The Swedish website Aftonbladet reported yesterday that the Atlanta Thrashers signed free agent left winger Fredrik Modin to a one-year, $800,000 deal. It seemed to be a possibility that Modin would return to his native Sweden to play, but the Thrashers stepped in with a deal that will keep him in the NHL for at least one more season.
Modin, who played with defenseman Ron Hainsey in Columbus, as well as with Tobias Enstrom and Johnny Oduya in the Olympics, has scored thirty goals twice in his career: once in 2000-2001, and once again in 2005-2006 as a member of the Tampa Bay Lightning. Modin played for both Rick Dudley and Craig Ramsay in Tampa Bay.
Recently, though, Modin has been plagued by injuries. He only played 44 games last season due to a bad knee and a bruised foot. He hasn't played a complete season since 2006-2007 when he was with the Blue Jackets. Having a potential 30 goal scorer on the team is something Dudley needed to do - the Thrashers need to replace the scoring lost when Maxim Afinogenov returned to Russia - but to take a risk with someone who is very much injury prone at the expense of a rookie is surprising.
The irony of that last statement is that Afinogenov was extremely injury prone, and that people used that same argument as to why we shouldn't've signed the winger. The difference there is that there wasn't a player in the minors that could have stepped up to fill in this gap. This season there's Alexander Burmistrov. The signing of Modin could be a hint at the fact that Burmistrov's not ready yet or that he hasn't put on enough weight for Dudley to consider having him join the team this year. If that is the case - if Burmistrov needs an extra year of conditioning - then this signing makes sense.
One thing that this signing does signal is an increased probability that Byfuglien will be finding himself on defense, which causes a whole conundrum. Does Kulda stay in Chicago for one more season even though he is probably more than ready for a third pairing stint here? Or does Valabik get traded to make room for Kulda as the 7th defenseman? Byfuglien'll add more grit and size on the blueline while still being valuable on the power play as a presence in front of the net, but will that presence be missed at even strength? The Thrashers have never been known for crashing the net, and without Byfuglien to do that up front, that trend will continue.