The Atlanta Thrashers cut their roster by four players today: two defensemen and two forwards. The two defensemen cut, Andrey Zubarev and Arturs Kulda, both had an extremely strong showing during the pre-season and were considered viable competition for the seventh defenseman position. The remaining two defenseman, Boris Valabik and Freddy Meyer, will have to fight it out between each other. Valabik has been a scratch for much of the pre-season. His play to begin was lackluster - slow, tentative, and a poor skating stride. That could be attributed to him working back from an ACL injury and not wanting to press it. Meyer is a veteran of the New York Islanders' blue-line and has two goals on the pre-season. The ability to have six defenseman iced nightly with a scoring touch might be what persuaded Craig Ramsay to keep him with the team a bit longer.
The forwards cut are a mixed bag. Patrick Rissmiller, acquired in a trade with the New York Rangers in which the Thrashers sent them Todd White, will have to clear waivers to go to Chicago. He was not terrible during the pre-season, but also failed to impress in his bid to make it back into the NHL. Fredrik Pettersson, however, was considered by many a lock to make the team. The small, scrappy forward clicked with Bryan Little, but was not used regularly with him during the pre-season.
As Ben Wright of the Blueland Blog points out, the twenty five players on the roster right now can all start the season together if Jim Slater and Andrew Kozek begin the season on injured reserve. That means that new arrivals Nigel Dawes and Freddy Modin will be on the roster opening night, as will rookies Anthony Stewart and first round pick Alex Burmistrov. Stewart was solid during the pre-season, and since he would have to clear waivers to be sent down and Pettersson would not, it's safer to keep him up with the team in case another squad has their eyes on him. Burmistrov will get at least his nine games before this season counts against his contract, which will be helpful in assessing if he should remain or, if Cormier is activated, if he should return to the Barrie Colts to finish the year out in Juniors.
Now that the roster seems to be close to being set, as the week goes on and it gets closer to opening night, I'll be previewing each position on the team.