March 1st, 2010 by

The Bruins could look to Atlanta for some offense

With the Olympic roster freeze now lifted, the 30 general managers across the NHL have until 3 p.m. on Wednesday, Mar. 3, to make any transactions amongst each other.

One player who is looking to find a new home with a contending team is Atlanta Thrashers forward Vyacheslav Kozlov. The 37-year-old is playing in his seventh season with the Thrashers, and has just 24 points and a minus-16 through 52 games with the club. Kozlov, in five of his six prior seasons in Atlanta, had netted 20-plus-goals and 50-plus-points — including four seasons of 70 or more points.

From TSN: “I don’t know if I’m going to be on this team or another team,” Kozlov told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “If we can find a team which I like and which is good for me and my family I will go. If not, I’m going to be here.

With coach not playing me, what can you do? That’s why I feel I could go play for somebody that needs my help. If so, I’ll waive my no trade clause.

What does this have to do with the Boston Bruins? Absolutely nothing.

However, if Peter Chiarelli is in fact looking for another inconsistent and over-paid gamble, Kozlov could could be an option.

“Obviously, you look at the statistics, and it’s our scoring, it’s bad” said Chiarelli, “so you want to get some type of top-nine forward that has an offensive bend to his game. There’s not many out there.

But from the Bruins financial standpoint, the impending UFA Kozlov has a cap-hit of $3.66MM for this season. No thanks. Not worth it. [see: Ryder, Michael & Sturm, Marco]

Since the Thrashers’ general manager Don Waddell looks as though he’s going to be a seller rather than a buyer, there could be another option or two for Chiarelli to explore down in Atlanta.

Now I’m still convinced the Bruins need a defenseman first and foremost — and they missed the train on Jordan Leopold — but Maxim Afinogenov is an impending UFA forward out of Atlanta that may help the Bruins’ scoring woes. The 30-year-old right-winger leads the team with 19 goals and second amongst all Thrashers with 46 total points [13 on the PP] through 60 games played. With numbers like that, the Moscow, Russia, native would look like this in Boston:

Goals: 1st [19]
Assists: 2nd [27]
Points: 1st [46]
Shots on goal: 4th [141]
PP goals: T-3rd [5]

Afinogenov, drafted by Buffalo back in the 1997 NHL Entry Draft, played with the Sabres over the course of nine NHL seasons. A few very good — and very bad — seasons and couple of groin injuries, the left-handed winger, akin to Michael Ryder in Montreal, was laughed out of town when he hit the free-agency date.

An invite to the Thrashers training camp on Sept. 17, 2009, Afinogenov signed a one-year contract with Atlanta on Sept. 29, 2009. Now on pace for a career-best 26 goals, No. 61 could be a viable option for a playoff team like the Bruins. The price tag should be reasonable enough for the Bruins if the recent transactions around the NHL are any indication: Jeopold to Pittsburgh for a second-round pick, Dominic Moore to Montreal for a second-round pick, Matt Cullen to Ottawa for a defenseman and a second-round pick.

Boston owns a total of five second-round picks in the next two NHL Entry Drafts; and 11 total picks in the first three rounds over the next two.

So, sending a second-round pick [either from Tampa Bay, Toronto, or Boston] to Waddell and the Thrashers for Afinogenov is a hypothetical trade option, which would make sense for both GM’s. Afinogenov is a veteran with good experience: 10-13-23 in 49 NHL playoff games. And at an $800K cap-hit on the season, the “gamble” on the 30-year-old Afinogenov would be about the same, financially, as the “Miroslav Satan Experiment” — which we all know isn’t working.

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