his old self on Sunday either), but he would appear to be better than any current center on the Atlanta roster. If he bumps Niko Kapanen to the bench I would be thrilled by that development.