Do The Thrashers Have Large Talons?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Will Derek Meech Become a Thrasher?

The Thrashers are lacking in depth at defense right now. A single injury on the blueline would result in Nathan Oystrick or Grant Lewis getting a call up. Both are prospects with no NHL experience so far. Last year the team carried Kwiatkowski as their insurance policy in the case of long term injury on the blueline.

I was already thinking the Thrashers might be in the market to pick up depth defensemen and then Kevin Allen writes that the Thrashers "hope to land another defensemen, possibly even unrestricted free agent Marek Malik, although they are considering other options."

Now this might seem like idle speculation, but past history indicates that Kevin Allen and Don Waddell are on good terms and speak frequently, so I'm thinking he got this straight from the GM himself. Allen goes on to highlight players expected to be moved during NHL training camp: Ducks D Mathieu Schneider and Sharks D Kyle McLaren and also includes center Robert Lang.

I'd like to toss out another name that does not appear in Allen's article, Red Wings D Derek Meech. The Wings have re-signed Chelios which now gives them 8 NHL defensemen who must clear waivers. Now it is likely they will carry 7 out of camp, and there is some chatter that Meech might be dealt to get them down to that number.

Will the Thrashers make that deal? Personally I'd rather see them go after a youngish defensemen like Meech and see if he flourishes with more ice time in Atlanta than Malik who is getting up there. According to Ranger fans, Malik's play slipped badly last season, although a number of stats still show him as being effective.


  • What do you think about Knuble still? Ben said that he is under contract another year with Philly, and he thinks that it won't happen. It is not even a rumor circulating.

    I wouldn't mind Meech from Detroit or Lang from Chicago. 21 G, 33 A, +9 at age 36 or 37? Pretty good.

    By Anonymous Steve, at 7:32 PM  

  • Knuble could be a decent addition if the price is right. But he's not young and will probably not be part of the next contending Thrashers squad. I'd be much more excited about adding Meech who might still be on our roster in 2010.

    By Blogger The Falconer, at 8:43 PM  

  • Here's my problem with all this trade or FA speculation. Unless we move out one of our current older roster players, whoever comes in here is going to take away ice time from someone else - the likely someone else's being our own young prospects. If we bring in another d-man, then either Klee or Exelby has to go. The only other option is Valabik won't play up here this year. (I cannot fathom Bogosian not making the roster - his salary alone is too critical.) If we bring in another center, then we have to move either White or Slater to make room. And does that center take time away from Christensen or Little who need to be challenged to develop better skills?

    Additionally, I'm not really in the mood to move assets for more short-term solution players or 2-4th liners. We need true top-line calibre talent, which is not currently available.

    Bottomline for me - I want the kids playing this year to get experience and develop. So I'd just as soon see Don pass on any trade right now.

    By Anonymous Sara, at 8:48 PM  

  • Sara: that's why if the Thrashers add a defensemen I'd rather it be a younger guy like a Meech who might be around for a while.

    On the other hand, teams that make major improvements on defense tend to have 6 really solid guys.

    By Blogger The Falconer, at 10:53 PM  

  • If the Thrashers are planning on picking up another defenseman, Exelby needs to be moved. McCarthy and X both had 7 points last season. Mac was a -23 while X was -21. I believe the writing is on the wall for Exelby.

    Kenny McCudden had him working on his skating the other morning in practice while the other guys were running drills. After 6 years of playing pro hockey, skating should be second nature and it is very apparent it is not for Exelby.

    Every member of our blueline brings something to the table except Exelby, who seems to be pacing himself to get through the rest of his career injury free, concussions included. A tough guy who no longer plays a very tough game with no offensive upside isn't much use.

    By Anonymous blankspace6, at 2:54 AM  

  • Sara,
    Good point! Maybe we should get a younger d-man like Meech, let the young guys develop, let White play out his contract and not resign him unless he plays better this year. Same with Slater. Slater was touted as this great college player who would make the jump from Michigan State to the NHL. He improved slowly last year. He score more in the last month, but we need him to be more consistent the whole season to prove his worth. If he can't do that here, then maybe he should go somewhere else. Maybe Buffalo? He could join Ryan Miller like old times.

    By Anonymous Steve, at 11:19 PM  

  • By the way,Robert Lang was signed by Montreal today. If you don't believe me, look at for today's headlines. Well, that option is now gone too!

    By Anonymous Steve, at 11:41 PM  

  • Steve, White still has three years left IIRC on his contract so the only way we are getting rid of him is to trade him, waive him, or buy him out.

    Something to keep in mind is a lot of players like White or Slater look bad because they have been either improperly utilized by this franchise (expected to fill a role beyond their capabilities ie White) or because people set too high of expectations for them (ie Slater). While it certainly helps for Slater to pot a few now and again, it isn't his job to carry the team's offense. That's for the first two lines to do. Third and fourth line guys are role-players - chip in some, be defensively responsible, provide some energy. Our fourth line was a great energy line last year - they could forecheck and cycle down low quite well. Slater is also emerging as a solid PKer - he spent way less time on the PK than Dupuis did but yet scored only one less SH goal. He and Perrin I hope will be paired up again this season in those roles. Slater is also cheap, has a great attitude, and works hard. I imagine he will eventually be replaced with Holzapfel if Riley ever makes it up but for right now, he isn't a *bad* option at 4th line C.

    By Anonymous Sara, at 10:32 AM  

  • I have my doubts about Slater ever being a useful PK guy. Why? His lateral skating is just brutal. He has great straight away speed but when he has to turn he often loses control. On the PK a forward is almost always moving side-to-side rather than up and down in the zone.

    By Blogger The Falconer, at 11:01 AM  

  • Sara,
    True about White. I think fans did expect a lot out of him, but he was on that first line, then moved to 2nd line. When on the first line, that is going to happen. White started strong, and then faded. But we need a first line center. That fact hasn't changed. He would make a good 2nd or third line center not a 1st line center.

    You are also right about the expectations of Slater, but here is a guy who also played well in college in Michigan, and many have been waiting to put up comparable numbers or better numbers in the NHL to show his progress, but he has not yet done so. He has improved steadily, and you are right he does ok for a 4th liner.
    Falconer was dead on about his skating. I saw Slater do well on breakaways, but he loses some control on his lateral movement. I remember he was injured, and wonder if that injury hampered that movement. Also, he did play the PK less than Dupuis until Dupuis was traded. But to suddenly be expected to take over that role so quickly may not produce so many results. I am just saying that Slater is going to have to step it up if he is going to stay. You are right, Sara; he is cheap right now. So, we can afford to keep him. I like him. I think he is making pretty good progress, but considering the needs of this team, they need more from him. I hope he does improve and stays. It would be nice to have a good young American player on our team that does well. I say that because many of our players are from Canada or Europe, and Slater is one of the few Americans on the team last year. But now, we have more Americans. Reasoner and Bogosian are from NY, Hainsey from CT, Klee was the other American and from Indy, Sterling from LA, Motzko and Stuart from Minny. So, we have more Americans. Nothing against Canadians and Europeans, it is just nice to see Americans on an American team. Anyhow, just wanting to have everyone play better or have better players replace the ones that are not pulling their weight. This comes after years of mediocrity. I think that Slater is going to have to prove more to management if he is going to stay.

    I would not mind seeing Riley Holzapfel move up or Jordan Lavallee either. Lavallee has a little ways to go, but Riley could be ready any time I hope. Not sure. I think he needs to spend some time in Chicago, and then let's see what happens.

    Valabik, if he can learn to play smarter with his size, could be very effective. If he learns how to play smarter and provide some good outlet passing, then he would be great. He could become our Zdeno Chara!

    By Anonymous Steve, at 8:31 AM  

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