Thursday, February 26, 2009

As Deadline Draws Near, the Thrashers May Move Significant Pieces

With less than a week to go before the NHL trade deadline, the Atlanta Thrashers are continuing to look for ways to improve their team.

Having already moved Mathieu Schneider, the Thrashers are still interested in moving Ron Hainsey and his contract, which will pay him $4.25 million for the next five seasons, and Niclas Havelid, who will be an unrestricted free agent at season's end.

Rumors are also swirling today that the team is having difficulty in its negotiations with the agent for netminder Kari Lehtonen, and are seriously considering moving him before Wednesday's deadline.

"In my opinion, I'd like to re-sign him," Thrashers coach John Anderson told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "I've seen what he can do. That's more of (Lehtonen's) decision than ours. I can't speak for (GM Don Waddell). I haven't sat down particularly to talk to him about Kari. I'm sure Don would love to re-sign Kari."

Teams rumored to be interested, according to the report on, include the Senators, the Flyers (but probably only if they can move Martin Biron), and the Red Wings (the most likely destination according to a couple of sources).

The reason for the trade rumors is based on Lehtonen's contract status, which makes him a restricted free agent at season's end. He also would be arbitration eligible, and negotiations have not been going well up til this point.

The natural pick to replace Kari in goal should he be traded is youngster Ondrej Pavelec, who at the age of 20 just won AHL Player of the Week, going 3-1 with a 1.25 GAA and .963 save percentage for the Wolves.

This comes on the heels of a stretch where Lehtonen has played some of his best hockey of the season, beating the Ducks in Anaheim and holding teams like the Blackhawks and Sharks in check in the process.

Random Notes:

-Read an interesting article about Tobias Enstrom replacing Ron Hainsey on the Thrashers' first power play line. My initial thought is that this was a subtle signal that Atlanta is close to moving Ron. Judge for yourself by clicking here.

-Another interesting profile from the folks at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution about youngster Colin Stuart, who is racking up short-handed goals for Atlanta as of late. Here's the link: "Stuart, Thrashers Thriving Short-Handed"

-In about 20 minutes, the Thrashers are taking the ice against the Washington Capitals in the nation's capital. Stay tuned to the blog for the game recap when the final horn sounds.

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