During the first ten Thrashers seasons, there have been a number of outstanding players that have passed through the organization. Names like Ilya Kovalchuk, Marian Hossa, Marc Savard, Peter Bondra and Dany Heatley come to mind. Regardless of how you might feel about some of them personally, or what kind of bad taste they left in your mouth upon their departure, those names represent some very fine hockey talent.
But what do the names above…and possible the others that might come to your mind… have in common? I mean, besides the fact that they represent the Retention Deficit Disorder that this organ-I-zation has suffered from for the past decade.
Yeah, they are all forwards.
If you put your mind to it, I’m quite sure you could come up with 12 forwards who have played for Atlanta that could comprise a theoretical Thrashers All-Time Offensive Team. Some would be considered more “shoe ins” for the honor than others, but I’m certain the debate would be quite entertaining to say the least.
But something that just might prove to be a skosh more difficult might be trying to find six defensemen that could comprise a Thrashers All-Time Defensive Team. I mean, lets face it folks, the term “fine defensive play” and Atlanta Thrashers have rarely, if ever, been used in the same sentence.
Nonetheless, I am going to challenge you do just that. See if you can come up with six players who have spent a significant amount of time with the Thrashers that you would place on your Thrashers All-Time blueline.
Now first of all, I will take off the list of possibilities the name of Chris Chelios. Yes, this Hall of Fame defenseman “finished” his NHL career as a Thrasher. But we’re only talking 7 games here. And even though I enjoyed seeing someone of his talent play in a Thrashers uniform, it’s not like those games made much of a difference…except maybe take seven games worth of NHL experience away from Arturs Kulda.
Would you place on that list, say, someone like Nic Havelid? He played in 303 games in Atlanta between 2005 and 2009 and was a +13 during his time here. He chipped in with 10 goals and 72 assists as well. In my mind he would definitely be on that list.
What about Jaroslav Modry? He only spent one season with the Thrashers back in 2005-06. But in 79 games played he notched 38 overall points, though he did finish a –9. To me, he played a key role in what I still think was the best overall team that the Thrashers have ever iced.
Then there is Pavel Kubina. Like Modry, he spent but one year in Atlanta, but he played well while here. He played in 76 games last year and netted 6 goals, 32 assists with an EVEN +/- rating. I would have loved to have seen this guy return for another season or two, but he instead decided to bolt to Tampa Bay.
Toby Enstrom deserves a nod here too, in my opinion. He has yet to miss a single game in all three seasons played…knocking wood…and his 104 career assists is tops for all Thrashers defensemen. He is a +4 during his 246 games, including a +14 showing two season’s ago.
Maybe Zach Bogosian has done enough in his first two NHL seasons to wind up on your list of top-six Thrashers defensemen all-time? The third pick in the 2008 draft is a powerful force when he is pushing the puck up-ice. And does Garnet Exelby merit consideration, even if for no other reason than the fact he was such a huge fan favorite? He played in 357 games here… scoring 6 goals, 40 assists but was a –20. In 2005-06 he was a +11 during 75 games.
How about a defenseman who spent five seasons in Thrasherville and only once finished on the negative side of the +/- rating? Not too many out there that can say that. In fact, this defenseman was a +11 having played in 273 games in Thrasher blue, including a +13 effort in 2005-06. He also finished with three 20+ point seasons to boot…87 points overall…and was a part of what were arguably the two best defensive squads in the ten seasons played, 2005-06 and 2006-07. Would he get consideration from you?
Well, I just described Andy Sutton.
…dodging cyber bricks hurled from the blogosphere…
Hey, I’m just offering up the possibilities and asking the questions here.