Tuesday, September 16, 2008

NHL Season Preview: Atlanta Thrashers

Working our way up last year's standings from horrible to crappy, we find ourselves today previewing the Atlanta Thrashers. Head over to FanHouse to see where I predict the Thrash to finish (hint: DFL), and here's a hit and a miss from my preview a year ago:

[S]ince [Don Waddell] can fire head coach Bob Hartley and Hartley cannot fire Waddell, it's Hartley who will take the blame and be the first casualty should things start going awry in the ATL. Heartless, err, Hartley has seen his Thrashers improve in each of his first three full seasons with the club, but was outcoached in the playoffs and his handling of Lehtonen (playing him without rest for long stretches of the regular season and going back and forth between he and Johan Hedberg in the playoffs) could have a lasting impact on the youngster's psyche. Coaching is very much a "what have you done for me lately?" vocation, and should Atlanta get off to a slow start, don't be surprised if someone else is behind the bench come Christmas
Hartley was fired after six games (sidenote: enjoy Omsk, Bob, where Jaromir Jagr seems to have already donked off the head coach).

Prediction: 2nd Southeast Division and into the playoffs by a feather.
Hey, you guys get what you pay for from me.

what do you think - is there any chance Atlanta isn't lottery-bound? How many players on their entire roster would even make the current Caps' lineup?


Ryan said...

There's no way they aren't in the Tavares sweepstakes, but they have some really good young talent in guys like Brett Sterling and Boris Valabik and Ondrej Pavelec. I think they should deal Lehtonen while he still has value and try to get as terrible as possible to rebuild with hi draft picks.

The Coburn/Zhitnik deal set them back at least 10 years. I think its a MILLION times worse than the Luongo/Bertuzzi deal

Tyler said...

Before that Fanhouse writer goes too crazy on the alleged KHL-NHL rivalry, he should be reminded that the KHL is only the NHL's rival for NHL-rejects. So it's really a KHL-AHL rivalry.


1) As Ryan correctly points out that Zhitnik deal was colossally awful, and until then we figured only the Islanders retain their GM's after making repeated bone headed moves like this.
2) For this reason we are dubious that Waddell (probably the worst GM since Mad Mike)can be the guy to guide this team back to respectability.
3) We will more likely see this team re-located from Atlanta (again) than see Don Waddell build a championship calibre team in Georgia

Ryan said...

The best thing for them is to rebuild completely, play the kids and go through the growing pains like DC and Pittsburgh did.

The problem is, DC and Pittsburgh are/were established hockey markets. I'm just not sure the market in ATL can survive them being terrible for a few years.

Jimmy Jazz said...

God, I feel sorry for Kovalchuk. I honestly do.


1) Jimmy: Don't feel so bad for Ilya. He has this and one more year in Atlanta then he's a UFA. Free to play anywhere he wants.
2) In the mean time he'll have to 'suffer' through two more years with the Thrash and ONLY get 15 million for that trouble. Followed by an inevitable 10+ mil /year contract in a big revenue market. Has Eklund had any 'rumors' about who might try to trade for him at the deadline yet? ; )

Sombrero Guy said...

It really does boggle the mind that Waddell has been able to hold onto his job.

James Mirtle said...

A complete mess in Atlanta. The only reason Waddell's hung on is the never-ending ownership dispute.

Eli said...

Not to imply that the question was serious, but just for grins, here are the Thrashers players that could definitely make the Caps' current roster and help out this year:

Colby Armstrong, Zach Bogosian, Tobias Enstrom, Ron Hainsey, Ilya Kovalchuk, Slava Kozlov, Kari Lehtonen, Todd White and Jason Williams.

Guys like Valabik, Sterling, Christensen, Perrin, Exelby, Hedberg and Pavelec might.

Seeing Coburn finally develop with another team is indeed a rough blow, but Hainsey and Enstrom each bring more offense than Coburn and I hear Bogosian is going to be pretty good some day.

This might not be their year to win it all, but if you build from the net out, this is a team with two great young goalies and four defensive pieces in place. The challenge for management will be either keeping Kovalchuk long enough to reap the benefits of all that construction or trading him for offensive firepower on a better timetable.