Southern Fried Hockey

Let’s take a break from the usual storylines involving the Rangers, Islanders, Wings, Leafs and free agents still available (I know I missed one or two other usual topics but you get the picture). Let’s talk about the Thrashers. Probably not a great topic of interest to many of you, I would imagine. But it’s always helpful to be able to see and understand the smaller parts of the big picture.As we all can see, the Thrashers are not what you would call a contender. Even with the acquisitions of this off-season, they will do no more than contend for a playoff spot (if even that much). But Thrashers management seems to understand and accept this, which is a bit out of the ordinary in this win-now-or-else era of hockey. The goal for the team is to be more competitive and to allow their talented prospects a chance in the NHL. And talented prospects they do have.

Veterans first.

Kozlov and McEachern provide the experience that Atlanta so desperately needs. Whether they score alot or a little makes almost no difference; their experience and stabalizing factor will be more important to the team. Smehlik and Krupp are older and injury-prone, but they are steady when healthy. And that is all that the Thrashers need. They have a stable of young Dmen on their way up; these two will provide excellent fill-ins until the time comes. Stefan has been a bust offensively but his defensive prowess is starting to show, and with that big frame he will be tough to go against. Other skilled players like Kallio and Bartecko need to find their offensive game and get on track.

Tremblay is starting to find his form as an offensive defenseman and Frank Kaberle would do the same if he can just get his confidence level up.

Prospects seconds.

Hartigan and Piros both have soft hands and that un-teachable gift for offense, they just need the experience. Agitators like Snyder, Tapper and Cowan will be very tough to play against. With only a very limited amount of games between the three of them, they already have somewhat of a reputation for being annoying (ask Lindros about Snyder). Many future NHL blueliners should come out of this crop. Safronov in time will be a great two-way defenseman; Exelby and DiPenta will be hard hitters in the back; Weaver will be just as steady as possible. Farther into the future brings big hitters like Lessard and Ustrnul and offensive threats like Foster and Nikulin.

Goaltending: Lehtonen.

Until he comes over to North America, the Thrashers have a fine group. Hnilicka will look better with a defense in front of him, Nurminen has the ability to be a star, Garnett is one of the best young goaltenders that no one has heard of.

Overall, the Thrashers future is definitely much brighter than their present. But with their recent acquisitions and the youngsters with a year under their belt, the present should at least be tolerable. Fans here in the south will enjoy it more and be ready for a brighter future (DYN: around 50% of the metro Atlanta population are northerners, more than enough to keep hockey alive in the south). Games against the Thrashers will be tougher this year and tougher still in the coming years.

It has already been proven that hockey can rise in the south. Now, we’re just gonna make it rise a little farther south.

11 Responses to Southern Fried Hockey

  1. zednik says:

    Here is a team that suprised the heck out of me this summer,

    They have added veteran help upfront to go along with the dynamic duo.

    They have addressed their need for some veteran defenceman

    Now they need a rent a goalie till Lehtonen is ready to come over and be a star.

    They have made a HUGE effort in getting better and I don’t want to say they will make the playoffs because I doubt it but they my impress out of the starting gate.

    I think Byron Dafoe for two years could do nothing but helo.


  2. UltimateB says:

    Man, I hate to nit pick, but I just had a really good laugh (laughing WITH you) about DYN. Did you know? Sorry, it’s the english major in me.

    I love the article, though. Good to hear from a smaller team, esp. the Thrashers, who are so dominated by the stardom of Kovalchuk and Heatly and the bustness of Stefan. I couldn’t name 3 other players on the roster before this, and now I still can’t, but it’s good to know that they have more than 4 players! Mad props to the atlanta fan. I’m really looking forward to watching this team in a year or two

  3. YingYan says:

    yup i have a feeling they might get their first win ever (lost ~10+ in a row?) against the PENS this year, in an exhibition game that is… ;p

    ok they’ll at least tie them in the regular season… đŸ™‚ btw i think Kovalchuk is pure offensive flair and would have stacked enormous pts back in the seventies/eighties. many small or incompetent Dmen of that era would have barfed just to catch up with him or would have served as screens etc… ;D

  4. Lint07 says:

    I’m starting to like more and more the Thrashers. Next year they are in the playoffs for sure.

    They are my 2nd favorite team after Montréal.

    Most importantly, they’ll be fun to watch, and I like that!

    Go Thrashers!

  5. amok says:

    Good article. I don’t know much about the Thrashers but I figured I should at least acknowledge a good article.

    Who knows.. in that division maybe the Thrashers can surprise.

  6. flyer73 says:

    It’s refreshing to see an article about the Thrasher’s and not just Kovalchuk & Heatley. Those 2 are ging to be great for a very long time. Heatley will be a better all around player probably similar to Modano and Kovalchuk looks like he’ll be the next great goalsorer in the Pavel Bure mold. The Thrashers have made some very good moves this summer. Will they be better? Yes. Will it show in the standings? Probably. Will they make the playoffs this year? Not a chance.

  7. Scopus4155 says:

    I live in Atlanta and was a former season ticket holder with the Thrashers during their first 2 seasons. I am excited about watching the team this year the most though.

  8. adambuffalo says:

    I would like to personally thank the Thrashers for taking richard smehlik off our hands up in buffalo. you should expect more out of the aging uwe krupp than smehlik. krupp is a very classy player and will always give you guys 100%. good luck this season.

  9. ManillaKilla says:

    “krupp is a very classy player and will always give you guys 100%”

    have you even been watching hockey the last few years. krupp doesn’t even give 100% in practice.

  10. Hockeytown says:

    Yeah, but he sure gets to know the trainer real well!

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