SUN Hockey Pool

Kanata's White having career year

BRUCE GARRIOCH, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:19 AM ET

ATLANTA -- Todd White is doing all right.

The former Senators centre, one of the few bright spots for the Thrashers, is having a career year. That bodes well for the franchise if the club can get back to the NHL playoffs next year.

The Kanata native, signed as a free agent by the Thrashers in 2007, had two assists last night against the Senators at Philips Arena, giving him a career-high 70 points (21G-49A) this season.

"I've had a great opportunity since the start of the year. I've gotten the chance to get confidence by playing with great players in different situations," the 33-year-old White said yesterday. "Unfortunately, we're not in the playoff hunt, but it's been a rewarding season, though.

"Each night you're trying to do what you can to help the team win and we didn't have a good start to the season. The first 50 games we didn't play as well as we would have liked. The last 20-to-25 games we've really turned it on. It's just too little, too late."

AROUND THE BOARDS: Various Senators can expect invitations to the world championships once the club is officially eliminated from the playoffs. Russian coach Vyacheslav Bykov, who will lead the club next month in Switzterland, was in the building to get a look at Senators D Anton Volchenkov. He was also expected to speak with Atlanta captain Ilya Kovaclhuk and LW Vyacheslav Kozlov. The trio is expected to be invited to the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver ... Under the "why" category: Apparently Atlanta C Jim Slater isn't going to cut his hair until next year's training camp. Well, there is no need for a playoff haircut here ... Former Atlanta RW Dany Heatley heard a few boos every time he touched the puck. Dealt to the Senators in 2005, Heatley asked for a trade and gets similar treatment every time he comes here.

OFF THE GLASS: Thrashers D Zach Bogosian, a Massena, N.Y., native, has been pretty impressive lately. The No. 3 overall selection in the 2008 NHL entry draft played 28:01 with 31 shifts in a 5-4 victory, a heavy workload for anyone, let alone an 18-year-old. "He's a very confident young man. He has no fear of carrying that puck. He picks up that puck to go and he means business. You can see it right away," Atlanta coach John Anderson said. "When you have the confidence to put him out there that much, that says a lot for that young man." ... You really have to wonder how much longer Kovalchuk, 25, is going to be in Atlanta. The Thrashers are going to try to sign him to an extension in the off-season because he's scheduled to become a UFA at the end of 2009-10. Making $7.5 million US, it's going to take some convincing for GM Don Waddell to keep him here. Kovalchuk has only been to the playoffs once in his seven-year NHL career -- a four-game sweep, no less. There was talk earlier this season the Habs were interested in acquiring Kovalchuk. They will be in the summer ... The fans in Binghamton aren't exactly pleased they won't be getting G Brian Elliott back for the playoffs. Here's an educated guess at why he's not going back: It doesn't make much sense. Elliott is expected to either push for the No. 2 job in Ottawa next year or it will be his if the club can deal G Alex Auld and the $1 million left on his contract at the NHL entry draft.

THE MORNING SKATE: The last guy off the ice -- and looking good I might add -- for the Thrashers was formers Senators captain Randy Cunneyworth. The Atlanta assistant coach is getting ready to return to his Rochester home this spring, but he has to wait until former Gatineau Olympiques coach Benoit Groulx, who is behind the Amerks' bench, has vacated the place. Rochester isn't going to make the playoffs, which apparently has Groulx a little frustrated. Cunneyworth was talking to one of his friends in Rochester and Groulx held a 6 a.m. practice recently with no pucks. ... The bidding war for Denver University C Tyler Bozak is officially started. The UFA's No. 1-ranked Pioneers were eliminated from the NCAA tournament Friday in Minnesota by Miami of Ohio. It's believed as many as 24 teams have spoken with Bozak's agent, Wade Arnott. The Senators are among the teams that are interested in signing Bozak, but they're going to have to offer a one-way contract if they want to make a deal. "The interest level is very significant -- maybe unprecedented for a college free agent," Arnott said. Senators assistant GM Tim Murray was scouting Bozak.

PARTING THOUGHT: Former Thrashers coach Bob Hartley, a Hawkesbury native who won the Stanley Cup with Colorado in 2001, makes his home during the season in an Atlanta suburb. He was passed up in favour of Craig Hartsburg by Ottawa last spring, but he won't be out of work much longer. Montreal GM Bob Gainey didn't bring in Hartley to finish the season, but he should be behind the bench next year ... Senators C Mike Fisher's girlfriend, country singer Carrie Underwood, was in the crowd.

BRUCE.GARRIOCH@SUNMEDIA.CA


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