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.