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Thrashers keep Kozlov, add MacArthur from Buffalo

by John Manasso
DULUTH, Ga. -- The longest-tenured Atlanta Thrasher, left wing Slava Kozlov, made public his request for a trade recently and the 37-year-old Russian was preparing himself to be dealt on Wednesday -- joking with one of the team's equipment managers about having to unpack his skates in case he gets moved.

Kozlov has 145 goals and 269 assists for 414 points in his seven seasons in Atlanta. But he has been a healthy scratch in nine of the Thrashers' last 11 games, which led to the request.

However, in the end, Thrashers general manager Don Waddell said he could not find a deal for Kozlov. Waddell said he never had a deal to present to Kozlov, who has a no-movement clause in his contract.

"There wasn't a buyer for it," Waddell said. "We had small interest early in the day ... We couldn't move him so he's still a Thrasher and will be for the rest of the year."

Waddell also said while a lot of speculation hovered around some of the team's pending unrestricted free agents like forwards Colby Armstrong and Maxim Afinogenov and defenseman Pavel Kubina, he elected to keep those players.

"Colby is an important part of this team," Waddell said. "He plays an important role on this team and there's lots of speculation today about lots of our players and Colby was mentioned quite a bit out there. But our intentions are [that] we like our team and this is a strong statement to our team. That's why we were buyers and not sellers."

Kozlov said before the deadline that in the event that he was not traded, he would be OK with it.

"I like the team, I like the guys, I was here eight years," he said. "Whatever happens between management -- it's just between me and management. Nothing wrong with that. I think every player's got some issues. I try to deal professionally. Whatever happens, you know, I'm going to accept it. If I'm going to get traded, I'll accept it. If not I'll stay here."

Coach John Anderson said it's possible that Kozlov could be back in the lineup as soon as Thursday when Atlanta hosts the New York Islanders.

"I could use him tomorrow night, depending on what happens," Anderson said. "I can't get inside his head. He's been nothing but a professional so far. Again, it's hard for me because I have a ton of respect for him. I like him as a person. I love his family. I'm making tough decisions that hurt me personally but I have to think of the team first."

Waddell did make one deadline deal, acquiring forward Clarke MacArthur from Buffalo for third- and fourth-round picks in the 2010 Entry Draft.

MacArthur, Buffalo's 2003 third-round draft pick, was in his fourth season with the Sabres and is eligible to become a restricted free agent this summer. MacArthur has 13 goals and 13 assists in 60 games this season. He is coming off a career-best season, when he had 17 goals and 14 assists in 71 games.

Forty-eight-year-old defenseman Chris Chelios, who signed with Atlanta on Tuesday, cleared waivers on Wednesday. However, he remains with the Thrashers' AHL affiliate in Chicago.

Anderson was asked if he is philosophically opposed to dressing seven defensemen, as many coaches are.

Count Anderson among those "philosophically opposed."

"Some guys are different," Anderson said. "If you have an offensive guy like a [Thrashers defenseman Marc] Popovic or something like that that wouldn't bother me one bit. But I just prefer to keep it six 'D.' And remember: A long time ago they only played with four. So us going down to five D wouldn't totally crimp you ...

"I'm not opposed to having eight D in the room, but you can't play seven and get your guys out there enough. You're just wasting time and possibly what happens if a forward goes down? Now you're down to three lines plus one. I prefer just to do the normal stuff, and it's easier to deal with if anything else happens."

Waddell said the team could bring Chelios up if "we have an opportunity that makes some sense." The Thrashers already have seven healthy defensemen.
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