Don Waddell proves again why he is the worst GM in the NHL and the ownerships group, Atlanta Spirit LCC, is thinking about winning in the future they need to axe Waddell.
For the second time in three years Waddell had to deal a superstar at the deadline or risk letting him walk away for nothing, and once again he didn’t get enough in return.
On February 26th, 2008 Waddell dealt Marian Hossa and Pascal Dupuis to the Penguins for Erik Christensen, Colby Armstrong, Angelo Esposito and the Pens first pick in 2008 (Daultan Leveille). Christensen is a journeyman, Esposito has played 13 AHL games with no goals, Leveille is in his 2nd year at Michigan State, while Armstrong is the only proven NHLer and he might be traded before the deadline. The Thrashers don’t have much to show for moving Hossa.
Fast forward to tonight and Waddell made basically the same move. He dealt Ilya Kovalchuk, Anssi Salmela and a 2nd rounder in 2010 for Niklas Bergfors, Johnny Oduya, Patrice Cormier and the Devils 1st and 2nd round picks this summer. Bergfors, the 23rd pick in 2005, spent four years in the AHL before cracking the Devils this year. He was red hot to start the year, but doesn’t have a goal in his last 13 games. Oduya is a 28-year-old number three D-man at best, while Cormier is suspended for the remainder of the season in the QMJHL.
What’s even worse about this deal is that Hossa was dealt on the actual deadline day, but Kovalchuk was dealt 27 days before Waddell had to pull the trigger. The Thrashers are, I mean were, in the hunt for the playoffs, but this deal means they will miss the postseason for the 9th time in the ten seasons under Waddell.
Waddell shouldn’t have put himself in this position; he must have been desperate by supposedly offering Kovalchuk two options: A 12-year, $101 million contract, and a seven-year, $70 million contract. Clearly Waddell’s desperation was obvious by offering Kovalchuk that much money, because he isn’t worth it. Why did he let it get to this again???
Let’s look at Waddell’s horrendous tenure in Atlanta…
Since 1999, Waddell has had nine first round picks that were 12th or better; tied with Columbus for the most during the past 12 years. Yet, the Thrashers have made the playoffs only once, and they’ve never won a playoff game. Here’s the rest of the league.
Anaheim: Five top-twelve picks, Alexei Smirnov (12), Stanislav Chistov (5), Joffrey Lupul (7), Ladislav Smid (9) and Bobby Ryan (2), five playoff appearance, one Stanley Cup and five different GMs in that span.
Boston: Three top-twelve picks, Lars Jonsson (7), Phil Kessel (5) and Zach Hamill (8), five playoff appearances, but only one series win and three GMs.
Buffalo: Three top-twelve picks, Keith Ballard (11), Thomas Vanek (5) and Tyler Myers (12), four playoff appearances and one GM. The Sabres made the playoffs four times and went to conference finals twice.
Calgary: Three top-twelve picks, Brent Krahn (9), Eric Nystrom (10) and Dion Phaneuf (9), five playoff appearances and three GMs.
Carolina: Three top-twelve picks, Eric Staal (2), Andrew Ladd (4) and Jack Johnson (3), four playoff appearances, one Cup and one GM.
Chicago: Seven top-twelve picks, Mikhail Yakubov (10), Tuomo Ruutu (9), Cam Barker (3), Jack Skille (7), Jonathon Toews (3), Patrick Kane (1) and Kyle Beach (11), two playoff appearances and five GMs.
Colorado: One top-twelve picks, Matt Duchene (3), seven playoff appearances, one Cup and three GMs.
Columbus: They entered the league in 2000 and had nine top-twelve picks, Rostislav Klesla (4), Pascal Leclaire (8), Rick Nash (1), Nikolai Zherdev (4), Alexandre Picard (8), Gilbert Brule (6), Derick Brassard (6), Jakob Voracek (7) and Nikita Filotov (6), one playoff appearance and two GMs.
Dallas: One top-twelve pick, Scott Glennie (8), seven playoff appearances and four GMs. Les Jackson and Brett Hull were co-Gms, but I counted them as one.
Detroit: No top picks, nine playoff appearances, two Cups and one GM.
Edmonton: Two top-twelve picks, Sam Gagner (6) and Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson (10), four playoff appearances, and three GMs.
Florida: Eight top-twelve picks, Denis Shvidki (12), Stephan Weiss (4), Jay Bouwmeester (3), Petr Taticek (9), Nathan Horton (3), Rostislav Olesz (7), Michael Frolik (10) and Keaton Ellerby (10), one playoff appearance and seven GMs.
LA: Six top-twelve picks, Lauri Tukonen (11), Anze Kopitar (11), Jonathon Bernier (11), Thomas Hickey (4), Drew Doughty (2) and Brayden Schenn (6), three playoff appearances and two GMs.
Minnesota: They entered the league in 2000 and have had six top-twelve picks, Marian Gaborik (3), Mikko Koivu (6), Pierre-Marc Bouchard (8), A.J Thelan (12), Benoit Pouliot (4) and James Sheppard (9), three playoff appearances and two GMs.
Montreal: Four top-twelve picks, Mike Komisarek (7), Andrei Kostitsyn (10), Carey Price (5) and Ryan McDonagh (12), five playoff appearances and three GMs.
Nashville: Seven top-twelve picks, Brian Finley (6), Scott Hartnell (6), Dan Hamhuis (12), Scottie Upshall (6), Ryan Suter (7), Colin Wilson (7) and Ryan Ellis (11), four playoff appearances and one GM.
NJ: No top picks, nine playoff appearances, two Cups and one GM.
NYI: Eight top-twelve picks, Tim Connolly (5), Taylor Pyatt (8), Branislav Mezei (10), Rick Dipietro (1), Raffi Torres (5), Kyle Okposo (7), Joshua Bailey (9) and John Tavares (1), four playoff appearances and two GMs. Neil Smith was the GM for 40 days in the summer of 2006, but I didn’t count him.
NYR: Six top-twelve picks, Pavel Brendl (4), Jamie Lundmark (9), Dan Blackburn (10), Hugh Jessiman (12), Al Montoya (6) and Marc Staal (12), four playoff appearances and two GMs.
Ottawa: Three top-twelve picks, Jason Spezza (2), Brian Lee (9) and Jared Cowan (9), eight playoff appearances and three GMs.
Philly: Three top-twelve picks, Joni Pitkanen (4), Jeff Carter (11) and James vanRiemsdyk (2), eight playoff appearances and two GMs.
Phoenix: Six top-twelve picks, Fredrik Sjostrom (11), Blake Wheeler (5), Peter Mueller (8), Kyle Turris (3), Mikkel Boedker (8) and Oliver Ekman-Larsson (6), two playoff appearances and four GMs.
Pittsburgh: Five top-twelve picks, Ryan Whitney (5), Marc-Andre Fleury (1), Evgeni Malkin (2), Sidney Crosby (1) and Jordan Staal (2), five playoff appearances, one Cup and two GMs.
St.Louis: Two top-twelve picks, Erik Johnson (1), Alex Pietrangelo (4), six playoff appearances and one GM.
San Jose: Three top-twelve picks, Milan Michalek (6), Devin Setoguchi (8) and Logan Couture (9), eight playoff appearances and two GMs.
Tampa: Four top-twelve picks, Nikita Alexeev (8), Alexander Svitov (3), Steven Stamkos (1) and Victor Hedman (2), four playoff appearances, one Cup and three GMs.
Toronto: Two top-twelve picks, Luke Schenn (5) and Nazem Kadri (7), five playoff appearances and three GMs. (I didn’t count Cliff Fletcher).
Van: Four top-twelve picks, Daniel Sedin (2), Henrik Sedin (3), Luc Bourdon (10) and Cody Hodgson, six playoff appearances and three GMs.
Wash: Five top-twelve picks, Kris Beech (7), Steve Eminger (12), Alex Ovechkin (1), Nicklas Backstrom (4) and Karl Alzner (5), five playoff appearances and one GM.
The only other franchises to have one GM during Waddell’s tenure are Detroit, New Jersey, Washington, St. Louis, Nashville, Buffalo and Carolina. Three of them have won Cups, the Caps are a top contender, the Blues made the playoffs six times, the Sabres made the Conference finals twice, and the Predators made the playoffs four times. Waddell doesn’t come close to the success of those teams.
Waddell has had some great top-end talent in Atlanta but he has been unable to surround them with any depth, and now that Kovalchuk is gone I don’t see how Waddell can make Atlanta competitive in the future. The fact is, he shouldn’t be given an opportunity to stick around because all he has proven is he’s been the most incompetent GM this past decade. The Thrashers need to fire him if they want to make the playoffs again.