Like a doomed airplane spinning out of control due to its pilot and co-pilot becoming sick to the state of unconsciousness after eating tainted fish, the Atlanta Thrashers have fallen from the lofty altitude of playoff contention and are in grave danger of crash-landing into Lotterypickville.
Ah, Lotterypickville… It’s a rough place, the seediest dive on the wharf. Populated with every reject and cutthroat from Bombay to Calcutta. It’s worse than Detroit.
Most NHL franchises avoid this place at any cost. But not the Thrashers…they actually have a P.O. Box in the local post office.
Just a week and a half ago the Thrashers were riding a 4-0-2 wave after a 6-3 win over then Islanders on March 4, were resting in the 8th and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with 66 points and many were telling me that surely they were ready to make a run at the post-season.
Well, it appears they weren’t…and don’t call me Shirley!
Since that time Atlanta has gone 0-5-1, coming just shy of cracking open a Thrasherville Six-Pack by at least taking Phoenix to a shootout before losing their sixth straight. In doing so, they’ve sunk into 11th place in the east with but 67 points and only six teams in the league have gathered fewer…Edmonton, Toronto, Columbus, Carolina, the Islanders and Florida. However, the Panthers are but a point in back of the Thrashers while New York and the CBJs are two behind…and Columbus plays the Oilers tonight.
I was asked recently by a friend of mine how it felt to be a Thrashers fan recently. My response…” Do you know what it’s like to fall in the mud and get kicked… in the head… with an iron boot? Of course you don’t, no one does. It never happens. Sorry, that’s a dumb question… skip that”.
Anyway…all this means, of course, is that we in Thrasherville may once again be looking at our logo on a certain amount of draft pick lottery ping-pong balls shortly after this campaign comes to an end. Depending on how they drop, we’ll begin anew the time-honored tradition in these parts of discussing just who the Thrashers should select with that early draft pick when the 30 NHL teams gather in L.A. on June 25.
But I say, why wait…let’s get the ball rolling right now.
Here is a list of the top five prospects available in the draft as ranked by TSN.com back in September 2009. Tell me what you can make of this. I mean, besides a hat or a brooch or pterodactyl…
Taylor Hall: 6’-1”, 185 pound Canadian left wing playing currently for the OHL’s Windsor Spitfires.
TSN Insider’s Take: Prior to the 2009 draft, several NHL scouts told me that if Taylor Hall were eligible they would take the Kingston, Ont., native ahead of John Tavares, Victor Hedman or Matt Duchene. Hall’s forte is as a tenacious goal-scorer who does everything at a high speed. He’s a dynamic game-breaker who is an excellent bet to be on Canada’s national junior team this year.
Cam Fowler: 6’-2”, 190 pound US defenseman playing currently for the OHL’s Windsor Spitfires.
TSN Insider’s Take: The scouts often refer to the young American as the “total package.” He has size, speed and skill and can be a force at both ends of the ice. Originally drafted by the Kitchener Rangers, the graduate of the U.S. national development program went back into the OHL draft when he didn’t report to Kitchener, only to be selected by Windsor, where he’s playing this season.
Tyler Seguin: 6’-1”, 186 pound Canadian centerman playing currently for the OHL Plymouth Whalers.
TSN Insider’s Take: I watched him play minor hockey in his very early years in Whitby. Along the way, he moved to Brampton, Ont., and the Plymouth Whaler centre has now fully blossomed as an elite offensive force who looks like a lock to be a top five pick in this draft. He’s probably viewed more as a playmaker than a goal scorer but he has an outstanding shot. Playing on a line with John McFarland and Tyler Toffoli, Seguin was outstanding at the U-18 tourney in August in the Czech Republic. Scouts raved about his play and he may have done enough there to get an invite to Canada’s final national junior camp in December.
Kirill Kabanov: 6’-3”, 176 pound Russian right wing currently playing for the KHL’s Spartak Moscow.
TSN Insider’s Take: The Russian, who is awaiting the transfer paperwork to allow him to play for the Moncton Wildcats of the Quebec League, is a highly-skilled, offensive minded lanky centre. Whether he falls victim to the so-called “Russian factor” remains to be seen, because his skills are elite and he’s one of several Russians this year who have Top 10 potential. He was, however, shut down by his future Moncton teammate Brandon Gormley in the U-18 championship game.
Brett Connolly: 6’-1”, 153 pound Canadian right wing currently playing for the WHL’s Prince George Cougars.
TSN Insider’s Take: Injury limited his effectiveness for Canada at the U-18 tourney in August – he got hurt in the first game, sat out the next two before dressing for the gold-medal game — but his excellent production for Prince George in the WHL last year has demonstrated he’s a smooth and polished offensive performer who plays the game with a great deal of confidence.
Here’s a link to the site if you care to review and discuss those further down the list.
Elsewhere, the NHL Scouting Bureau’s midterm rankings show Hall, Seguin, Fowler and Connolly as the top North American skating prospects while Mikael Granlund…a 5’-10”, 176 pound Finnish centerman tops their list of Euopean skaters.
There is also a list of top goaltending prospects at the NHL Scouting Bureau, but if the Thrashers waste another top pick on a goalie like they did in 2002, I think I just might shout out at the person responsible for such a decision, “Jive ass dude don’t got no brains no-how”!
OK, you all chew on this for a while…seeing that it’s better for you than the fish served on flight 2-0-9’er from Los Angeles to Chicago. Meanwhile, I’ll be be doing some light reading….a couple leaflets titled ”Famous Thrashers Playoff Legends” and “How to Succeed as an NHL GM” by Don Waddell.
Today’s blog entry is dedicated in memory of Peter Graves and his portrayal of Capt. Oveur in the classic cinema comedy “Airplane”.