Do The Thrashers Have Large Talons?

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Wolves End Summer Hockey with a Championship

The Chicago Wolves won the AHL Championship last night beating out the Penguins farm club. It was entertaining to watch, especially that 3rd goal by Jason Krog. The eternal post-game victory celebration was also entertaining. I thought both Pavelec and Valabik came across very well in their post-game comments. Pavelec was clearly moved by the experience and Valabik was very articulate and thoughtful in a moment when most people get swept in emotion.

I missed a couple of games during the finals as I was out of town. I recorded them and may go back and view them again later, but here are my impressions of some Thrashers prospects right now:

Arturs Kulda: I REALLY liked him at last summer's Thrasher Prospect Camp and he won the confidence of the Wolves coaching staff at the young age. He made a fantastic pass in the final game that led directly to a Wolves goal. I like his potential but he's not ready yet. Nearly every game he took a hit deep in his own zone and coughed up the puck. He simply needs to keep his head up more and chip that puck forward BEFORE receiving the hit. NHL guys do it all the time--it is something he must learn to reach the next level.

Ondrej Pavelec: First let me say I find evaluating goaltenders to be a challenge since I've never played the position (unlike defense and forward). Pavelec has some great building blocks in terms of his lateral mobility and size. Both Lehtonen and Pavelec are really big guys but Lehtonen is more a "play position and let the puck hit me" while Pavelec is more of "react to every shot" sort. Pavelec makes great saves that take him out of the net and leave him vulnerable to 2nd shot attempts. At the NHL level he will really need defensemen who can cover up his back door side.

Bryan Little: Great defensive player, great speed and determination, very little professional level finish right now. He's still really young and should improve some, but right now he looks more like an above average checking center with some skill. He just doesn't finish enough to be a guy you can count on to score in the NHL. To me he is the natural successor to Holik on the 3rd line and Erik Christenson and Todd White play on the top two scoring lines next season.

5 Comments:

  • What do you think about Krog, Haydar, and Stirling? I was looking at their numbers, and wonder if they are ready. I have been thinking about what someone said about Krog; I know he is 31, and was the team scoring leader during the regular season and the playoffs. Do you think that any of these other guys are ready to make the jump to the NHL? I came across Rob Scuderi's profile for the Pens, and he is 30 also. He has really only played 1 full season in the NHL. If you think this way, do you think Krog is ready to move up, and if so, do you think he is worthwhile in giving him a try? Scuderi did add some things to the Pens, and wasn't spectacular, but he helped in some key times with good passes, some good defense at times. He is a defenseman though. I wonder if Krog might be a good 3rd or 4th liner by now.

    I agree with you on the numbers for Little; not quite as ready as I had hoped. But Haydar and Sterling's numbers were better. During regulary season, Stirling had 71 points (38 G, 33 A), and Haydar had 58 points (19 G, 39 A). Int the playoffs for the Calder Cup, though, it was the opposite; Haydar had 27 points (12 G, 15 A), and Stirling had 9 pts. (4 G, 5 A). Was Stirling injured for the playoffs? I just can't believe that he had such a dropoff, but then again, Malkin did during the Stanley Cup Finals, so I guess anything is possible.

    What about the coaches search? Who do you like? Wilson is going to Toronto; Tortorella, Crawford, McLellan, Deboer, Burns are available. There were 5 coaches that Ottawa is looking at I heard them mention Hartley, Pat Burns, and McLellan, but there were two others. I am curious to know who they are considering. I know Brian Murray is going to have to make some gutsy moves this summer to make up for the debacle of this past season.

    I am a teacher too; I am not a professor, but I have the summer off to blog. So, I am interested to see what you have to say.

    I have to say that I really enjoy your blog as you seem to be extremely well informed. Thanks for doing what you do. By the way, I was hoping you were wrong about Detroit, but after seeing some of the 1st two games of the Cup Finals, I knew you were right. There was just no way. I knew it was when not if Detroit was going to win.

    By Anonymous Steve, at 3:07 PM  

  • Funny I just mentioned the coaches search. Ottawa has looked at Deboer, Hartley, and Craig Hartsburg. Ottawa and Deboer deny that Deboer has the job, but it looks like he may be the front runner for the Ottawa job.

    What do you think about Granato being hired for the Avs head coach job? Wasn't he coaching there before? If so, why would they rehire him?

    By Anonymous Steve, at 3:11 PM  

  • re: Krog played a checking line role with Anaheim pre-lockout. I'd rather keep him as a AHL insurance policy who can be called up if injuries hit your top 6 forwards.

    re: Sterling was most certainly hurt. He broke a bone and probably wasn't 100% when he came back.

    re: Haydar. He deserves a serious look, but you can only have so many short forwards. Last season we had Kozlov, Recchi and Little. If Recchi doesn't return, I'd give Haydar a serious ice time and PP time and see what he can do. If he score he will be CHEAP.

    re: Coaches. I think McLellan has to be the favorite.

    re: Granato. Yes, I think it was a bit strange the re-hired him. I'm assuming they now think they rushed him into the head coaching job before he was ready. Or perhaps they think now that they have mostly young guys now.

    By Blogger The Falconer, at 6:17 PM  

  • Falconer,
    Thanks for the reply. Not surprised Sterling was hurt. Wow! What a change in just two days. Hate that McLellan is now coaching the Sharks, but I can't blame him.
    With what is left, this is now what I think:
    it looks like John Anderson is the leading candidate with McCrimmon behind him.

    McCrimmon has some experience, and was the associate coach last season. He ran the practices, and the word was that he was more easy going than Hartley. The players also liked him too.

    However, Anderson's resume is more impressive; he has 3 league championships as well as this year's Calder Cup. Now, in my mind, he is just a step below McLellan as the only difference is that McLellan was an assistant with this season's Stanley Cup Champs. Don't know if Anderson can do that, but looking at what Boudreau did with Washington, Anderson could do that and create the same type of system finally between the Thrashers, the Wolves, and the Gladiators. If that were done, I think that the Thrashers would be more successful this season and seasons to come.

    It is hard to deny the success that Washington had this season; I think that with a few more key personnel, Washington is not far from advancing to the next level. It may take the Thrashers longer; then again, it may not. Look at what Philly did in one season. They were last in 2006-2007, and this year, they went to the Eastern Conference Finals; I don't know about you all, but I was impressed, and I don't think many people picked Philly to go that far. I thought Washington was going to knock them out early, but there is no replacing the experience that Philly has in the playoffs with players like Knuble, Timmonen, Briere, and others. Washington may have had some, but I suspect that Philly had more experienced players in the playoffs.

    Anderson gets my vote for coach; I feel bad for McCrimmon, but he should stay on as an assistant, and get more responsibilities. Maybe, since he was a defenseman with Philly, he should focus on that aspect of the team. God knows our defense needs help.

    By Anonymous Steve, at 9:07 AM  

  • Facloner,

    I'm intrigued with Kulda. 6'2", 195 lb, 19-years old, and is already making good plays in the AHL after just 35 games as a pro. Are you thinking he spends the entire 08/09 season in Chicago and then could get a serious look for the Thrashers in 09/10?

    I appreciate your comments on his needing to learn to chip the puck earlier in his zone, but what are your thoughts on his skating?

    By Anonymous d, at 9:14 AM  

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