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


September 1st, 2010
8:22 pm

Eric Perrin is a camp tryout for Tampa Bay… per Twitter


September 1st, 2010
8:41 pm

Um…my choice is D, none of the above.

Joe Friday

September 1st, 2010
10:09 pm

“What’s that quaint saying again … something about you get what you pay for?”

Hey, at least you’re consistent. Come on now, you don’t really believe that it’s the Spirit’s, Turner’s, etc. fault that Don drafted and signed the guys he did, do ya? It doesn’t cost anything to draft anyone, unless you want to believe they told him to draft bad players so they wouldn’t have to pay them much? No, this is all on Waddell, a bad GM is a bad GM (even when given piles of cash like the Blue Skirts pre cap era)


September 1st, 2010
10:52 pm

My six: Pavel Kubina, Shane Hnidy, Nic Havelid, Frantisek Kaberle, Toby Enstrom, and Zach Bogosian. Truthfully, I thought about Sutton, but resisted the urge. And I thought about Zhitnik, immediately after the trade. I thought about how Steve McCarthy was a nice 2006 trade deadline pickup, scoring 7 goals, but then minuses just stuck to the guy in the coming years. I thought about DeVries. Meh. Truthfully, I am much more in league with Joe Friday in thinking that it’s easier to compile the WORST SIX than the best six. I can tell you this. The best is yet to come. Who knows if Braydon Coburn would have ever developed into anything here. Same with Brian Pothier. Who knows what might have come from retaining Petr Buzek and Steve Staios.


September 1st, 2010
11:01 pm

Gosh, I remember when Grant Lewis was regarded as one of our more promising farm team projects. Oh well. Then again, we didn’t waste the 8th overall pick on him, to land Chad Denny. Who? Exactly.


September 1st, 2010
11:06 pm

disagree grossman have nothing to do with kovy problem, loi does, it’s nj trying to lie to make contract easeer on salary cap, nothing been wrong on thrashers proposal 102 mil 11 years, and been approved by nhl had kovy not rejected. again it’s no grossman but loi to blame. grossman working for his client, everybody in hockey world agree that kovy money should be close to lecavalier or malkin money, not to slater or bolton money, lenght of contract loi wanted to surcumvent salary cap end of story.


September 1st, 2010
11:37 pm

I don’t know what Montreal will do now. I suppose, they COULD actually elect to stay with Price and Auld. But uhh, they chummed up the waters with their first CF appearance since 1993 this past season. Surely, Montreal’s media will ask the question to their GM, “What do you intend to do to ensure that the Canadiens return to the CF again this year, and hopefully reach the Finals?” Then the GM answers, “Well, truthfully, we knew the fastest way back to the CF, and potentially the Stanley Cup, was to rid ourselves of the cancer that was Jaroslav Halak.”

I would personally love to witness such an exchange.

Anywho, the Sharks got swept in the CF last year, right? I can’t remember anymore. In any event, they lost. Their GM can answer the question, “How do you plan to fill the void left by your team’s inability to re-sign Evgeni Nabakov?” by answering thusly, “We have landed a tandem of Niittymaki, playoff experience with Philadelphia, and Anttii Niemi, a Stanley Cup-winner last season.” Doesn’t sound nearly as ridiculous as the hypothetical Montreal press conference.

Sidebar, it’s September already … and one of the goalies possessing some of the finer numbers from the 2009-10 season remains un-signed, to the best of my knowledge. I am refering to Jose Theodore. Truthfully, I have absolutely no idea what his plans were or are. Maybe he thought of Chicago, but they signed Turco. Maybe he thought of Washington, but they’re committed to two other goalies. I haven’t looked at Tampa Bay’s cap, but since they’ve been so active, imagine if they actually ADEQUATELY addressed their goaltending situation. Right now, it’s Mike Smith and Dan Ellis, right? What if the Bolts landed Theodore, shipping one of those other two out of town? What’s Theodore going to cost? We talked about this before. I lost track of the numbers. Who still a needs a starting goalie, this late in the offseason? Did Chris Osgood retire?, or is he still going to be the backup to Jimmy Howard in Detroit?


September 1st, 2010
11:38 pm

Who’s the other goalie in Phoenix, besides Byrzgalov? What’s their cap situation? And could they afford Jose Theodore?

World Be Free

September 2nd, 2010
6:03 am

Alex, I think everyone is throwing Kovalchuk, Lou and Grossman in the same outhouse right now. All three of them are guilty to trying to circumvent the cap. Kovy and Grossman, I expected they would do this; Lou I did not expect to be such a devient. Don’t know what 48 hours will do to make this right, I just hope this courtship dance does not come back to haunt the league during the next collective bargainining negotiation. And the heck with looking at the contracts that were submitted months ago, like Hossa’s and Savard’s. Let those go.

Red Light

September 2nd, 2010
7:02 am

Here’s the scoop from Larry Brooks of the NY Post. Very interesting indeed!


The NHL has given the NHLPA an ultimatum regarding the contested front-loaded contract of not only the Devils’ Ilya Kovalchuk, but Vanocuver’s Roberto Luongo and Chicago’s Marian Hossa, as well, The Post has learned.

A well placed source reports that the league has informed the Players’ Assn. that the league will grandfather the recently submitted Kovalchuk 15-year, $100M contract, Luongo’s 12-year, $64M deal that is entering its second season and Hossa’s 12-year, $63.3M deal that also is entering its second season into the CBA under the following conditions…


September 2nd, 2010
7:10 am

According to a story out of the NY Post, the League is threatening to void the Luongo and Hossa contracts and reject Kovy’s deal if the NHLPA doesn’t agree to some concessions about how the cap hits are calculated and applied. The extension was apparently agreed to so that the NHL and NHLPA could essentially rework this rule. The plus side to this could be, if they can come to an agreement on this now, it’s one less issue to be dealt with when the new CBA talks really get under way.

What I find interesting is that this has turned into a fight between the NHL honchos and the NHLPA. Certainly the players have a stake in this fight but it’s the GMs (and owners) who are responsible for these contracts. That would be the more appropriate fight IMO.

It’s also interesting which contracts they’ve chosen to pick fights over. Savard, Pronger, Luongo, and Hossa – as opposed to the Detroit contracts for example. Now the Detroit contracts weren’t as long and the difference between $$ paid and cap hit aren’t quite so far apart over much of the contracts. However, they were also handed out to homegrown talent. Which makes me wonder, if we’d tried to offer some kind of creatively structured contract to Kovy (not that we need to cap maneuvering but for the sake of the argument…) would the League still be honking so much since it would have been a situation of keeping Kovy a Thrasher for life.

JF we’ve never seen eye to eye on this and never will. Cost control happens in places other than the roster, even though that’s the figures we see publicly and discuss the most. We went an entire season without a real head coach because AS was still on the hook for Hartley’s salary and didn’t want to spend the $$ on another one. I’d be more than willing to bet that if the profit and loss statements for every NHL club were made available to the public, the Thrashers would lag behind not only on spending for player payroll but also for spending in other areas like marketing or, say, scouting. The best talent always comes at a price, whether it’s on the ice or off of it. How much do you think Detroit, New Jersey, or San Jose spend on scouting and office staff?

I have never said Waddell was perfect or one of the top GMs in the League or entirely blameless. However comparison amongst GMs, to be an honest and fair representation, has to consider the individual situations within which they have to work. And the situation here has certainly been less than ideal on many levels.


September 2nd, 2010
7:28 am

Below is the link to the article Sara mentioned.


I’d thought about an age limit earlier (age 40 in this case) but figured it was too ripe age discrimination litigation. As I read Brooks article it would appear that the NHL may have backed the PA and Fehr into a bit of a corner. (This has all the makings of a modern day 1st Kings, chapter 3 story.)

When it comes to the top D-men in Blueland,…the picking is pretty slim. I guess it is relative in that the “best” Thrasher D-man doesn’t necessarily mean a good NHL D-Man. As far as the Thrashers drafting good D-men. D-Men supposedly take longer to develop,..and we have such a dismal record when it comes to developing young players. I haven’t looked at the #s closely but would guess that for every player who came through our farm system 4, 5, or even 6, were attained through FA or trades. It might even be Blueland has had more draft picks that have made the team directly, than have come through our “development” system.

R. Stroz

September 2nd, 2010
7:45 am

Isn’t Waddell one of the best defensemen in Thrasher history?

He’s been “creatively” defending his decisions for ten years.

Old Time Hockey

September 2nd, 2010
8:09 am

Actually, I believe that DW was in the running for a defense spot on the 1980 Miracle on ice team, but suffered a leg injury late in camp.

HP Drifter

September 2nd, 2010
9:11 am

R. Stroz >> now that is a GREAT comment !!!! More, please more. . .

Joe Friday

September 2nd, 2010
9:41 am

“However comparison amongst GMs, to be an honest and fair representation, has to consider the individual situations within which they have to work. And the situation here has certainly been less than ideal on many levels.”

Sara, I admire sticking to ones guns, but you’re reminding me of the female equivalent of the Fonz here . . .I was wr, wr, wr, wr, I wasn’t right.

You truly think that Waddell would have been a good GM on, say, Detroit, where he had strong ownership willing to spend? You really want to say that?


September 2nd, 2010
5:36 pm

David Harlock
Roman N’Dur
Darryl Shannon
Todd Reirden
Jere Slegr
Richard Smehlik
Alexei Zhitnik