Today I break down the pros and cons of trading the forwards on the Atlanta Thrashers roster (in part one I examined the defense and goaltenders).
MOST LIKELY TO BE TRADED
|2008 - Marty Reasoner||59||10||12||22||8||26||0||0||0||0||97||10.3|
Age: 32, 2009-10 Salary Cap Cost: ?? UFA
Reasoner has done almost everything the Thrashers could ask from a third line checking centermen. He has played hard most nights and he has a positive Corsi number on a team where most forwards have negative numbers.
If I were GM I'd offer him a contract for next year and only trade him if he declines to sign it. The only disappointment I have regarding Reasoner is that the Thrashers PK unit didn't improve all that much with his addition. The Thrashers PK unit never really recovered from losing their most effective PK guy--some guy named Marian Hossa who was traded away one year ago.
|2008 - Eric Perrin||5||10||15||-6||18|
Age: 33, 2009-10 Salary Cap Cost: ?? UFA
Perrin is a guy most NHL fans probably don't notice in a hockey game, but he could be a useful complimentary on a contender. He has been one of the most effective PKers for the Thrashers the last two seasons. In a pinch he has the speed and skill to fill in on a scoring line if injury opens up a spot. The downside is that he can be easily checked off the puck because he is so small. He's not big enough to be a checking line crash-and-bang player and he's not quite skilled enough to be a regular scoring line guy. But he could be a good depth/injury insurance policy for a team hoping for a long playoff run.
COULD BE TRADED
|2008 - Colby Armstrong||62||15||10||25||-3||63||2||0||2||0||101||14.9|
Age: 26, 2009-10 Salary Cap Cost: ?? RFA
There has been a lot of chatter about Colby Armstrong this year. I suspect that some of that chatter is being generated by teams that WANT to add Armstrong to their mix. As for the Thrashers GM Don Waddell made it clear to Kevin Allen that the organization appreciates what he brings to the team. Armstrong is a plus 3rd line winger and perhaps a below average 2nd line winger. He brings grit, determination, hitting, leadership and a surprising amount of scoring. The Thrashers need all of those attributes. In light of Colby's strengths I don't anticipate him being traded unless a trading patner over pays or unless Armstrong has requested a trade.
|2008 - Todd White||62||16||38||54||-10||22||10||1||0||0||105||15.2|
Age: 33, 2009-10 Salary Cap Cost: $2.375 Million
In the summer of 2007 the Thrashers and Minnesota Wild effectively swapped centers via free agency. Eric Belanger went to the Wild and Todd White came to Atlanta. Last year Todd White had a fairly disappointing season falling from 44 points to just 37 (74 GP)--but he did match Eric Belanger. This current season White has rebounded nicely and is on pace to finish with a career high 71 points (Belanger is on pace for 41 points).
Todd White is a hard case in my opinion. When he is producing offensively (like this year) you can overlook his small stature and lack of physical play. However, if he is not putting points on the board, he's not bring that much to the table. He's a nice complimentary guys, he's adequate on the PK and the PP but not outstanding at either. He's neither cheap not expensive. He is getting up there in years, but he still has his speed.
If the Thrashers knew for sure that a young center like Tavares or Angelo Esposito was ready to step into the NHL next season it might be clever to trade White in the midst of his career years (sell high!). On the other hand he is an affordable insurance policy for one of the scoring lines heading into next season.
|2008 - Jim Slater||46||5||9||14||-1||30||0||1||0||0||68||7.4|
Age: 26, 2009-10 Salary Cap Cost: ?? RFA
The Thrashers are not a playoff team because they don't have enough guys who with NHL talent. This will sound harsh, but Jim Slater is one of the reasons the Thrashers are not a playoff team, he's part of the problem and not part of the solution. When Jim Slater is out killing penalties the Thrashers get lit up by the opposition (this was true last season too). Slater is very fast while moving straight ahead but has poor balance and lateral mobility. He lacks the hands to finish of scoring chances that his raw speed creates. Simply put he has NHL speed but lacks NHL hands or NHL balance. I would trade him just to open a roster spot for younger checking forward who might be part of the next Thrasher team to contend. Because he was a late 1st round pick he's been overpaid his entire NHL career, 4th line guys who make nearly $1 million are a waste of scarce resources.
|2008 - Erik Christensen||45||5||12||17||-9||12||1||0||0||0||87||5.7|
Age: 25, 2009-10 Salary Cap Cost: ?? RFA
Acquired in the big Marian Hossa deal with Pittsburgh one year ago, Christensen has been an unmitigated bust so far this year. Supposedly a talented guy who just needed more playing time, Christensen was handed 1st line minutes on Kovalchuks' line and regular PP duty--and proceeded to do almost nothing with that opportunity. So far this season he has shown the finishing touch a 4th line forward.
Christensen is a scoring forward who neither scores nor hits--he is one of the major reasons the Thrashers are not contending for the playoffs. All "promise" and no "performance" for most of his career. If you take a look at Christensen's hockey career, he has had one outstanding season at age 18 and that's it. That was 7 years ago. How much longer are the Thrashers going to wait before cutting bait on this guy? This is one guy who ought to thank the heavens he can stink anonymously in Atlanta and instead of being roasted alive as he would in Toronto or Calgary. Next stop AHL or Europe.
|2008 - Eric Boulton||56||2||7||9||-1||132||0||0||0||0||48||4.2|
Age: , 2009-10 Salary Cap Cost: $0.6 million
Eric Boulton has been fighting to keep a NHL job all season--literally. He has dropped the gloves more often this season than in prior years. He has to keep doing that on a regular basis to earn a 4th line spot. Why? Simply put when Eric Boulton is out on the ice the Thrashers are our shot badly. If you're not winning the shot battle you better bring something else to the table. The Thrashers would rather see Boulton sit in the box for 5 minutes than Boris Valabik, but Boulton doesn't provide much intimidation at this point.
|2008 - Chris Thorburn||62||6||6||12||-7||74||0||0||0||0||70||8.6|
Age: 25, 2009-10 Salary Cap Cost: ?? RFA
He's OK as a checking line guy. Not outstanding at hitting, not outstanding in position play, lacks top end speed. Never used on the PK. He's cheap. Probably couldn't crack the roster of a playoff team. The Thrashers need to upgrade his spot to contend. I can't imagine any playoff team offering anything for him.
UNLIKELY TO BE TRADED
|2008 - Ilya Kovalchuk||62||32||34||66||-13||35||10||0||4||1||211||15.2|
Age: 25, 2009-10 Salary Cap Cost: $6.4 million
The subject of numerous trade rumors early in the season, Kovalchuk's was named captain mid-season which was a signal that he was not going anywhere. The team can not make him an offer on a contract extension until this summer--which will be a make or break couple of weeks. Kovalchuk and the team will have decisions to make. If he doesn't want to re-sign the organization would be wise to make a deal during the summer and avoid the sturm und drang associated with the countdown to the Hossa tread in 2008.
|2008 - Vyacheslav Kozlov||62||18||35||53||-16||34||8||0||2||0||116||15.5|
Age: 36, 2009-10 Salary Cap Cost: $3.67 million
Many teams migh like to add Slava to their playoff roster, but he has a no trade clause and is unlikely to go anywhere at the trade deadline unless he wants to go somewhere. He turned down more money from Dallas when he was on the UFA market. People have told me that his family really likes Atlanta and seems to matter to Kozlov (who already has two Stanley Cup rings). After setting a career high playing opposite Hossa, his numbers collapsed last year as he played ALL 82 games with two major injuries (why was he still playing after they were eliminated?). This year he has rebounded playing with Little and is on pace for at least 60 points.
|2008 - Bryan Little||59||25||16||41||-4||14||9||0||3||0||134||18.7|
Age: 21, 2009-10 Salary Cap Cost: $0.9 million
He's young, he's talented, he's inexpensive and he's not going anywhere.
|2008 - Rich Peverley||46||8||20||28||2||19||1||1||3||0||80||10.0|
Age: 26, 2009-10 Salary Cap Cost: $0.487 million
Ilya Kovalchuk can be a tricky player to play with. Rich Peverley has shown that he can mesh with just about anyone on the Thrashers roster including Kovalchuk. He's very cheap and a revenue poor team like Atlanta is unlikely to trade someone so useful and cost effective.
The Thrashers have only two obvious trade candidates (Reasoner, Perrin) the rest of the team falls into two catagories 1) too valuable to trade (Little, Armstrong, Kovalchuk, Peverley) or 2) not good enough to draw much interest (Slater, Thorburn, Boulton, Christensen). Todd White is the one guy who could be a surprise mover on trade day if a team wants to add him for the playoff race but the $2.4 he is owned next year is likely an impediment to cap max teams.