Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 07/06/09 at 04:07 PM ET
from Mark Bradley of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution,
It’s an odd task. Don Waddell is making moves with the goal of improving his hockey club, which ordinarily would be a general manager’s highest priority. But this GM has something more in mind:
He’s trying to impress Ilya Kovalchuk.
The best player in Thrashers history is scheduled to become a free agent next summer. He has given indications he’d like to stay here, but his desire is conditional: The Thrashers must first get better. “I know for sure we need some more players,” Kovalchuk told reporters after the final game of last season, and that’s where Waddell comes in.
Known as the Teflon Don in some circles for his ability to avoid blame — and to stick like Krazy Glue to his GM’s chair — Waddell has had an impressive fortnight. The Thrashers appeared to do well in the NHL draft, picking a power forward in Round 1 who might soon be with the big club. (Waddell to Evander Kane on draft night: “You’re going to look good next to Ilya Kovalchuk.”)
And then, scarcely having returned from Montreal, Waddell authored two more big moves: A trade with Toronto that yielded defenseman Pavel Kubina, and the free-agent signing of right wing Nik Antropov, who has two things going for him: He’s a good player who’s an F.O.I. (friend of Ilya’s).
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