The 29-year-old Antropov played with Kovalchuk in Russia during the NHL lockout. General manager Don Waddell said Kovalchuk endorsed the signing with a text message saying, "Great job."
Kovalchuk's approval is important. The Thrashers' captain and biggest star is entering his free-agent season, and has said he wants to see the team's offseason moves before he talks about signing a new deal.
Waddell said the Antropov signing should help the team re-sign Kovalchuk.
"Certainly, it's going to help us through the process," Waddell said. "Ilya wants to be part of a winning organization and this is a big step in the right direction."
On Wednesday, Waddell also acquired defenseman Pavel Kubina in a four-player deal with Toronto.
"I said we didn't need a lot of pieces, we needed key pieces, and that's what we've added," Waddell said.
Antropov set a career high with 59 points and 28 goals with Toronto and the New York Rangers last season. He was traded to the Rangers on March 4.
He had 56 points with the Maple Leafs during the 2007-08 season.
The Thrashers also re-signed forward Chris Thorburn, who had 15 points, including seven goals, in a career-high 82 games last season.
"We thought to give them the best chance of having some success we needed to surround them with some size," Waddell said.
Scuderi goes West
Scuderi was part of Pittsburgh's top shutdown defensive pairing along with Hal Gill, who left the Penguins on Wednesday and signed with the Montreal Canadiens. Scuderi led the Penguins with a plus-23 rating and had a career-high 16 points in 81 regular-season games. He also had a team-high 164 blocked shots.
In the playoffs, Scuderi added a goal and four assists in 24 games while logging 20½ minutes of ice time. He assisted on Maxime Talbot's Cup-winning goal in Game 7 of the finals against Detroit.
Bruins keep Recchi
After signing a deal Thursday, the 41-year-old said in a conference call Friday that he likely will call it quits after this season.
Recchi was an unrestricted free agent. He had 61 points (23 goals, 38 assists) in 80 games with Boston and the Tampa Bay Lightning last season as well as adding six points (three goals, three assists) in 11 playoff games.
Recchi had said after the season that he might retire if the Bruins didn't re-sign him.
"I really enjoyed it here," he said then. "I expressed that to them."
The Bruins wanted him back after seeing the 20-year veteran's ability, determination and influence on younger players. He played the final game against Carolina after undergoing surgery to remove a kidney stone the previous night.
"Obviously, I was pretty sore," Recchi said four days after the game. "I don't wish it on my worst enemy, but we all play through stuff. It's really no big deal."
Aucoin joins Coyotes
General manager Don Maloney called Aucoin, 35, an "an intelligent, puck-moving defenseman who will help improve our power play and bring leadership to our locker room."
Aucoin had 10 goals and 24 assists in 81 games last season with the Calgary Flames.
Grabovski re-signs with Leafs
The forward had 20 goals and 48 points in 78 games last season, both ranked fourth on the Maple Leafs. He will make $2.75 million in the first year of the deal, $2.85 million in 2010-11, and $3.1 million in 2011-12.
Stars secure Skrastins
Skrastins, 34, played in 80 games for the Florida Panthers last season, collecting four goals and 14 assists for 18 points with 30 penalty minutes. His assist and point totals in 2008-09 both were career highs. He led the Panthers with 171 blocked shots, ranking ninth overall in the league in that category.
LaRose returns to Canes
A day after they re-signed Eric Cole, the Carolina Hurricanes retained another key role player from the team that made it to the Eastern Conference finals.
Chad LaRose agreed to a two-year, $3.4 million deal. LaRose will earn $1.5 million in 2009-10 and $1.9 in 2010-11. He made $875,000 last season.
"Chad has grown into a key player for our franchise," Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford said in a statement. "He had his best year last season and is an important penalty killer and popular player in our locker room and with our fans."
LaRose had a career year in 2008-09. The forward played a career-high 81 games and notched career-highs in goals (19) and points (31).
Information from ESPN.com's Pierre LeBrun and The Associated Press was used in this report.
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