Restoring the Rosters: Atlanta Thrashers

Atlanta Thrashers v New Jersey Devils

Based on Matthew Pouliot’s series on Circling the Bases, I have decided restore the rosters for every NHL team.  Like Pouliot, I have established some ground rules for my selections.

  1. Each team contains players they originally drafted or signed before any other NHL team.  This includes players drafted and not signed, as well as European free agents coming over at an older age.
  2. I have chosen to leave retired players off the list, and lean toward players in the AHL rather than those deported (KHL, SEL, DEL, etc.).

Essentially I am choosing the best available players for a team to succeed in the current NHL season.  All 30 teams will be covered, with grades assigned to forwards, defense and goaltending.  After all 30 articles are written, they will be ranked in order.  This series’ intent is to reward or shame NHL scouts.

With 6 out of their 11 total drafts in the top 5, 2 more in the top 10 and 2 more in the top 15, the Thrashers drafting has failed them in the long run.  With Little more of a RW, the team is yet to develop a legitimate top 6 center at all.  The teams depth is lacking at both forward and goaltending with way too many question marks.

The lineup for the Atlanta Thrashers is as follows.


Despite a few marquee players, the Thrashers are extremely weak at the forward position.  Although the team has drafted fairly high throughout its history, they failed to draft a decent top six.

Dany Heatley Bryan Little Ilya Kovalchuk

Evander Kane Jim Slater Pat Dwyer

Andrew Kozek Derek MacKenzie – Darcy Hordichuk

Brett SterlingRiley HolzapfelSpencer Machacek

Extras: Colin Stuart, Simon Gamache

Outside of Kovalchuk and Heatley the Thrashers developed very few NHL regulars.  Yes, Little and Kane are potential cornerstones, but they still are relatively unproven.  The failures of Alex Bourret and Patrick Stefan amongst others really has hurt their chances for a solid homegrown team.

There are only four forwards who have played more than a full NHL season.  With promising young players Danick Paquette, Daulton Leveille, Carl Klingberg and Jeremy Morin in the system, the future looks bright.  However with those players still 2-4 years away, the current forward crop lacks depth.

Grade: C-


The D corps contains solid depth, however very little high-end potential.

Braydon Coburn – Zach Bogosian

Tobias Enstrom – Brian Pothier

Garnett Exelby – Boris Valabik

Extras: Mike Weaver, Nathan Oystrick

The combination of Coburn and Bogosian makes for a solid first pairing in the future.  Both players are young and versatile but neither have completely established themselves.  As of right now, Coburn is not a top pairing defensemen due to his limited puck-moving ability.  One could argue switching him with Enstrom.  The second pairing is solid and Exelby/Valabik is an acceptable third pairing.

Despite the high end offensive wingers, defense is the Thrasher’s strength.  Unlike their offense, the Thrashers have two acceptable extras giving them eight defensemen that can be rotated and in turn making them able to withstand injuries. In addition, Exelby, Valabik and Coburn all have a real mean-streak which should help to improve their goals against.

Grade: C


Another shaky are for the Thrashers development as they have not developed a proven NHL starter.

Ondrej Pavelec

Kari Lehtonen

The goalie situation barely changes from its real-life scenario.  Pavelec will still have to stand on his head to keep this team in games.  With Lehtonen recovering from a hip surgery, the fight for the backup role gets slightly scary.

Grade: D+

I hope you enjoyed reading this!

-Alexander Monaghan
NHLHS Founder

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