Thrashers Add Familiar Face and a Pair of Goalies
As you’ve probably heard, the Thrashers added four more players to the organization today, announcing the signings of forward Jason Krog, defenseman Joel Kwiatkowski, and goalies Drew MacIntyre and Peter Mannino.
Krog and Kwiatkowski (Kiwi) both saw time with the Thrashers in 2007-08 but both spent the bulk of the season in Chicago leading the Wolves to a Calder Cup Championship. Both of them put up career numbers that season with Krog scoring 112 points in 80 games and Kiwi piling up 21 goals and 50 points in 59 games, adding another 23 in 24 playoff matches. Who was the coach of those Chicago Wolves? John Anderson.
Jason Krog will have his work cut out for him to make the Thrashers roster coming out of training camp given that there are bigger, younger (Krog is 33) players that are going to be clawing for just one or two roster spots. As it stands right now Kwiatkowski is the seventh defenseman under contract with a few more (Arturs Kulda and Grant Lewis) hoping to make the jump this season. As a vet (he’s 32) who has thrived under Anderson before he might have an edge if the Thrashers carry seven defensemen.
As for the goalies, Mannino saw action in three NHL games last season and dressed as a backup for other games without being called into action, including a January 29 game against the Thrashers. Mannino had a .900 save percentage and 2.93 GAA in 34 AHL games in Bridgeport (the Islanders affiliate) last season and parlayed that into a 17-12-2 record. He also spent some time in the ECHL with the Utah Grizzlies, seeing action in nine games.
Then there’s Drew MacIntyre who I’m excited about for reasons that won’t matter to anyone else.
MacIntyre was born in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, which just so happens to be my hometown. Let me digress for a moment- PEI is a Canadian province northeast of Maine in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. It has a population of about 144,000 people and is the setting for the Anne of Green Gables books. The small island has produced some NHL players over the years, including John Anderson’s former linemate Rick Vaive, Gerard Gallant, and Dallas Stars center Brad Richards. The Island, as we call it, is a pretty close knit community. Doug MacLean is from there and he surrounded himself with people from back home when he was the GM of the Blue Jackets. So yes, I’m excited about having a guy from back home come to camp in September. That being said, I’ve never met Drew. I don’t know him, but I definitely know people that do.
Aside from being form my neck of the woods, MacIntyre is a more than qualified goalie. He led the AHL in wins last season with 34 while playing for the low-scoring Milwaukee Admirals. He also put together a 2.30 GAA and .921 save percentage. For comparison’s sake Ondrej Pavelec had a 2.58 GAA and .914 save percentage. In 2007-08 he got some time with the Canucks, playing 61 minutes. Over the years the 26-year-old MacIntyre, who was a fourth round pick of the Red Wings in 2001, has seen some time in the ECHL but has been solid in the AHL, posting an impressive 91-49-8 record with a 2.32 GAA and .919 save percentage.
So what does this mean for the infamous “goalie situation” here in Atlanta? Well, MacIntyre and Mannino make five pro goalies in the system at the moment with the other three being Lehtonen, Hedberg and Pavelec. Given the rash of injuries to Atlanta goalies over the years it’s never been a bad idea to have an extra goalie or two around, but teams rarely sign a free agent goaltender with the intention of assigning them to the ECHL. Maybe that’s the plan here, or maybe the cupboards are being stocked to prepare for the goalie trade that has been rumored for a few months (and please remember that I have no idea what management’s plans are aside form what has been written in stories or said on media conference calls). If either Lehtonen, Pavelec, or Hedberg gets moved MacIntyre is capable of carrying the load in Chicago and coming up to Atlanta as needed. Mannino still has plenty of potential as well, so the Thrashers don’t have to worry about their goaltending in the system. If no goalie trade comes (and there’s no reason to make one just for the sake of making one) then there should be some solid competition for playing time in both Atlanta and Chicago and competiton for roster spots is always a good thing. It should be an interesting situation to watch.