Thursday, August 26, 2010

2010-2011 Atlanta Thrashers Preview

Vaccum the cheetos dust out of the keyboard ladies, fantasy hockey is rapidly approaching. With Yahoo Fantasy Hockey opening up yesterday, leagues are rapidly forming all over the net. Hell, I'm already in three leagues myself now and will probably join another four or five. There just isn't enough ownage on the net, but that's why I'm here. Anyway today we're running down the Thrashers.

The Atlanta Thrashers

LOL, no seriously... I'm like a 10 million dollar boat anchor

Previous Year's Team Stats

35 wins, 34 losses, 13 OTL, 83 points, 23rd overall in the league.

Team Analysis

The Atlanta Thrashers have undergone a significant face lift in the last year. Changing general managers from former used car salesman turned NHL executive Don Waddel to veteran GM Rick Dudley. Losing NHL franchise player Ilya Kovalchuk. The Thrashers also made significant trades with the reigning Stanley Cup Champions to bring in five of their former players. And the Thrashers are few years in one of the better youth movements in the NHL. 

The forwards corps of this team boasts a lot of youth, a solid combination of grit and skill, and a healthy supply of depth. However Atlanta doesn't boast much top end talent up front. Former 4th overall pick Evander Kane is the player to watch in Atlanta this season. Kane at 18 years old was able to put together a very respectable season in Atlanta last year and will look to build on it in the Thrashers top six. Bryan Little had a poor sophomore slump last season after breaking out with a 30 goal campaign in his first full season. This was largely because he had no talent to play with through much of the year. Look for him to improve to a 25 goal campaign this season with improved talent around him. Nik Antropov established himself as a legit first line player leading the Thrashers attack with 67 points in 76 games. Look for him to build upon those numbers as he again will carry the top line. The Chicago trades basically switched both teams depth players which resulted in Atlanta having one of the most solid second and third lines in the league. This group is rounded out by Andrew Ladd who should have a career year with an expanded role. The Thrashers also added Dustin Byfuglien (by far the most overrated player in the league right now) and talented grinder Ben Eager to round out their top nine. Prospects insane frenchman Patrice Cormier and recent draftee Alex Burmistrov will look to compete for a place on the Thrashers opening night roster. The Thrashers success in their offense will come from a balanced attack up front and hopefully their young players being able to rise to the occasion. 

The Thrashers have assembled perhaps one of the most talented young back-ends in the league. With Tobias Enstrom quietly emerging as a legit top pairing defenseman and rising star Zach Bogosian each taking another step last season. The Thrashers also added Johnny Oduya who will be a minutes eater and can play in all three zones. Ron Hainsey will be the Thrashers de facto shutdown defenseman and will get the bulk of PK time with Oduya. Rounding out this core will be Ritz Cracker's arch-nemsis Brent Sopel who will round out the Thrashers PP units. The Thrashers's sixth defenseman will most likely be rookie Arthurs Kulda who will cut his teeth on the NHL this season.

In net the Thrashers have 22 year old Ondrej Pavelec, who was the very definition of mediocre last season. The Thrashers have also signed journeyman goaltender (and Dwayne Roloson 2.0) Chris Mason. The Thrashers intend to platoon the two goalies and hope for Pavelec to take another step forward in his development. However look for Mason to take over the bulk of starts by the mid-point of the season. 

Team Trending

One has to think the Thrashers are trending upwards from their position last year. The addition of seven new players from their opening day roster and five players 23 or younger shows that the Thrashers are heading in a vastly different direction. The question and the story of the Thrashers this season will be will this new mix gel and lead to success. I think right now the Thrashers are a bubble playoff team as their young players will gain another year of experience and their new players will blossom with the potential of expanded opportunity. Look for them to come in somewhere around 14th to 18th place in the league.

BVB Projected Opening Night Line-Up

Kane Antropov Bergfors
Ladd Peverley Little
Byfuglien Cormier Eager
Thorburn Slater Machacek



Player Projections


Nikolai Antropov - 25 G/50 A 75 P
Evander Kane - 30 G/ 25 A 55 P
Niclas Bergfors - 25 G/30 A 55 P

Rich Peverley - 25 G/40 A 65 P
Andrew Ladd - 25 G/30 A 55 P
Bryan Little - 20 G/25 A 45 P

Dustin Byfuglien - 20 G/20 A 40 P

Patrice Cormier - 15 G/20 A 35 P
Ben Eager - 10 G/15 A 25 P

Jim Slater - 8 G/ 8 A 16 P
Chris Thornburn - 5 G/ 10 A 15 P
Spencer Machacek - 5 G/5 A 10 P


Tobias Enstrom - 8 G/50 A 58 P

Zach Bogosian - 15 G/25 A 40 P
Ron Hainsey - 3 G/25 A 28 P
Johnny Oduya - 3 G/20 A 23 P
Brent Sopel - 2 G/16 A 18 P
Arturs Kulda - 1 G/7 A P 8 P


Chris Mason - 25-20-10 | 2.65 GAA | .910
Ondrej Pavelec - 11-8-8 | 3.30 GAA | .895

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