Do The Thrashers Have Large Talons?

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Big Trade on Draft Day?

I don't usually engage in speculation on this blog but today I will. Here are some interesting facts. The Thrashers head to the NHL draft in Ottawa with two 1st round picks. Personally I think that the team would be foolhardy to deal away the #3 overall pick because the young defensemen available at that position are potential All-Stars and those sort of players are nearly impossible to trade for or sign via free agency.

On the other hand I can see a major deal involving the #29 overall pick and one of the Thrashers top goalies on draft day. Why? One reason is the fact that Hedberg was given a two year extension. I could understand keeping Pavelec in the AHL for one more season for development purposes but I have a hard time imaging a guy who has just won the AHL championship remaining there for two more years. That means the Thrashers have two starter quality goalies and just one starting job available.

My own preference would have been to let Hedberg go and have Lehtonen and Pavelec battle each other for playing time all year. On the other hand, if you have two guys battle it out and let's say Pavelec wins the starter job you just decreased the value of an asset which you might want to trade for something else.

So let's say the Thrashers have made an internal decision that Pavalec is ready. Now take a look at our roster--there are big holes on the blue line and at center. It seems perfectly logical to me that the GM might want to deal some of that depth at the goal position (don't forget that prospect Alex Kangas just turned in a terrific rookie season in college) to fill some glaring roster holes.

I assume that the club will take Doughty or Bogosian with their #3 pick which gives the organization a top four guy to go with Enstrom for the immediate future. The team also has some interesting young centers coming along in Holzapfel and Mahacek--both of whom seem more likely to end up as 3rd line guys in the NHL. Angelo Esposito will either make the NHL as top six forward of be a complete bust.

So the Thrashers might be wise to package Lehtonen and #29 overall pick to say Ottawa. I'd love to see us get our hands on young defenseman Brian Lee and perhaps centerman Nikulin. Or the Red Wings who need a young goalie to step in as Chris Osgood gets closer to 40. Perhaps the Thrashers could get Filppula or young defensemen like Ledba or Meech in some sort of package from Detroit. The Predators too might be hurting for a goalie if Ellis leaves them via free agency and they have a number of good young defensemen on their roster.

Now it is possible that nothing will happen on draft day, but in the past GM Don Waddell has made moves at the draft (Slava Kozlov, Chris Thorburn). The other factor is that the team MUST do something to give fans some reason to hope for improvement next season. Here we are picking through the coaching candidate leftovers bin and proclaiming that Zhitnik will be back--yikes! (I'll be those ticket sales people hate coming to work right now.) Not only is the clock ticking for season ticket sales but it is also clicking towards Kovalchuk's free agency in two years.

So far nothing has happened which gives the fans any reason to feel inspired. The organization needs to make a splash and it needs to make a signal move that will address the fundamental flaws on defense and provide some sense of optimism. I don't expect to win the Cup next season, but I would pay to see a collection of talented and hungry young players with a much improved defense corps.

The truth is that as much as I might like to see Brian Campbell come here and play defense for us, he will likely choose to sign with a playoff team and not here in Atlanta. The Thrashers best option to fixing up their defense might be taking one of the Doughty/Bogosian pair, trading for a Brian Lee and signing a veteran forward and defensemen to two year deals (even if you have to overpay a bit per year--avoid any 3 year commitments) to provide stability as the young guys step into the NHL. Vast reductions in the team goals against is the shortest route to playoff contention.

1 Comments:

  • I swear reading your blog is one of the few things that keeps me engaged with this team. Especially during the offseason.

    By Blogger Andy, at 8:33 PM  

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