There are less than 48 hours until Ilja Kovalchuck will be selected 1st overall in the 2001 entry draft; the first ever Russian to be the top pick. It is clear by now that Kovalchuck is what interests the Thrashers most. “We’re certainly very high on the Russian player. We’re going to follow up this week, meet again with the top three or four players in the draft. Yeah, as I sit here today, you know, the Russian is very high on our list. We think he’s a dominant player. Could be a potential superstar.” Waddell says.
“This is probably the most important thing that’s happened to the franchise in its short three years.” (the 1st overall pick) ” How we deal with this pick could definitely be the biggest thing for the next five or six years that this franchise has to deal with.”
Most NHL Gm’s are currently in Florida at this moment. There has been many rumours on trading the pick to the Buffalo Sabres or the Montreal Canadiens. Waddell says he has spoken to Montreal GM, Andre Savard on his goaltenders and his draft picks. But says there “isn’t anything on the table” at the moment. Montreal GM Andre Savard says he is very interested in gaining the 1st overall pick to select Kovalchuck, but is not willing to let go of Theodore. Maybe Garon and the 7th overall pick.
Why are most trade rumours about goalies heading to Atlanta? It’s simple. The Thrashers need a good young goalie. They have veteran, Damian Rhodes who was injured for most of the last season. They also have Norm Maracle who was goaltender of the IHL this year. But they need a young goalie who can make a definit impact and stay with the organization for years. “We don’t have any young goaltenders in the organization. We said all along if we can add a young goaltender, doesn’t necessarily have to be ready to play today, but could be a No. 1 guy, that’s the important factor, could be a No. 1 guy in our mind in the next few years, be our goalie for eight or ten years. We’d have to look at that type of package.”
Waddell is 75 % sure of keeping the pick at the moment but sure of course if a team has an excellent offer Waddell can’t refuse then he’ll accept it. “We’ve said all along that, you know, we definitely like some of the top players, but we also feel that we have other needs for our hockey club. And we’re a young organization that needs assets. We’d be foolish not to look at different options, different packages that have and will be presented to us.”
“Definitely today the older player would help us. But when we look at our young guys, we have Dany Heatley that we took No. 2 overall, Patrik Stefan that we believe really started to come out the last third of the season, you know. We could have some pretty good forwards for a long time. Certainly you have to be careful not to get caught up in the immediate future. The future is important. Today is important. But, yet, long-term, you know, we’re a franchise that’s going to be around for the long-term. If we could build around these type of young players, hopefully we’re not picking at the bottom like this every year, but if we could build around these type of players, we think it would be pretty good up front for many years to come.”
I’ll keep you updated with what happens in the next 48 hours.
(Quotes courtesy of atlantathrashers.com interview with Don Waddell.)