06 May 2008

Interesting assessment of the team

From profantasysports.com:

After mortgaging the farm to make the playoffs for the first time in 2006-07, the Thrashers actually took a step backward in 2007-08 after a slow start led to the early season firing of coach Bob Hartley. GM Don Waddell assumed the reigns behind the bench and did a good job, but a lengthy and unsuccessful contract negotiation with Marian Hossa, a lack of depth on defense, and a lack of secondary scoring were too much to overcome. Ilya Kovalchuk and rookie Tobias Enstrom were two bright spots for the Thrashers and the trade of Marian Hossa brought back some much-needed assets to the organization.

Returning Nucleus

Ilya Kovalchuk remains a top-10 fantasy option on the wing, despite the fact that he does not have a premier centerman to play with. Tobias Enstrom slowed down in the second half, but he looks like he has the skills to be able to repeat his performance in 2008-09. Newly acquired Erik Christensen and Colby Armstrong add some depth at forward, but are in the same boat as Todd White, Eric Perrin and Slava Kozlov as 40-60 points fantasy players. Veteran Niclas Havelid returns on defense but will not be able to put up more than 25-30 points. Goalie Kari Lehtonen should still be considered one of the best young goalies in the league, but until the Thrashers surround him with help on defense his numbers will not reflect his true talent.

Departures

Center Bobby Holik is a UFA and likely will not re-sign. Mark Recchi, who put up respectable numbers for the Thrashers last season is also a UFA but has expressed a desire to remain in Atlanta. Backup goaltender Johan Hedberg has likely played his last game in Atlanta.

Prospects

After trading away prospects and draft picks over the last few seasons, the Thrashers cupboard is bare. Bryan Little, who played in 48 games last season with the Thrashers and had 16 points remains their top prospect, but he is still a few years away from making an impact. Angelo Esposito, once considered a can't miss prospect appears to be sinking faster than the Titanic in terms of his overall development and AHL star Brett Sterling may be running out of chances if he can't translate his scoring touch to the NHL. Goaltender Ondrej Pavelec looks to have the backup spot after fairing well in the AHL and could get in a lot of action next season with behind an injury-prone Kari Lehtonen

Draft

The Thrashers have the third pick in the draft and although they need help in almost every area, a stud on defense is their most pressing need after trading away Braydon Coburn to the Flyers at the 2006-07 deadline. Two of OHL standouts Drew Doughty, Zach Bogasian or Alex Pietrangelo will still be available, and one will be the likely choice. The Thrashers also have a late-first round pick as part of the Marian Hossa trade and may also use that pick to build up there defense.

Needs

Where to start. The Thrashers finished 30th in goals-against last season, and definitely need help on defense to help goaltender Kari Lehtonen. Two top-four d-men should be their first priority. The Thrashers also cannot rely on just Ilya Kovalchuk for offense and should try to land a top-centerman to keep Kovalchuk happy, as he is set to become a UFA at the end of the 2008-09 season. With plenty of cap space available, the Thrashers also need a top-six winger to help make up for a declining Slava Kozlov and the loss of Marian Hossa.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

I look to see Johan Hedberg back for 1 more season and possibly Mark Recchi.

nebcanuck said...

Canadians witnessed the full force of Kovalchuck the other day, that's for sure!

I've never seen him as much of a clutch scorer, which is why I always thought of him as lower in the books than top-10. He can rack up the numbers, yeah, but to me it seems he lacks in leadership and drive down the stretch.

But there was no questioning his tenacity at the World Cup the other day. Two goals to tie and win the game, against the (second) best team in that tournament? That's a tough move to beat!

If Kovalchuck could play like that more often, I think the Thrash would be a team to be reckoned with. Hopefully it turns out that this is a shifting point in his career, rather than a source of tension between a skilled player and the franchise. They don't need to lose him like they lost Hossa.