Do The Thrashers Have Large Talons?

Monday, October 22, 2007

What should be done next?

There is usual rumors that Atlanta might be interested in a making a deal. Of course you don't exactly need to be a genius to see that a trade might be desirable for the Thrashers. But let's slip on the GM hat for a moment and think about our options.

First of all every potential trading partner is hoping to screw you over because you're in a bad spot. Probably the only fair deal you can make is with another struggling team. So perhaps a Toronto, LA Kings or Nashville would be a willing partner. But if you make a trade with another struggling franchise odds are you're just going to exchange struggling players and hope the change of scenery makes a difference for the guy you pick up. That's hardly a sure fire way to improve.

In the long run the Thrashers have four guys on their blueline who have all played well in previous years (Exelby, Klee, Zhitnik and Havelid). It seems to me there are two possibilities: a) they all forgot how to play hockey and should be dumped overboard; b) they are all struggling right now, but still have some ability to play in this league.

In economics class they teach you about "sunk costs" and the need to concentrate on the future and not let the past dictate your actions. The Thrashers have already sunk money and draft picks into acquiring this foursome. What's done is done: "The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ, Moves on" and now the question is what is the best course forward from this point.

If you think that all or some of them have just plain lost the ability to play NHL hockey than sending them off in dump trades would make some sense. At this point, I'm more inclined to believe that they all still have talent, but they are in a collective slump right now. If you do decide to dump them overboard you're likely to get next to nothing for them--in fact you may have to pay someone a draft pick to take them off your hands. So it makes far more sense to try and turn them around. Now the turnaround might happen too late to allow the team to make the playoffs, but if they do bounce back you then have the option of dealing them at the trade deadline for prospects who can be on the next Thrasher playoff team.

The question is who can get their performance level back up? Which brings us to the coaching question. My personal favorite among the candidates who have been touted is Randy Cunneyworth. He coaches the Buffalo system which is well suited to quick smallish forwards. It seems to me that the current Atlanta roster requires a more puck possession style of play. I'm sure there are some other talented coaches out there on junior teams that I'm simply unaware of but Cunneyworth does seem to be near the top of the coaches-on-the-rise list.

If you're the Thrashers GM you're stuck between a rock and a hard place. Making a good trade will likely be next to impossible. The easist (and best) way out is to get your underperforming assests performing again.

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