Who would you put on Thrashers All-Time Defensive Team?

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.

Niclas Havelid, seen here with Slava Kozlov, played in 303 games on the Thrashers blueline (AP-Stanley Leary)

Niclas Havelid, seen here with Slava Kozlov, played in 303 games on the Thrashers blueline (AP Photo/Stanley Leary)

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.

Toby Enstrom has searched high and low for pucks during games. He's played in all 82 games during each of his first three NHL seaosns (AP Photo/The Canadian Press,Jeff McIntosh)

Toby Enstrom and the Thrashers have had to search high and low at times to find wins. But in his three seasons so far, Enstrom has yet to miss a game (AP Photo/The Canadian Press,Jeff McIntosh)

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.

167 comments Add your comment

Mikey

September 1st, 2010
10:14 am

Havelid, Hnidy, DeVries, Bogosian and Kaberle. To round out the 6 man roster, I’d then hold my nose and vote for a pre-concussion Exelby.

Joe Friday

September 1st, 2010
10:17 am

This is the equivalent of trying to pick the prettiest pig, where’s the lipstick?

The biggest indictment of Don Waddell’s utter and complete inability to build a hockey club is the fact that he was a dman in his playing days (might have made the ‘80 USA squad if he hadn’t broken his leg), but he never signed, drafted, traded for, or retained a single top line defenseman. Never. Some 3/4 guys, some 5/6, and a lot of AHL tweeners and Rumun Ndur’s . . . but I’m sure that was the owner’s fault, right Sara?

Tamer-Tremblay
Smehlik-Majesky
Klee-Reirdan

P.U.!

kracker

September 1st, 2010
10:30 am

5. The Versus brand gets killed. (Probably not a bad thing)

http://www.sportsbusinessjournal.com/article/66584

Red Light

September 1st, 2010
10:31 am

Joe Friday has his edge back today. Beware!

How about this draft legacy of d-men picked with selections 1-125 prior to the Bogosian and Valabik selections?

Luke Sellars • Ilya Nikulin • Libor Usturnul • Brian Sipotz • Coburn • Grant Lewis • Scott Lehman • James Sharrow • Lane Manson • Chad Denny. Outside of Coburn, the others have played in a total of three NHL games.

That’s offensive, not defensive!

R. Stroztradamus

September 1st, 2010
10:50 am

Who would you put on Thrashers All-Time Defensive Team?

A player to be named later, much later, like five years from now.

Mr. Willson

September 1st, 2010
10:51 am

Darnit, Bill! All I read was your headline and my first thought was ANDY SUTTON!! He’s a beast and a force to be reckoned with! Then I read your blog and you stole my thunder…thanks alot.

rob

September 1st, 2010
10:55 am

Who is that “future considerations” guy? He played good d huh?

Mr. Willson

September 1st, 2010
10:56 am

Our defense seems like a revolving door, not just in their play, over the years. So, because I can’t think of the 1000 defensemen that have come thru here. I’ll go with Toby and Exelby, at the least.

Rawhide

September 1st, 2010
10:59 am

Darnit, Bill! All I read was your headline and my first thought was ANDY SUTTON!! He’s a beast and a force to be reckoned with! Then I read your blog and you stole my thunder…thanks alot

Mr. Willsonshrugs…sorry, dude.

MashaPlayer7

September 1st, 2010
11:01 am

Can we answer this question next year…my head hurts thinking about this. But, other than our current group, the only other guy I can give honorable mention too is Nic Havelid. X will be known for his body checks, but he never was a force in front of his own net and he was still too slow-of-foot even in his pre-concussion days.

SomaAtl95

September 1st, 2010
11:01 am

You all know I love our team, but the words “Thrashers” and “Defense” go together about as well as the words “Mexican” and “Border Security”. I’m sure you’ve all seen the yellow signs in California on the highways with what looks like a running migrant family… well we’ve needed our own yellow sign that says “Caution” with a puck between the legs of a goalie.
Hopefully all of the changes in the “Thrashers summer of love” will show that a defensive minded offense and actual honest to goodness defense can hold down the large number of SOG’s that we are used to seeing as Thrasher fans… only time will tell…

Joe Friday

September 1st, 2010
11:13 am

“Joe Friday has his edge back today. Beware!”

Damn straight, Skippy. So that begs the question, is this a defensive core that can finally turn the corner on this clubs inability to keep a puck out of our end and net?

Hainsey-Oduya
Bogosian-Enstrom
Sopel-Valabik

Freddy Meyer.

See a pairing there we can trot out to shut down Ovechkin and Co? Bogosian and Enstrom going to reign in Crosby and Malkin? Anyone there that can stop a Staal, any Staal, from bull rushing Mason?

We still don’t have a true top dpair, our best hope is Bogosian turns into a shut down dman that can eat 28 minutes a night, but that might be a bit optimistic for this year as he’s still green and would have to do a 180 after last year.

I think our Achilles heel remains . . .

Joe Friday

September 1st, 2010
11:15 am

Looking at it in the light of day sheds a little insight into why Dudley is thinking about Buf at d

Smoothie

September 1st, 2010
11:16 am

R/L – forgot about Hnidy…underrated and under-appreciated in his time here. I shall remove XLB and put Hnidy on my bottom pairing with Hains. In fact, Hartley probably should have played Shane more in 2007 down the stretch when X and Stevie McAwesome were having there difficulties.

Let’s hope we’ll be listing this six as best all-time D-men in 3 or 4 years:

Bogo / Kulda

Enstrom / Oduya

Hainsey / Zubarev or Postma

Hon Mention: Havelid, Devo

Zoomo

September 1st, 2010
11:16 am

Mostly agree with the nominations. X was good for only a year or so. While not in my top 6, Shane Hnidy had a very good year here. Devries was underatted – solid if unspectacular.

Can I put a vote in for Chris Tamer as “most out of position” D-man in our history?

Smoothie

September 1st, 2010
11:17 am

Joe – don’t sleep on Kulda. He’s for real.

the dude

September 1st, 2010
11:24 am

EX-Thrasher Chris Chelios Retires. What a way to put it. Im sure chelios has such pride in that title.

Joe Friday

September 1st, 2010
11:26 am

Ok, pencil in Kulda for Valabik (please!), still have this:

Hainsey-Oduya
Bogosian-Enstrom
Sopel-Kulda

Valabik

Not re-signing Kubina was a mistake, but if Dudley is looking at this as a build year, I can see not wanting to sign him for too long (did Tampa give him 3?). Coach will be pushing more defensive play from the forwards, and that will help, but no top dpair is going to be our Achilles heel again this year.

Old Time Hockey

September 1st, 2010
11:27 am

Sutton?….SUTTON? Are you people nuts? A guy in the 10th row gave him a head fake and he went for it. What a waste of talent. He is the type of guy that makes me happy that Dudley is looking at hockey IQ as one of the intangibles. All that talent and no head on his shoulders.

kracker

September 1st, 2010
11:29 am

JF, Since you didn’t mention it, I will assume you forgot to factor in what we think will be a better backchecking group of forwards under Ramsay and Torch. Will this be significant or non-significant in the effectiveness of the team’s defense? That remains to be seen but it should be considered.

Spud Webb

September 1st, 2010
11:32 am

Red Light, that is what I call just good drafting. We know how to pick some D men!!!!!!!!! I can scout for the Thrashers, please, I’d love that job and I GUARANTEE I can have us pick 2 Dmen in 10 years that would make/play in the NHL!!!!
Tamer!! I loved that guy, nicest guy on the team.

R. Stroz

September 1st, 2010
11:33 am

So, to sum up, the Thrasher defense is akin to Mexican border security, they stop a few but most enter and call it their new home.

kracker

September 1st, 2010
11:33 am

JF, sorry, I see you did mention defensive forward play as I was typing.

Spud Webb

September 1st, 2010
11:35 am

We’re getting close to the greatest sports month of the year, October…College and pro football, Baseball, & hockey!!!! WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO
Syracuse RULES. ahahhahhaa

Joe Friday

September 1st, 2010
11:40 am

“So, to sum up, the Thrasher defense is akin to Mexican border security, they stop a few but most enter and call it their new home.”

Just wait till Bettman files a lawsuit against Dudley to prevent us from playing Chris Pronger after Dudley makes the trade for him to finally get the job done for us . . .

SomaAtl95

September 1st, 2010
11:46 am

Thanks for summing up my analogy Stroz, when it comes to defense of our crease, we’ve been about as open as the border between us and our neighbors to the south -

Thrasher Shawn

September 1st, 2010
11:50 am

No love for Frankie(Frantisek) Kaberle?

World Be Free

September 1st, 2010
11:52 am

Buff on D? Dudley may beloeve that we do not have enough size on defense. This is partially because we let Kubina go back “home”, which I was never in favor of, others too. There’s nobody on our current defense that is capable to clearing the front of the net. “Net-clearers” require about 220# to do the job on a regular basis.

That’s why Duds is looking at Buff on D

rob

September 1st, 2010
11:56 am

Trade for Pronger. LMAO Seriously, I would have to stop watching the Thrashers I think. NEVER liked him…and now that he wears orange it is even worse. If he could play hard WITHOUT being a cheapshot, but then he wouldn’t be Pronger and I wouldn’t greatly dislike him.

you're kidding right?

September 1st, 2010
11:59 am

Let’s wait until the Thrashers win a few Cups before we start trying to name “All-Time” greats here…talk about putting the cart before the horse..jeeeeez

Alan R.

September 1st, 2010
12:06 pm

I’ve sat here and thought about this long and hard.

I’ve decided we should return to the last post. This one doesn’t make any sense at all. It’s as if we’re supposed to stick our hands into giant piles of crap in an effort to pull out the prettiest looking pieces.

No thanks. Let’s give it a few more years.

Smoothie

September 1st, 2010
12:12 pm

Keith and Seabrook don’t exactly fit the prototype some of you think a blueline should have for the sake of clearing guys out. Effective use of the stick, boxing out correctly and using the leverage you have can be just as effective. Bogo, Kulda, Hainsey (if Ramsay bitch-slaps him to be more physical), Sopel and Valabik have the potential and / or ability to do this. Hjalmarsson ain’t exactly Pronger either. We just need guys to be in the right positions more often. It will come.

Hokey P. Clisters

September 1st, 2010
12:26 pm

Mr. Rawhides, this appears to be a trick question. However I will attempt to formulate a blueline special:

Kubina,Enstrom,Havelid,Devries,Achilles,and Heel.

TableHockey

September 1st, 2010
12:41 pm

Thanks for the depressing blog Rawhide. I have a Pothier numbered rookie jersey card and a numbered rookie Weaver card. Always nice to have a reminder of how utterly valueless these cards are.

All time D for me would be:

Havlid – Devries
Enstrom – Kubina
(insert any other 2 at this point)

Bogosian will fit on this list hopefully as soon as the end of next season. Possibly Oduya as well. I have high hopes…

Rawhide

September 1st, 2010
12:51 pm

Kubina,Enstrom,Havelid,Devries,Achilles,and Heel.

Hockey P. Clisters – HA! :lol: That’s brilliant!

See folks…as is the case with the vast majority of you…Mr. Clisters here “gets it” when it comes to the meaning of the blog. It’s a tough assignment because of the “quality” of defensemen that have been iced by this team in it’s first decade of play. It has indeed been our Achilles heel.

Reading and comprehending…gotta be able to do both.

Smoothie

September 1st, 2010
12:53 pm

Rawhide – in that case, how about Ole! and Porous as a bottom pairing?

World Be Free

September 1st, 2010
12:54 pm

Just shows how bad our defense has been the past 10 years. You can’t win when you’re shopping for everybody’s 6th defenseman.

Mikey

September 1st, 2010
1:02 pm

Smoothie: Or for that matter, how about Ben Beaten and I.M. Toast

Rawhide

September 1st, 2010
1:05 pm

Per Craig Custance tweet, “Thrashers trade defenseman Grant Lewis to Nashville in return for forward Ian McKenzie”

TableHockey

September 1st, 2010
1:06 pm

Just in Thrashers trade defenseman Grant Lewis to Nashville in return for forward Ian McKenzie per Craig Custance

TableHockey

September 1st, 2010
1:06 pm

R. Stroz

September 1st, 2010
1:08 pm

I thought today was September 1st, not April 1st.

Rawhide

September 1st, 2010
1:14 pm

Ian McKenzie: 23 years old undrafted RW. 6-4, 222 pounds.

Last two years has split time between Cincinnati Cyclones of the ECHL and Milwaukee Admirals of AHL.

In 64 games in the ECHL he has 15 goals and 5 assists. In 50 at the AHL level has 4 goals and an assist. Between the two, he has 149 PIM.

Talent analysis from HockeysFuture.com…

“Checker. McKenzie is neither agile nor possesses great hockey sense…unlikely to make it out of the minors”.

Everyone say it with me…”The Cup is ours”.

Lord Stanley

September 1st, 2010
1:14 pm

whats the low down on Mckenzie

Lord Stanley

September 1st, 2010
1:16 pm

Hockeyfutures makes this sound like a dud of a trade.

TableHockey

September 1st, 2010
1:16 pm

I have Grant Lewis rookie card too…

R. Stroz

September 1st, 2010
1:19 pm

Now, I’m convinced today is April 1st.

World Be Free

September 1st, 2010
1:24 pm

Barely worth the recognition

rob

September 1st, 2010
1:25 pm

Rawhide,
Can I get that brick back? I am going to need it after all because ever since that last blog I can’t get Barry Manilow outta my head. Seriously. BARRY FREAKIN MANILOW! And now I am assaulted with the odoriferous past in yet another way as our D is brought up. I like the looks of the future……can we watch that coming at us instead of looking back at the bumbling train wreck that was the DumWad as our GM Atlanta Thrashers?

Mr. Willson

September 1st, 2010
1:29 pm

If this trade doesn’t bump the Ilya contract status from the headlines, nothing will.