NHL Trade Deadline: Thrashers Deal For Radek Dvorak, Sign Mark Stuart, Claim Rob Schremp, And Add Draft Picks

Rick Dudley had a busy day today fixing the team's penalty kill issues. He didn't get a hold of someone to fix the scoring woes, though - will his tweaks be enough?

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NHL Trade Deadline: Atlanta Thrashers Get It Half Right

Previously, I mentioned that I felt that the Thrashers would be best served by fixing their penalty kill, perhaps by grabbing a player or two from the Florida Panthers, who have the league's second best PK unit. I had suggested one of defenseman Mike Weaver, or as a good replacement for Jim Slater I suggested the Thrashers re-acquire center Marty Reasoner. 

Rick Dudley apparently only read half of my take, because he did go to the Florida Panthers to tweak the PK unit, but not with whom I suggested. He traded the (by his words) "streaky" Niclas Bergfors - "who [they] needed to be streaky at the right time" - and AHL depth guy Patrick Rissmiller to the Panthers for Radek Dvorak, who was their second highest forward in terms of ice time on the PK. Dudley believes him to be one of the best penalty killers in the league. He's obviously darn good, because before the trade deadline the Panthers' penalty kill was humming along at an 86% success rate, second to only the Pittsburgh Penguins in effectiveness. Bergfors wasn't utilized on the PK, and his ice time was slipping as his line stature dropped. He should be able to add more to the third line than traded forward Fredrik Modin did, as Modin did not play on the PK.

Rob Schremp, in theory, replaces Bergfors' talent with a player that the Thrashers hope to be as offensively gifted. The biggest upside to Schremp is that he can play all three positions as needed, though chances are good that with the Thrashers calling up Ben Maxwell for tomorrow's game and sending Tim Stapleton and Spencer Machacek down, Schremp will be plugged in on the third line center position. He has the ability to score; the defensive ability remains to be seen and his face-off draws tend to be average. I'm sure that Dudley is hoping to work some magic via Craig Ramsay here.

Between Dvorak, Mark Stuart, and Blake Wheeler, the Thrashers have solidified a very shaky penalty kill that has been steadily worse for the past few months - Sunday afternoon they were a perfect four for four. Schremp is a gamble, but defensively Dudley might have fixed the season - if the team can score enough goals to win a few games down the stretch.


Thrashers Trade Niclas Bergfors And Patrick Rissmiller To Panthers For Radek Dvorak And A Fifth Round Pick

In a move that might upset fans who are clamoring for more scoring, the Thrashers have traded former 1st round pick Niclas Bergfors, acquired in the Ilya Kovalchuk deal of last year, to Florida for their top forward Radek Dvorak. Bergfors has been in and out of the doghouse multiple times this season for lack of defensive responsibility. He is a -11 on the year, and had been playing wing on the third line as of late. Bergfors has 11 goals and 18 assists for just 29 points on the year.

Dvorak has seven goals and 14 assists on the year for 21 points, but he is also a +2. He’s a bigger body than Bergfors (6’2" vs. 5’11") and would be useful in situations such as the lagging penalty kill. Getting him slows the Thrashers down a bit as well as beefs them up in shorthanded situations.

He is not the player (or players) I would have preferred to get from the Panthers. I have long opined for a decent face off guy on the PK to temporarily replace Jim Slater, as well as a defensively responsible defenseman for the PK – such as Marty Reasoner and Mike Weaver. This move will help the Thrashers where they hurt, but expect to see another move to acquire someone to replace Bergfors’ scoring potential.

[EDIT, 11:09 A.M.] In a quote from the Blueland Blog's Trade Day Tracker, Ben Wright reminds us of this quote from Rick Dudley:

- The Thrashers are four points out of a playoff spot with 19 games left in the season.
- Rick Dudley says he’s committed to building a championship team over the long term and he doesn’t want to sacrifice youth for “a 35-year-old player” as he put it.
- Dudley has said he is looking for top-6 scoring help.
- At times there have been questions about whether the Thrashers have enough veteran leadership. If a veteran forward can be added for a pick and not a top prospect a deal could be made.

Dvorak is a 33-year-old unrestricted free agent. Either Dvorak is going to re-sign here long term and has expressed interest in doing so, or Dudley has just traded with friend Dale Tallon and one of his old clubs a young upcoming scoring forward for someone who, while defensively responsible, is not an elite scorer.


Brent Sopel, Nigel Dawes Traded To Canadiens For Ben Maxwell, Draft Pick

With the NHL trade deadline looming on Monday, and with the Thrashers falling steadily out of playoff contention in yet another disappointing February, general manager Rick Dudley figured he might as well get what he could for Brent Sopel and Nigel Dawes.

Dawes was signed this summer coming off of a fairly successful season with the Calgary Flames. Dawes had 14 goals and 18 assists in 66 games with Calgary last season, but thus far in just nine games played for the Thrashers, he has managed an assist and is a -6. Where Dawes has been contributing is the AHL, getting 44 points (27 goals, 17 assists) in 47 games for the Chicago Wolves.

Brent Sopel came over in the deal with Chicago this past summer that brought teammates Dustin Byfuglien and Ben Eager to Atlanta along with Sopel. Byfuglien is the last one remaining from that deal, as Eager was traded to the San Jose Sharks shortly after his four-game suspension for sucker-punching Colby Armstrong was over. Thankfully Buff signed a five year extension, because as it stands the Thrashers gave up Marty Reasoner, Jeremy Morin, and some draft picks for Buff and Akim Aliu, who can’t seem to stay in the AHL.

Sopel, in 59 games played this season, had two goals and seven assists for the Thrashers. Where he was an asset is in shot-blocking, which is a statistic he led the team in. The past few games, however, he’s looked gassed and hasn’t been helped any by Johnny Oduya’s exasperating play. Sopel was a +7 for the team, though, despite playing with Oduya… or because he was paired with Ron Hainsey.

The trade with Boston for Mark Stuart made one of our defensemen expendable, and considering that Sopel is a UFA at the end of this season, and the Thrashers ran the risk of losing him for nothing, getting an AHL player like Ben Maxwell back in return isn’t bad – and a fourth rounder for Nigel Dawes is okay as well.

Sopel didn’t seem too crushed, tweeting shortly after the trade was announced:

Off to Montreal – let the games begin!!less than a minute ago via web


And then this a few hours later:

Looking forward to getting to Montreal to start the running for another Stanley Cup.less than a minute ago via Twitter for iPhone


Best of luck to Sopes, but I don’t see that challenge getting as far as it did last season. But then again, with the playoffs, who knows? Fans’ll get a chance to say hi to Sopel on Tuesday when the Habs come to town to play the Thrashers.

Ben Maxwell will serve as AHL depth (or a NHL call-up, if the need arises). The 6-1, 195 lb. center is second on the Hamilton Bulldogs with 40 points in 47 games (11 goals, 29 assists).


Rich Peverley For Blake Wheeler Trade: Reaction And Opinion From Around The Web

From Thrashers’ defenseman Brent Sopel:

It’s a tuff time of the year for us. It’s a game of wait and see what happens. We lost a great guy and teammate. Wish Rich the best of luck.less than a minute ago via Twitter for iPhone

From forward Evander Kane:

Sucks to see a good teammate go but its part of the businessless than a minute ago via Twitter for iPhone

Reaction from Greg Wyshynski of Puck Daddy:

CSNNE Joe Haggerty’s take: “Boris Valabik has idolized Zdeno Chara for a long time. Interesting addition to Boston’s mix for depth purposes. I like Peverley a lot.”

As do I, and the best part about this swap for the Bruins is that they get another year of Peverley at a $1.4 million base salary next season while Wheeler does RFA this summer and will get a raise on $2.2 million. And he’s better offensively than Wheeler.

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