Superstar forward Ilya Kovalchuk made it clear to the front office that unless management takes strides to build a bona fide contender, he will elect to sign elsewhere, as his contract expires at the end of the 2009-10 season.
Abracadabra! The Thrashers signed Nik Antropov. Kovalchuk will be a Thrasher for life!
The signing of Antropov is about as effective as removing a pebble behind a tire before pulling out of a parking spot., while Kovalchuk remaining a Thrasher is as likely as…well, the notion itself is a default impossibility!
Kovalchuk asked for a thunderstorm and got an artificial drizzle.
Is Antropov that bad? No, not really. But he’s not the solution.
“They speak the same language,” you might say. Only literally is the appropriate rebuttal. On the ice, it’ll be like calling Verizon’s customer service.
The Thrashers have some pieces in place to be a successful franchise, despite a fan base that would rather watch stationary helicopters. They lack star power and productive depth on offense and consistency on defense.
Can Kari Lehtonen be “the” guy?
With the players that were available when free-agency kicked in to gear on July 1, the Thrashers could’ve gone out and signed players that would dispute the aforementioned deficiencies.
Antropov and defenseman Pavel Kubina will not be enough to get this team over the hump.
Did they play well down the stretch last season? Sure they did. Could it have been a sign that good things were but a season away? Sure it could have.
By the same token, however, it could’ve simply been a nice little run.
If things don’t start looking up quickly in Atlanta, Kovalchuk’s agent will be working the phones and the sniper will mentally prepare for his new life in the NHL with a different team. That would lead to a colossal overhaul, yet again.
GM Don Waddell ought to look to bring in another piece near the beginning of the season, because losing ground early can be too much for this team to overcome.