Atlanta Thrashers are the masters of frustration

thrashers.jpgEvery now and then, Pro Hockey Talk will ask for insight from some of the best team bloggers out there. For this feature, we asked a simple question: “Who is your team’s most frustrating player?” Just for fun, Brandon and I also provided our “guesses” as to who that player might be.

First, here are our guesses for Atlanta.

Brandon: Vyacheslav Kozlov – To me this was a no-brainer. I’m not exactly certain what Thrashers fans feel, but someone who is the 2nd-highest paid forward on the team should never have the lowest plus/minus, while putting up wholly pedestrian numbers.

James: Vyacheslav Kozlov – The player who was once among the league’s most underrated is now one of its most frustrating. I doubt you’ll see him in an NHL uniform next season.

Laura Astorian is one of our best blogging buddies and happens to be a go-to source for both St. Louis Blues and Atlanta Thrashers blogging goodness. She’s also helping out with Cycle like the Sedins among many other endeavors. You might as well follow her on Twitter just to be safe.

Asking for only one great source of frustration for a Thrashers fan is like asking someone at Godiva what their favorite truffle is. The common areas of irritation are Kozlov, White, Armstrong, and Pavelec. It’s extremely easy to target any of those players as someone who makes you want to pull your hair out. Kozlov and White, after career years for each of them last season, dropped off the radar. Somehow, though, despite similar production and a similarly horrible +/-, only Kozlov found himself benched. White has been placed out there time and time again, and despite being fairly serviceable on the penalty kill, at even strength all that he does is highlight the need to get Kane back.

I’m going to go out on a limb and say he’s being played over Kozlov because he still has a year left on a contract we overpaid for, and Kozzie’s a UFA … but what do I know?

Army, well, I have seen a gangster in cement shoes skate faster than he does. He’s another victim of heightened expectations for this season.

The biggest frustration, but the easiest to cope with, is that of Ondrej Pavelec. He’s only 22, so you can argue that he has more than enough time to find his stride. He has had flashes of absolute brilliance, and then lays a massive egg the next game. His confidence got rattled after some rough OT/shootouts. There was a stretch of where it seemed like he allowed an average of 3-4 goals every time he started. He’s working stuff out, but as close as the Thrashers are to a playoff spot, it’s rough to think of the games that we could have won if Johan Hedberg had been in goal.

On the flip side, we would have signed Legace and his knee would have imploded after 3 starts, and then we’d be right back where we are now. I’m convinced that they have a framed plaque of Murphy’s Law up on the wall in the locker room somewhere.

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    For Pete DeBoer, San Jose was the perfect landing spot

    San Jose Sharks Name Peter Deboer Head Coach
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    In Pete DeBoer’s first season as head coach of the New Jersey Devils, he went to the Stanley Cup Final with a roster that was headlined by two pretty talented players in Ilya Kovalchuk and Zach Parise.

    For DeBoer and the Devils, it never got better than that. By the time he was fired, the team had missed the playoffs two years in a row, Kovalchuk and Parise were elsewhere and the roster was looking pretty, darn barren.

    Now, in his first season with San Jose, DeBoer is once again off to the final, this time with a Sharks team that’s headlined by Joe Thornton, Joe Pavelski, Logan Couture, Patrick Marleau, Brent Burns, and Marc-Edouard Vlasic.

    Why, you could almost draw the conclusion that a head coach has a much better chance to win with a roster full of talented players.

    Certainly, the teams DeBoer had in Florida wouldn’t hurt that theory.

    A motivated roster is nice to have as well, and DeBoer definitely had that when he took over in San Jose.

    “I inherited a similar team in New Jersey when I went in there,” DeBoer said Wednesday. “First time they missed the playoffs for a long time the year before I got there.

    “I think when you go into that situation, when you have really good people like there was in New Jersey when I went in there, like I was with this group, they’re pissed off, they’re embarrassed by the year they just had, and they’re willing to do and buy into whatever you’re selling to get it fixed again.”

    DeBoer was also the benefactor of some fine work by GM Doug Wilson, who signed veterans Joel Ward and Paul Martin in free agency and got goalie Martin Jones in a trade. Wilson also signed Joonas Donskoi out of Europe, a year after he did the same with Melker Karlsson. Throw in a few draft picks that have come along — youngsters like Tomas Hertl, Chris Tierney, and Matt Nieto — and it’s hard to find a real weakness on the roster.

    “The additions that Doug made, it just came together,” said DeBoer.

    “They were coming off a down season, but they were coming off a decade of great hockey. They’d been well-coached. Todd McLellan and the previous staff are as good as there are in the business. These guys had a great foundation. Right place, right time.”

    Related: DeBoer predicts ‘big bounce-back’ in San Jose

    Panthers expect Campbell to test free agency

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    The Florida Panthers are operating on the premise that veteran d-man Brian Campbell will go unrestricted on July 1.

    From the Florida Sun-Sentinel:

    [GM Tom] Rowe said that the Panthers told Campbell and his agent they want to re-sign him but it appears Campbell, who turned 37 on Monday, will test the market first.

    Campbell will be one to watch on the open market. A terrific puck-mover, he finished with six goals and 31 points for Florida last season while averaging a healthy 22:17 TOI per game.

    He rarely gets hurt — Campbell hasn’t missed a game in five years — and has excellent skating ability. All of these attributes mask the fact that 1) he’s not overly physical, 2) he’s not what you’d call a “defensive defenseman,” and 3) he’s had an albatross of a contract.

    Signed to a whopping eight-year, $57.1 million deal back in 2008, Campbell has been pulling down $7.14M annually, which has sort of skewed perceptions of him. His $7M+ cap hit puts him alongside the likes of P.K. Subban, Shea Weber, Ryan Suter, Kris Letang and Drew Doughty.

    But at a lesser price, Campbell might be a really good acquisition.

    And what’s more, the market for transitional defensemen is already heating up.

    Earlier this week, GM Don Sweeney said the Bruins would be “aggressive” in their pursuit of a puck-moving blueliner.

    Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault conceded his club had a puck-moving problem this year, and could lose both Dan Boyle and Keith Yandle off the blueline.

    Finally, there are those Campbell would be up against on the open market.

    It’s not an especially deep class for defensmen: Yandle, Alex Goligoski, Dan Hamhuis and Chris Russell headline the list, which makes Campbell all the more valuable.

    Max Talbot signs in KHL

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    Earlier this week, we passed along word that veteran NHLer Max Talbot was contemplating a move to Europe.

    On Friday, that move was made official.

    KHL club Lokomotiv Yaroslavl announced that Talbot has agreed to a one-year contract. The deal comes after the 32-year-old split last season between Boston and its AHL affiliate in Providence, scoring seven points in 38 games at the NHL level.

    Over the course of his 10-year NHL career, Talbot appeared in over 700 games and established himself as a gritty, hardworking forward with decent touch around the net.

    He scored double-digit goals four times — including a career-high 19 in ’11-12 — and will always be remembered in Pittsburgh for scoring both goals in a 2-1 Game 7 win over Detroit at the 2009 Stanley Cup Final.

     

     

    Jets assistant Vincent named AHL Manitoba head coach

    DENVER, CO - APRIL 09:  (L-R) Assistant coach Pascal Vincent, head coach Paul Maurice and assistant coach Charlie Huddy and the Winnipeg Jets look from the bench against the Colorado Avalanche at Pepsi Center on April 9, 2015 in Denver, Colorado. The Avalanche defeated the Jets 1-0 in an overtime shootout.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
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    Winnipeg didn’t have to look far to find Keith McCambridge’s replacement for its AHL affiliate in Manitoba.

    Pascal Vincent, who’s served as an assistant coach with the Jets for the last five years, will become the eighth head coach in Moose history, the club announced on Friday.

    Vincent, 44, was one of the original hires when the franchise moved to Winnipeg from Atlanta in 2011. He’s worked under two different head coaches — Claude Noel and Paul Maurice — and is held in high regard by the organization.

    That said, he did face some critiques this year. Jets fans were displeased with the Vincent-led power play, which posted a league-worst 14.8 percent success rate, tying Ottawa for the fewest power play goals in the NHL (38).

    With today’s reshuffling, there appears to be a spot now open on Maurice’s staff. The Winnipeg Sun reports that Jeff Daniels — former head coach of the AHL’s Charlotte Checkers — could be one to keep an eye on.

    Daniels played for Maurice in Carolina, and the pair went to the Stanley Cup Final together in 2002.