Too Early For Predictions?

In my previous entry, Sam asked me what my thoughts were regarding the moves made by the Thrashers so far this summer and where the team might wind up in the standings this season. Although I responded with a quick “I think we’ll be better” type of comment, I thought I’d expand on that here.

First off, I do indeed feel it’s way too early to make any concrete projections on any of the teams as of yet. While most of the big signings and trades are more than likely done with, there are still 10 weeks or so before the season begins. So a lot could still happen with this squad and others between now and then. Thus, any pridictions I might make between now and opening night are subject to modification.

With that being said, I do believe that if the team…as it currently stands…was the one that took the ice on October 3 when the Bolts pay us a visit, I do think it’s better than the one from last season.

However, the question here is which team is it better than?

Is it better than the team that limped it’s way to 31 overall points after the first 41 games…the “overall” team that played to 76 points for the entire year…or the one that played to a record of 22-18-1 for 45 points in the last 41 games of the season?

Let’s start with the first one…the 31 points mess of last fall. That team was beset by injuries to Zach Bogosian and Kari Lehtonen for much of that period. It was also carrying around some dead weight…cough Jason Williams cough…who didn’t really cotton much to John Anderson’s way of playing. There were also those…cough Erik Christensen cough…who appearently could not produce as desired because of the ownership issue here.

31 points halfway through a season projects to 62 points overall. So, yeah…I think they are better than that.

How about the 76 points they finished with? Yup, I think this team…right now…should finish better than 76 points.

So…that leads us to the team we enjoyed watching so much between January through April. 45 points over 41 games projects to 90 points overall…and that is the team I wish to compare against for this little exercise.

Now, some will argue that it’s hard to use that as a benchmark from which to discuss an entire season. They were playing without the pressure of a playoff push…maybe other teams were taking them lightly…blah, blah, blah. But the facts are that the “second half” team last year was going up against a lot of squads that were fighting for playoff spots and the Thrashers didn’t do too poorly. I could understand that argument if we were talking about 10 games here or 15 games there…but we are talking half a season here folks. That just can’t be taken lightly.

Plus…if no other modifications are made to this roster… the team that suited up for those 41 games is pretty much the same that’ll do so this fall with two major exceptions. Kubina will play in Garnet Exelby’s roster spot and Nik Antropov will do so in Eric Perrin’s.

If you ask me, those are upgrades. (Sorry Gretchelby…just callin’ it like I see it).

Now, there are some wild cards in the mix here, of course. Like …how will Bryan Little do in his second full season as a Thrasher? Will Evander Kane make the roster…if so, on which line…and how will he perform in his rookie season? Can Kari Lehtonen stay healthy enough to start 68 games this year like he did in the playoff season of 2006-07?

One “intangible” item that will come into play this fall is that of familiarity. John Anderson will not a be a rookie NHL coach this season and, as stated above, with the exception of Antropov and Kubina, the rest of the starting lineup should closely resemble that of the one that finished off last spring. So, there isn’t going to be the “getting used to a new system” excuse or “players are learning how to play with each other” line.

Therefore…given all that…at this time I would say that the 2009-10 Thrashers should finish closer to 90 points than 76 points. The big question in 2 months will be… will that be “closer” below 90 points or “closer” above 90 points.

151 comments Add your comment

Smitty

July 23rd, 2009
1:30 pm

As you said it is too early for predictions. One big IF is whether Kovy signs before camp or even before the season begins. Hate to have that as a distraction. Should Kovy sign early I think above 90 points is a good posibility. The additions of Kubina and Andropov are an upgrade.
The young guys came through last year and they should be better this year. If Kane makes the team who knows. Young and fast. Could be an exciting year at Phillips.

Archie

July 23rd, 2009
1:38 pm

One of my complaints every offseason is that there is always WAY too much roster turnover. For years, we’d go into the season with 10 new faces on the depth chart. Finally, that doesn’t appear to be the case this year. Familiarity with the coaching scheme (another thing we never had before was a bona fide “scheme” and team identity) and only a few players that need to get their sea legs under them by learning with new teammates should really limit the early season struggles.

Darren

July 23rd, 2009
1:45 pm

It might be a cliche, but the most important person who will determine the success or failure will be Kari Lehtonen. If he finally breaks through and consistently shows the talent we all know is there, Atlanta will legitimately take that next step.

If he’s the same inconsistent, so-so player that hasn’t quite developed that mental toughness he needs to be a true dominant number 1 that he’s also unfortunately shows at times, Atlanta could struggle.

Barack Obama

July 23rd, 2009
1:54 pm

The Republicans are blocking health care! The Republicans are hurting this country! The Republicans just want to attack their opposition! But you would never hear me say anything bad about the Republicans the way they say bad things.

It’s too early for predictions! But let me tell you about what might happen.

Sorry Mr. Tiller but I just had to have fun with that little analogy. I hope you aren’t a liberal who will be offended by that joke.

Buzilla in CT

July 23rd, 2009
2:01 pm

Swammy sayz:

Thrashers 94 pts
Washington 93 pts
Carolina 89 pts
Tampa Bay 75 pts
Florida 71 pts

side note predictions:

Rick DiPietro pulls a Mike Hampton and the Islanders eat the remainder of the contract

Daniel Heatley gets traded to Rangers for Gaborik

Kovalchuk resigns before camp and goes on to earn Richard and MVP honors

Bogo gets voted to the All-Star game

Lehts plays the whole year and gets 40 wins

Evander Kane makes team out of camp but plays in Chicago for a majority of the year

Rawhide quits his job to become a full time sports blogger following the footsteps of Craig Custance.

…and the Jets play Atlanta in the Superbowl with the Jets WINNING

…Chicago wins Stanley Cup with Hossa injured

…Cleveland wins NBA title
…Cardinals win world series

The Earl of Bud (formerly Ice Dog)

July 23rd, 2009
2:04 pm

Buzilla in CT, you already missed one prediction. Kane can’t play in Chicago this year, he is under 20. The other stuff was fun to read.

Russian

July 23rd, 2009
2:04 pm

Great Post. I am thinking that we can make PO in this year. I do not know how deep we can go in PO, but Thrashers will be between First and 8-th place. I am not worry about Kovy contract. He is a leader and Captian. He will play hard even if he did not sign contract at summer. I like to see Kane in second line with White and Little. Slava should play in 3-d line with Reason and Army. It is very Many IF’s but I am very optimistic for new season. Let’s go Thrashers.

Buzilla in CT

July 23rd, 2009
2:06 pm

I meant to say we trade him to Chicago Blackhawks for Duncan Keith

Alan

July 23rd, 2009
2:07 pm

Evander Kane makes team out of camp but plays in Chicago for a majority of the year

Can’t happen. He plays here or goes back to Juniors.

R. Stroz

July 23rd, 2009
2:22 pm

I predict the Thrashers procure between 40 and 130 points this season.

Anyone want to take ONE DOLLAR bets?

The Earl of Bud (formerly Ice Dog)

July 23rd, 2009
2:27 pm

“I meant to say we trade him to Chicago Blackhawks for Duncan Keith”

I know what you mean. Like last year when I bet that “Pittsburgh will get knocked out of the second round” I really meant to bet “Pittsburgh will win the Stanley Cup and the Super Bowl”. But the folks at Caeser’s Palace wouldn’t believe me.

Sara

July 23rd, 2009
2:29 pm

Liberal and conservative idiocy belongs on Wooten’s and Bookman’s blogs – not here. We have a hard enough time playing nice as it is without adding political fuel to the fire. ;)

My prediction – at least 7 months of really fun hockey. And everyone on the Thrashers remembers to keep their head up when we play TO. :)

Don Waddles

July 23rd, 2009
2:44 pm

I predict this season will actually make me look smart!

Brendan

July 23rd, 2009
2:49 pm

As is, I think the Thrashers finish with 84-86 points. They need to keep signing players if they’re going to make the playoffs. It’s that, or the NY Rangers, Montreal, Washington, or Carolina take a serious downward turn, to the point where Atlanta sneaks in at #8. Remember, the NY Islanders got in with 83-points one year. It’s an oddity. But it happened. Let’s just see how these October games play out. That will set the tone for the rest of the year.

Also, Atlanta might not have many Olympians this year, so they’ll be rested after the break. And hopefully, they’ll be in playoff position, or within striking distance, after the Olympic break. I’m optimistic. But the reality, for me, right now is … I see 86-points with this roster. And that’s probably not good enough. But it’s still a step in the right direction. If we are out of it at the deadline, we could be trading many players. Lehtonen, Kubina, maybe even Sterling. That could make the team better for the 2011 season.

Within the division, I saw Carolina just locked up Ruutu on a 3-year deal, which Rutherford called, “a cornerstone piece” of their future. Washington, on the other hand, has lost Viktor Kozlov and Sergei Federov. I forgot where I saw that, however. Someone should double-check that. If true, then Washington has to do something to make sure they stay atop the Southeast Division for the third-straight year. I don’t yet know what to think of Florida. But I think T.B. will flounder and be a joke. Carolina might win this division, this time around.

R. Stroz

July 23rd, 2009
2:52 pm

Earl/Dog – Don’t pick on Buzilla, his wife a cubic zirconia ring and doesn’t know how to read.

The Earl of Bud (formerly Ice Dog)

July 23rd, 2009
3:11 pm

“It’s that, or the NY Rangers, Montreal, Washington, or Carolina take a serious downward turn”

Brendan, I predict that Montreal will take a downward turn. Gomez and Gionta can’t be your primary threats on a very revamped roster.

If you over/under is 85 points, I’ll bet the over with ya buddy.

“Earl/Dog – Don’t pick on Buzilla, his wife a cubic zirconia ring and doesn’t know how to read.

R. Stroz, if someone lobbs a softie over the middle of the plate, you can’t tell me not to swing. Confusing a player going to our farm team with him being traded for another player? Besides I don’t think anyone is taking me seriously on those sarcastic posts anyway.

Alan

July 23rd, 2009
3:13 pm

V. Kozlov and S. Federov have signed in Russia.

Buzilla in CT

July 23rd, 2009
3:17 pm

I was not taking you seriously Earl. Though I did brain f@rt on E.Kanes terms of making the team, but whatever, I was brainstorming

Mr. Stroz is referring to a very old joke of a over a year ago. He might be happy to know that my wife and I just celebrated our one year anniversay on July 19th and she still doesn’t know if the ring is real or not (but it is real)

R. Stroz

July 23rd, 2009
3:29 pm

Congrats Buzilla! Any kids in the works or are you just practicing?

Will you be venturing to Atlanta during hockey season? If so, I’ll spot you a beverage at Gorins.

The Earl of Bud (formerly Ice Dog)

July 23rd, 2009
3:36 pm

Buzilla in CT, don’t worry Mr. Stroz has already been the recipient of my sarcasm as well. If you read my posts they are very analytical (like disecting if Lehtonen faces too many SOG) but somethings I just take the vague details on (like the length of a contract). So when I gave a lump sum of cap space over a few contracts but it wasn’t broken out properly at the granular level, Mr. Stroz pulled the “aha!” on me but boy did I give it back to him.

On that note, I predict the Boston Bruins will also take a downward turn and may struggle to make the playoffs again.

ben

July 23rd, 2009
3:37 pm

90+ points IF Kari is as advertised. IF NOT same ole story. Kovy signs 3-5 yrs. IF Kane makes the team AND He sticks, AND HE puts in 25+ goals, Le Thrash wins the division IF Kari is as advertised. Either way, Kari will not be here next season.

Hockey Biltong

July 23rd, 2009
3:38 pm

wanna go left, wanna go right,
stand up , sit down, fight , fight, fight!

Buzilla in CT

July 23rd, 2009
3:41 pm

We are currently working on Baby Buzilla’s. My seed should be delivered shortly. 18 years from now the Thrashers will be selecting my kid 1st overall in the 2027 draft

Buzilla in CT

July 23rd, 2009
3:42 pm

I am looking forward to the tax deductions

Buzilla in CT

July 23rd, 2009
3:45 pm

I predict that you will hear someone say “fire Waddell” on every blog on the Thrashers this year on the AJC

Pam on Weck

July 23rd, 2009
3:49 pm

In the Southeast, Carolina is a functional smart team that can put forth a consistent effort without being too flashy. They will rise to the top with little fanfare. The big story will be the 2nd place playoff-bound Thrashers, followed closely by a bewildered Washington. Tampa Bay is next learning to crawl before they can walk and finally Florida taking a tumble.

Most of the Northeast will be crying by Christmas. If the demonized Heatley is forced to stay with a demoralized Ottawa, they won’t get any better. Boston will keep the dream alive. Toronto will surprise everyone, but only because Ottawa, Buffalo and Montreal will play worse.

Philadelphia will claw and scratch their way to the top of the Atlantic, edging out Pittsburgh. The Isles will improve on the whole, but not rise in their division.

The Earl of Bud (formerly Ice Dog)

July 23rd, 2009
3:51 pm

Brendan, I will also predict that the Rangers take a downward spiral also. Gaborik isn’t going to be fantastic, they are missing Antropov, Gomez and possibly Zherdev from last year’s roster. Kotalik isn’t first line talent. They and Montreal will be the two teams who are out from last year. Although I am biased Atlanta and Buffalo will be the two teams in.

R. Stroz

July 23rd, 2009
3:53 pm

“Mr. Stroz pulled the “aha!” on me but boy did I give it back to him.”

Yeah Earl/Dog, you’re just a real BAMF. LMAO

R. Stroz

July 23rd, 2009
3:56 pm

OOPS, I forgot Earl/Dog…Off With Your Head!

Don Waddell

July 23rd, 2009
3:57 pm

FIRE WADDELL

The Earl of Bud (formerly Ice Dog)

July 23rd, 2009
4:03 pm

Pam on Weck, since you are doing a full conference I will sum mine up too. I pretty much already named my 8 teams since I picked two that will fall out of the playoffs and who the two newbies will be. We really only disagree on Buffalo, I think that if Miller doesn’t get injured like last year they can fight with Boston who will be worse because Thomas won’t have a stellar Vezina year again. If Savard doesn’t do awesome they are not going to perform well and guys like Bergeron, Lucic & Krejci are going to have to continue to outpace their great young performances which I don’t think will happen. Not to mention they are already over the cap and are going to lose Kessel. So here goes:

NE: Buf – Bos, winner gets 3rd place and fewer points than 4th place
Atl: Pit – Phi – NJ, winner gets 1st
SE: Was – Car – Atl, winner gets 2nd

Barack Obama

July 23rd, 2009
4:05 pm

My stimulus plan hasn’t accomplished all of its goals cause The Earl of Bud really needs a job.

The Earl of Bud (formerly Ice Dog)

July 23rd, 2009
4:12 pm

Oh no! Some person using an anonymous name whose face I can’t see said I needed a job. Where’s a therapist with the prozac? How will I ever talk about hockey again?

Rick Dudley

July 23rd, 2009
4:15 pm

Promote Waddell!

R. Stroz

July 23rd, 2009
4:27 pm

Barack Obama – Don’t pick on Earl/Dog, we want him to talk more hockey.

The Earl of Bud (formerly Ice Dog)

July 23rd, 2009
4:32 pm

I predict someone will log in on this website under a different name they normally use and say something negative.

I predict Toronto will lead the league in PIM.

Brian Burke

July 23rd, 2009
4:40 pm

I’m proud of my goons and monsters.

Rawhide

July 23rd, 2009
4:43 pm

Zilla – Just make sure that the first born son has a middle name of “Rawhide”!

rightshot

July 23rd, 2009
4:51 pm

I will only be bold enough to predict Atlanta makes the playoffs, most likely as 7th or 8th seed.

h

July 23rd, 2009
5:11 pm

It probably is a little early, but considering the current moves and the way the Thrash have played since 2nd half of last season, Id’ say somewhere between 86-96 points. I certainly hope closer to the higher number. Here’s to hoping for a fun March and April of hockey (and May as well). Cheers!

Tom

July 23rd, 2009
5:29 pm

Saw this post and wanted to share it with you.

http://www.coppernblue.com/2009/7/23/958613/the-almost-top-fifty-goalies-over

For those who love to bash Kari, he does stack up very well against the competition. We have to remember that he has done this with a sub-par defense in front of him.

1 Niklas Backstrom: 93-45-22, 2.24 GAA, .923 SV%
2 Jonas Hiller: 33-22-2, 2.28 GAA, .921 SV%
3 Tomas Vokoun: 83-64-18, 2.54 GAA, .921 SV%
4 Martin Brodeur: 111-59-16, 2.22 GAA, .920 SV%
5 Roberto Luongo: 115-64-22, 2.33 GAA, .919 SV%
6 Tim Thomas: 94-59-17, 2.58 GAA, .919 SV%
7 Cristobal Huet: 71-45-13, 2.53 GAA, .916 SV%
8 Steve Mason: 33-20-7, 2.29 GAA, .916 SV%
9 Henrik Lundqvist: 112-71-25, 2.33 GAA, .915 SV%
10 Martin Biron: 77-51-17, 2.75 GAA, .914 SV%
11Jean-Sebastien Giguere: 90-45-20, 2.44 GAA, .914 SV%
12 Dan Ellis: 34-29-7, 2.62 GAA, .913 SV%
13 Kari Lehtonen: 70-68-17, 2.90 GAA, .913 SV%
14 Chris Mason: 69-54-17, 2.56 GAA, .913 SV%
15 Ilya Bryzgalov: 64-64-18, 2.67 GAA, .912 SV%

Barry

July 23rd, 2009
5:58 pm

Rawhide I couldn’t agree with you more. This was lightly discussed on the Thrashers message boards. Kubina is an upgrade over XLB including more scoring on top of being a bigger more mobile defenseman. Antropov should help Kovy even more and get back to scoring 50 goals again. We have the same team pretty much from last season so there won’t be any learning curve or stubborn vets mucking up the system. They know how to play the system, believe in it, and won with it. I’m anxious to see how the powerplay shapes up with the addition to Kubina and Antropov. Thrashers were in the top 10 in powerplay % all year. That should increase. The real big question for me is will the overall team defense improve and will the PK improve?

NASCAR Dave

July 23rd, 2009
6:54 pm

Predictions???

They WON’T make the Playoffs… And DONNIE FRAUDELL still stays around…

Why would things here EVER CHANGE???

The Earl of Bud (formerly Ice Dog)

July 23rd, 2009
7:04 pm

Barry and Rawhide, I think one thing worth noting is how will we look by having Peverley for a full season. He was a p/g player (if it is around .9 that’s good enough for me to say p/g player for casual talks like these) in his time in Atlanta but his Nashville numbers dragged down his average (probably why they let the gem go). But if he is with us a full year that should be 70+ points from him which can fight that slump that you referred to in the beginning of the year when he wasn’t here.

With that said I predict Peverley will get roughly 25+ goals and 45+ assists if he is the first line center.

Tom, judging by what I have read so far around here (and I have already noted the bashers that you refer to) I think most people would say that Lehtonen is great if he isn’t injured. Unfortunately, that’s a big if that makes Pavelec tough to deal away.

Sara

July 23rd, 2009
7:07 pm

Actually Dave they’re going to have a 120 point season, just to freak you out. ;)

As far as the PK goes – I think we have the personnel for it, we just haven’t been using the right ones. Kozlov and White are both good PKers but they were barely used because they were primary PPers. However with the addition of Antropov, that should help free them up to get more SH ice time. On top of that, I’m really over using Kovy on the point for 2 full minutes of PP time. It’s entirely too predictable and the other 4 guys on the ice spend most of their time passing the puck waiting for Kovy to get open. With Bogosian, Enstrom, Hainsey, and now Kubina, there is no excuse for utilizing Kovy so much on the point. That’s usually a big part of the point of having offensive defensemen on your roster. Let Kovy move down as an actual forward, which then again can reduce the amount of time Kozzie and particularly White spend on the PP. I’d go with Army and Reasoner and White and Peverly as the primary top two pairs on the PK, with Kozzie and Slater as a third option. But again, the PK is something that noticeably improved during the last part of the season so if the continuity holds, we may well be just fine.

The Earl of Bud (formerly Ice Dog)

July 23rd, 2009
7:07 pm

Why would things here EVER CHANGE???

NASCAR Dave, this is the first time in franchise history we have 6 top-6 forwards and 4 top-4 defensemen and at least one good goalie. That’s why I think things will change this year. Who do you think doesn’t belong in the list below for those top positions:

Kov-Pev-Ant
Koz-Wht-Lit

Bog-Ens
Han-Kub

Let/Pav

The Earl of Bud (formerly Ice Dog)

July 23rd, 2009
7:13 pm

Sara, I’m sold on Reasoner and Peverley but not both Armstrong and White succeeding there. But one or the other could (Armstrong or White and for purposes of using some wingers I would hope it’s Armstrong) and I think Waddudley is going to add one more person for that role who will also fill that vacancy we have on the 3rd line LW.

I also want to diminish Kozlov’s role all-around so I don’t want to start using him on the penalty kill but Slater I can agree with you on.

World Be Free

July 23rd, 2009
7:31 pm

It’s pretty safe to say that everyone’s starting goalie is the focal point of the team. Kari and his aching muscles need to stay healthy this year. Pavs will keep him looking over his shoulder, putting pressure on him. That’s a good thing for sure. I think Kari knows he’s not going to be challenged by Moose for the starting job.

Good stuff Buzilla, it was like a mini-Dennis Miller rant!

Pam – I agree the Northeast is going to be pretty mediocre, with Buffalo poised once again to get swept by the Thrashers.

Earl- we all talk about Miller’s injury being the reason Buffalo was out of it. I think their problem had to do with not being able to beat Atlanta and the NY Islanders. Had they taken care of business, they would not have had to learn on backup goaltending when the chips were down. But you and I can agree that in a full season, as Miller goes so do the Sabres. I am working on that new name, I think I have one but I have to ponder further.

I still think we have to look at one of the youngsters to step up this year, claim a roster spot and make an impact. I won’t make predictions under we are close to the start of the season.

Chicago decided not to resign Havlat, partially because of his injury history I am sure, I wonder what they think of Mary Ann Hossa!

LAC

July 23rd, 2009
7:38 pm

Washington 112
Carolina 94
Tampa 90
Florida 86
Atlanta 74

Still no defense, nothing has changed from last year, not enought to make any difference in GA, that, as it ALWAYS has…, Will doom Atlanta to yet another season to forget.

The Earl of Bud (formerly Ice Dog)

July 23rd, 2009
8:11 pm

“Still no defense, nothing has changed from last year, not enought to make any difference in GA

LAC, I will just give a quote from Puck Daddy below regarding your claim that we have no defense and totally disregarding Zach Bogosian. Not that I agree with Puck Daddy all the time but when even the national media is giving us some credit it might be legit.

“Atlanta’s top four D-men are now Kubina, Zach Bogosian, Tobias Enstrom and Ron Hainsey. That’s not shabby.