NHL

Valabik placed on waivers;Move clears a roster spot for the return of forward Slater.

FOX Sports Chris Vivlamore; Staff, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
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ANAHEIM --- Boris Valabik now waits for a phone call.

The Thrashers defenseman, a former No. 10 overall draft pick just six years ago, was waived by the team on Friday. He hopes to be claimed by another team by noon today. However, should he go unclaimed, he will be assigned to AHL Chicago and work toward a return to Atlanta.

"I have been preparing for the last month or so," Valabik told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Friday. "Professionally, I know it's part of the game. It's also tough knowing that people I respect, the coaches, [general manager] Rick Dudley, didn't think I could play here.

"Whatever happens, happens. If some team picks me up, I will look forward to a second chance. I feel like I owe a lot to Atlanta for drafting me. I had hoped to win a Stanley Cup here. There were 24 guys on the roster and they could only have 23."

The Thrashers made the move in order to activate forward Jim Slater from the injured (non-roster) list in time for Friday night's game against Anaheim.

The 24-year-old Valabik has been plagued by injury throughout his career, including last season when he missed time with a broken ankle and a torn ACL in his left knee. Valabik's draft position and size (6-foot-7, 245 pounds) could be attractive to another team.

"I would like to get picked up because that means somebody wants you," Valabik said. "I hope a lot of people realize that I'm still young and I can play. ... If no team claims me I will go to Chicago and work on my game. I have some work to do, but mostly I need to play. For me, it's more about getting the chance to play and building my confidence. The mental part of the game is so huge for me. I know when I'm on top of my game, I can be very successful."

Valabik and Freddy Meyer have been the seventh and eighth defensemen on the roster and were healthy scratches for the first three games of the season. Dudley said Thursday that it was his intention to only carry seven blue-liners.

"I think Freddy had a very good training camp," Thrashers coach Craig Ramsay said. "Freddy deserved the chance to play. Boris only got one [exhibition] game and we would like to see him play. If he gets through [waivers], he'll play with the opportunity to get himself back into playing shape under the gun. You need to actually play, not just practice. If he got picked up, that would be great for Boris and we would all be pleased to see him get his chance. He didn't cause any trouble. There hasn't been a problem."

Meyer has played parts of six NHL seasons, totaling 266 games, including the past three with the New York Islanders.

"I've been in this role before when I was with the Islanders a little bit," Meyer said. "I know how the whole aspect of being the seventh guys works. You are still part of the team and you have to show up with a good attitude and work hard and put in the extra time so when you do get an opportunity to get in there, you are ready to go and flying on all cylinders."

Meyer was expected to make his Thrashers debut Friday night, when defenseman Zach Bogosian was held out with a shoulder injury suffered Tuesday against Los Angeles. Bogosian practiced with the team Friday morning.

Friday night's Thrashers-Ducks game did not end in time for today's paper. Go to ajc.com for coverage.

Next for Thrashers

Who: at Sharks

When: 10:30 p.m. today

TV; radio: None; 680

The Thrashers wrap up a five-day, three-game West Coast trip in San Jose after playing Friday night in Anaheim.

Defenseman Zach Bogosian is day-to-day due to a shoulder injury suffered Tuesday in Los Angeles.

Evander Kane and Chris Thorburn led the Thrashers in scoring with two goals apiece going into Friday's game.

The Sharks are off to a 1-0-1 start after opening the season with two games against the Blue Jackets in Stockholm.

Joe Thornton leads the Sharks with two goals, both coming on the power play.

Tagged: Sharks, Jets, Freddy Meyer, Boris Valabik, Zach Bogosian

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