Nashville deals for pair of prospects

By Brian Roe

Kloucek Dealt For Pair of Atlanta Prospects

In an effort to unclog a crowded blueline, the Nashville
Predators traded defenseman Tomas
along with center Ben Simon
to the Atlanta Thrashers for two prospects, defenseman Kirill Safronov and forward Simon


Safronov, 22, has five points in 21 games with
the Chicago Wolves of the AHL this season. 
Safronov is 6’2”, 215 pounds and was a first round draft choice by the
Phoenix Coyotes in 1999.  The Russian
native notched four points and 16 penalty minutes in 35 career NHL games. 


Safronov is considered a two-way defenseman and
strong skater, but his play is inconsistent. 
The young defenseman has the potential to be a top-4 blueliner but so
far hasn’t lived up to expectations.


Gamache, also 22, has 11 points in 16 games with
the Chicago Wolves this year.  The 5’9”,
180-pound forward recorded 77 points in 76 games last season with Chicago.  The Quebec native recorded one assist in two
games with the Thrashers this year.  He
has played four games in the NHL, dating back to last spring. Gamache played
center in junior, but was switched to a wing position in the minors.


In junior and in the minors, Gamache has put up
good numbers.  The former ninth round
pick has had back-to-back seasons in which he notched triple digit points.  Playing for Val D’Or of the QMJHL, Gamache
scored 143 points in 74 games during the 1999-2000 season and 184 points
(including 110 assists) in 72 games during the 2000-2001 season. 


Safronov and Gamache have joined the Milwaukee
Admirals, where Gamache could center a line of right wing Scottie Upshall and left wing Timofei


Kloucek, 23, appeared in five games this season
for the Predators recording a single assist. 
He was acquired along with defenseman Marek Zidlicky and Rem
from the New York Rangers for goaltender Mike Dunham.  Once considered a top prospect, injuries
leave one to wonder if Kloucek will ever be the dominant, physical defenseman
he was projected to be. 


Simon, 25, has four points in 18 games this year
with the Admirals.  The gritty center
was with the Thrashers organization for three seasons prior to signing with


The Nashville blueline became unexpectedly
crowed with the emergence of top prospect Dan
, the strong play of newcomer Marek Zidlicky and the signings of Jason Allison and Stan Neckar. 


News and Notes


Safronov and Gamache each made their Milwaukee
debut on Wednesday night against their former teammates on the Chicago
Wolves.  Safronov recorded one shot on
goal and a +2 plus/minus rating and Gamache was even with one shot on
goal.  The Admirals won the game 4-1
over the Wolves and super prospect Kari Lehtonen.  Defenseman Andrew
and Upshall each had two goals, while center Darren Haydar and Shishkanov each added
an assist. 


Back in Nashville, right winger Jordin Tootoo was scratched again on
Wednesday night against the Carolina Hurricanes.  Head coach Barry Trotz is making a habit of scratching Tootoo on
the road and featuring him more at home to try to motivate his play.


Former Preds defenseman Tomas Slovak has three points in 13 games this season with the
Hershey Bears of the AHL and was reassigned to Reading of the ECHL on Nov.