Thrashers offseason prospect news and notes

By Holly Gunning






Age

Coming and going



There are two new faces on
the Atlanta Thrashers prospect list in addition to the eight 2005 draft
selections. One is two-way defenseman Mark Popovic, acquired last week
from the Anaheim Mighty Ducks for Kip Brennan. Popovic, who had 18 points in 74
games last season with Cincinnati, will be 23 in October, and has a decent
chance of making the roster out of camp. He
was originally selected 35th overall in the 2001 Entry Draft
by Anaheim.


Earlier this summer the
Thrashers signed Adam Smyth, who last season was under contract with the
AHL Chicago Wolves and played most of the year with the ECHL Gwinnett
Gladiators. Smyth made his hands
quite visible with 217 penalty minutes in 49 games with Gwinnett.
He will celebrate his 22nd birthday at the Traverse City
tournament. Times New Roman”>

Defensemen
Paul Flache and Libor Ustrnul were not re-signed.
Ustrnul, a second round pick in 2000 who had a series of injuries during
his time with the club, has since signed a contract in Europe, while Flache
remains a free agent.



Graduating
senior forwards Milan Gajic and Colin FitzRandolph went unsigned
and were allowed to become unrestricted free agents. Gajic was the 112th
overall pick in 2001, while FitzRandolph was the 201st.




Forward
Pat Dwyer, a 2002 pick, was not signed by the Thrashers, but he was inked
by affiliate Chicago Wolves, and will attend the Traverse City tournament.
The Thrashers organization no longer holds Dwyer’s NHL rights, but
obviously hasn’t completely cut ties with him at this point.




Derek Mackenzie no longer
qualifies as a prospect by Hockey’s Future criteria.
The former OHLer turned 24 in June.

Traverse City tournament

Twenty-two
Thrasher hopefuls and free agent invitees will participate in a prospect
tournament at Center I.C.E. Arena in Traverse City, Mich., from Sept. 6-10.


The team will compete against prospects
from the Detroit Red Wings, Minnesota Wild, Tampa Bay Lightning and Columbus
Blue Jackets. Five of the eight 2005 picks are on the roster.

To be
eligible to participate, players must have been born in 1982 or later. In
addition, each team can have up to four players with one year of professional
experience. The Thrashers are sending a very young team this year, the average
age just 19.5. Jim Slater is the
senior prospect on the roster at 22.

Invitees
include Dale Mahovsky, Hunter Tremblay, Ryan Martinelli and Wayne
Savage
. Savage was a teammate of Scott Lehman with Toronto St. Michael’s,
and Martinelli was a member of the Memorial Cup winning London Knights.
Only Mahovsky is old enough to turn pro this year.

AgeAcquired2004-05 Team
Forwards
Alex Bourret1816th overall, 2005Lewiston (QMJHL)
Guillaume Desbiens20116th overall, 2003Rouyn-Noranda (QMJHL)
Pat Dwyer22116th overall, 2002Western Michigan (CCHA)
Juraj Gracik19142nd overall, 2004Tri-City (WHL)
Jordan LaVallee19116th overall, 2005Quebec (QMJHL)
Dale Mahovsky20Free agent inviteeKootenay (WHL)
Chad Painchaud19106th overall, 2004Sarnia and Mississauga (OHL)
Tomas Pospisil18135th overall, 2005Trinec and Trinec Jr (Czech)
Brad Schell21167th overall, 2002Gwinnett (ECHL)
Jim Slater2230th overall, 2002Michigan State (CCHA)
Adam Smyth21Free agent signee 2005Gwinnett (ECHL)
Hunter Tremblay19Free agent inviteeBarrie (OHL)
Defensemen
Braydon Coburn208th overall, 2003Portland (WHL) and Chicago (AHL)
Chad Denny1849th overall, 2005Lewiston (QMJHL)
Scott Lehman1976th overall, 2004Toronto (OHL)
Lane Manson21124th overall, 2002Gwinnett (ECHL)
Ryan Martinelli18Free agent inviteeLondon (OHL)
Jimmy Sharrow20110th overall, 2003Halifax (QMJHL)
Myles Stoesz18207th overall, 2005Spokane (WHL)
Boris Valabik1910th overall, 2004Kitchener (OHL)
Goaltenders
Wayne Savage18Free agent inviteeToronto (OHL)
Dan Turple20186th overall, 2004Kitchener and Oshawa (OHL)

A
notable absentee from the roster is 2005 second round pick Ondrej Pavelec,
due to some paperwork issues. Dan Turple, a 2004 selection, will handle the
goaltending duties.



At
the conclusion of the tournament, players will be selected to advance to the
Thrashers training camp, which begins with physicals and medical testing on
Sept. 12 at the IceForum in Duluth. Invitees to main camp will be limited, due
to the long layoff from the lockout and a shorter training camp schedule.



On-ice workouts begin on Sept. 13. First cuts will likely be made on Saturday, Sept. 17.

AHL affiliation extended



The
Thrashers extended their affiliation with the Chicago Wolves, the team they’ve
been affiliated with since 2002-03 when the IHL folded and the previously
independent Chicago moved to the AHL.



“We’re
taking it one year at a time here, but we are talking about a multi-year deal as
we speak,” Waddell told Hockey’s Future recently. “We’re committed for sure for next year.
Not knowing how everything would shake out with this CBA, we didn’t
want to do anything that would tie either hand.
So we did a one-year extension and we are talking about a multi-year
deal. It fits well for us and I
think they like it too.”



Back to Gwinnett



The
Thrashers affiliation with the Gwinnett Gladiators will continue as well, a
relationship that has been very positive for both sides.
Projecting the players who will be assigned to the team is in fact easier
than the AHL at this point.



Lane
Manson
is almost certainly destined to be back to Gwinnett, where he can get
a lot of ice time. The increased importance of skating due to the NHL rule
changes raises the hurdle even higher for the 6’8 defender.



“I
think Lane made some steps. I think he’s got bigger steps to go yet,”
Waddell said of Manson’s play last season. “He’s still got to learn to use
his size and strength more to his advantage. The trouble with Gwinnett and the league in general is that
you often play short rosters. [Head coach]
Jeff Pyle had him stay away from a lot of the fisticuffs.
His strength is being physical and he went through some times last year
where I watched him and I didn’t think he was physical enough.
But some nights they were playing with four or five defensemen, which
goes with the territory. But Lane’s a guy that if his feet catch up with the rest of
his body — he’s not a dumb kid, he’s a smart kid and he knows the game.
He’s still a project. We
still have hope for him and this year will be another good test for him,
regardless of where he plays. The
most important thing for Lane Manson right now is to play games, not to be a
sixth guy in Chicago. If he can
play in your top four or five, great, if not and he’s back here (Gwinnett),
fine. Obviously he’d be one of Jeff’s workhorses.
The most important thing for him is to be on the ice and playing.”



Goaltender
Adam Berkhoel will almost certainly be back in Gwinnett as well, after an
injury-shortened season. Pat Dwyer
is another likely returnee, for at least part of the season.



There
will likely be a new tough guy in town, however.
Smyth can be penciled in for Chicago, and rookie Guillaume Desbiens
for Gwinnett.




Atlanta Thrashers Gear


Copyright 2005 Hockey’s
Future. Do not reprint or otherwise duplicate without permission of
the editorial staff.