Thrashers Training Camp Update #2

By Holly Gunning

The latest cuts

Cut on 9/25: Forwards Zdenek Blatny, Simon Gamache, Mark Hartigan, Ben Simon and Brad Tapper, and defensemen Joe DiPenta and Pauli Levokari.

What those cuts mean

Brad Tapper’s quick reassignment to the AHL was a graphic illustration of the progress of the team. Tapper was once on the bubble, but the additions of more skilled players have pushed him down the organizational chart. He was re-signed to a new two year contract over the summer, but it appears that his role will be in a depth/insurance capacity.

Mark Hartigan’s early demotion means that management was able to tell that he’s not ready for prime time just yet, which may or may not have anything to do with his recovery from the hamstring injury last season. A star in college, he needs to get going in the AHL before an almost guaranteed call up later in the year.

Pauli Levokari was an expected reassignment. This is his first year in North America and he needs time to adjust to the game as it is played here. GM Don Waddell thinks the guy’s skill level is “pretty darn good” and “has a real good chance” of playing with the big club in the next two to three years. Levokari’s got some real work to do in the minors in the meantime.

Prospects left in camp

Forwards: Piros, Vigier, Butsayev,Snyder, Lessard


Defensemen: Safronov, Exelby, Weaver, Foster

Outlook for each prospect remaining

Each prospect’s likelihood of making the roster is listed in parentheses at the end of the paragraph.

Piros, C: Right now it looks like the only thing that will keep him off the opening night roster is if the Thrashers go out and acquire another scoring center (or Butsayev suddenly steps up). The team is currently examining the market, but no deals are in the works yet. Don’t forget that Piros started the season with the Thrashers last year due to Ray Ferraro’s knee injury. And Piros started out centering Kovalchuk and Heatley, not a bad way to make your NHL debut. (High likelihood of making roster)

Butsayev, LW,C: Good at both ends of the ice, Butsayev can play center or wing. This versatility will give him a decent chance of making the roster. His late arrival to camp hurt him in the sense that others were able to make good impressions first. (Medium to high likelihood)

Vigier, RW: The additions of McEachern and Kozlov hurt Vigier the most, a guy who otherwise might have made the roster this year. Now he’ll probably serve in a depth capacity. Injuries are bound to happen, and if they happen during camp, he may be on the opening night roster. (Medium)

Snyder, C: A back injury will likely cause him to start the year in Chicago. The fourth line is too crowded to put someone who hasn’t been skating in to start the season. (Low, for now)

Lessard, RW: Tough guy converted from D to wing, noise is being made by management that he might make the roster. It remains to be seen if it will actually happen though. (Medium)

Safronov, D: Management wants him on the team, and says it “sure looks like he’ll make the team this year” and play in the top four in the next couple years. He has played in all three preseason games so far as Coach Fraser tests him in different situations. (High)

Exelby, D: This tough defenseman has fought in both preseason games he’s played in, trying to make an impression. He might be ready for a look in the NHL, but given the depth on D, he’ll have to wait a little longer. (Low)

Weaver, D: He’s a depth defenseman, but he’s having a good camp and being rewarded for it by sticking around a bit longer. With the new defensive system that’s being implemented this year, it’s beneficial for the depth guys to be around to learn it and buy into it. (Very low)

Foster, D: Again a good camp is being rewarded. He has turned some heads, but after only half a year pro, he has more developing to do before he’s ready for the big show. He’ll almost surely be sent down in the next round of cuts. (Very low)

Preseason game vs. Nashville 9/28/02

Lineup:

Butsayev-Heatley-Kallio
Bartecko-Stefan-Kozlov
Vigier-Piros-Cowan
Herperger-Rheaume-Odgers

Krupp-Safronov
Smehlik-Weaver
Exelby-Sutton

Hnilicka played the entire game and gave up 4 goals on 39 shots.

Butsayev and Weaver both played their first preseason games in this 4-4 tie against Nashville. Some new line combinations were experimented with in this game. Heatley was tried at center for the first time this year. Piros played without Kovalchuk on his wing for the first time. Stefan and Kozlov each scored two goals.

Preseason scoring

With three preseason games played, the official scoring statistics look like this (some players with no stats who have already been sent down are not recorded):

 
Pos
GP
G
A
PTS
PIMs
Shots
KozlovRW
2
2
1
3
2
2
StefanC
2
2
1
3
4
9
KallioRW
2
2
0
2
2
7
BarteckoLW
2
1
1
2
0
3
KovalchukLW
2
1
1
2
6
7
Heatley RW
2
1
1
2
0
6
McEachernLW
2
1
1
2
0
6
FosterD
1
0
2
2
2
3
PirosC
3
0
2
2
0
1
SafronovD
3
0
1
1
2
6
TjarnqvistD
2
0
1
1
0
0
HrkacC
2
0
1
1
2
0
ButsayevRW/C
1
0
1
1
0
1
SmehlikD
2
0
1
1
0
3
TapperRW
1
0
1
1
2
1
ExelbyD
2
0
0
0
23
1
SuttonD
2
0
0
0
11
3
LessardRW/D
1
0
0
0
4
1
DiPentaD
1
0
0
0
2
0
SimonC
1
0
0
0
2
2
RheaumeC
2
0
0
0
2
2
OdgersRW
2
0
0
0
2
5
WeaverD
1
0
0
0
2
1
VigierRW
2
0
0
0
0
0
TamerD
1
0
0
0
0
0
KruppD
2
0
0
0
2
3

Stefan and Kozlov lead the team in preseason scoring after three games with two goals and one assist. Eight players have two points, including Kallio with two goals. Only two players have played all three games: Safronov and Piros. Both are players who are likely to make the lineup. Exelby and Sutton lead the team in penalty minutes. Neither Snyder, Svartvadet, Tremblay nor Kaberle have yet returned to game action from injury.

The Thrashers are now 1-1-1 in the preseason and play Tampa Bay next on Tuesday.

Comments and questions are welcomed on the HF Thrashers Message Board.