According to Kevin Allen of USA Today (and dug up and posted over at BWA by Tim), the Thrashers have had positive talks with both Pavel Kubina and Maxim Afinogenov as far as the two UFAs re-signing. It’s commonly felt among Thrashers fans and hockey analysts alike that those are the two key pieces for the Thrashers to lock-up going into the new season. Afinogenov, while a -17 for the season, was second on the Thrashers in scoring with 61 points (24-37-61), and several of his goals were memorable last second ones that put the Thrashers on top. Kubina, after having an absurdly high +/- for most of the season finished even, but he did also finish with 31 points and solidified his pairing with Enstrom as the best on the team. His numbers suffered with some of the defensive juggling and injury issues that he and the team both had at the end of the year, but the defensive corps this season, with the addition of him, were the best that this team has seen.
The Thrashers apparently have no chance of locking up Colby Armstrong, however. That really doesn’t make me upset. I’ve been critical of Army here in the past because of his sluggishness on ice, his lack of offensive ability this season, and his borderline hits that do more damage to his team than to the guy that he just lept into with his elbow (or, this year, with his forearm/hand). He was invisible for good stretches this season, and his on-ice decisions as well as his off-ice demeanor (referring to the team in the 3rd person as “they” and “them” several times in interviews; publicly questioning his return to the team if Kovalchuk was traded) was very unbecoming of an assistant captain.
He can be a cheeseball and be the fan guy at all of the town halls all that he wants to, but he contributed a minimal amount to the team this season. He’s still in high demand around the league for some reason, and whatever team signs him will find out sooner rather than later the kind of player they signed versus the kind of player that they wanted.
There seems to be some pressure to sign our 2nd round pick from the 2009 draft, Carl Klingberg, to play next season on the 3rd line, possible with Patrice Cormier (if he doesn’t wind up in the pokey, which he probably won’t). Cormier and his ability to crack the team next season has been talked up by both Waddell and Dudley, so perhaps this might signal a line promotion for Kane, as well as some possible PP time. Armstrong was out on the PP too often, as was Todd White, and the power play might be something whatever new coach we get here can fix.