The Thrashers continued lopping at the camp roster today, sending down Welch, Machacek and Holzapfel to the Chicago Wolves. Patrice Cormier, he of the broken foot, will be starting the season on the injured reserve. If you remember, Cormier broke it on the last day of rookie camp blocking a shot in a prospect game that his team was going to lose. That takes either heart or stupidity, or a mix of both. Actions like that show why Cormier was considered a locker room leader during prospect camp, and one of the most (some might say overly) hyped players of the offseason heading into training camp. Speculation assumed that a roster spot was Cormier’s to miss out on – and that probably was true – though his broken foot might leave room for Fredrik Pettersson to scoot into the roster. Pettersson’s playing so well (more on that over on NHLHotstove.com later) that justifying not having him on the opening night roster will be difficult.
Instead of on the ice, Cormier will start the new season on injured reserve. The Thrashers put him on IR instead of sending him down to the Wolves to be put on their IR, since players are on the injured reserve at the level that they got injured. They’d have to be physically cleared to get sent down. Players on the IR don’t count against the 23 man roster limit, though he can travel with the club. This’d give him a taste of the NHL travel schedule, as well as would give him an opportunity to observe skates and the like when the team is on the road, if he so chooses.
He can’t play for seven days – which is fine since he’ll probably be out for another month and a half. But, this raises a question – if he starts the year on IR, and then is activated off of it when his foot heals, will this bump one of the rookies who fought through camp to get that roster spot down to the AHL? And – bigger question, though it doesn’t matter – is that fair?
Rookies and invites remaining at forward are Enver Lisin, Alex Burmistrov, Andrew Kozek, Fredrik Pettersson, and Anthony Stewart. I’m hesitant to throw Patrick Rissmiller in as a rookie since he does have NHL experience under his belt, but he’s fighting for a spot nonetheless. Would the Thrashers be better served by letting one of these guys give it a go until Cormier was healthy? A problem with that is Burmistrov’s probably the front-runner for a position (other than Pettersson), but as far as age goes he’s not eligible to play in the AHL. It’s either 9 games and up or get sent to juniors. The other players are good, but it’s doubtful that they’re of Cormier’s impact level.
A holding pattern until Cormier recovers might be the best route for the Thrashers, and with Cormier nearby, that’s a distinct option for the Thrashers to choose.