The Thrashers main crest is pretty good but their shoulder/alternate logo is a travesty to sports. This one to the right, the bird head part of it appears on the shoulders of the current Atlanta third (see below) and is at least not as ugly as the normal shoulder patch. Seen here completing the 'A', this looks pretty sharp. It's no Atlanta Flames but...
1st pick last year: Evander Kane (Atlanta, NHL) - Evander Kane could have returned to Vancouver and dominated the WHL and the World Junior Tournament. But a 48 goal season with the Giants in 2009 tells you he was close to doing that already. While he wasn’t one of the top rookies across the league, Kane put up respectable numbers with 12 goals and 14 assists in 66 games with a poor Thrashers club. The trading of Ilya Kovalchuk gives Kane a bigger role in the offence next year.
The Good: Zach Bogosian (3rd overall, 2008) - After a 47-game rookie season, Bogosian missed just one game in his second season while scoring 10 times. That’s just one off his best season with the Peterborough Petes of the OHL. He now has 19 goals in 2 seasons with Atlanta.
The Bad: Alex Bourret (16th overall, 2005) - Bourret’s final season in the QMJHL saw him light the lamp 44 times and set up 70 more as a 19 year old. But he never scored more then 16 goals in a season as a pro, with his best year coming as an AHL rookie. He was traded, then signed with the Coyotes but has since been released and split this year between the LNAH in Quebec, the ECHL and the Czech league.
The Unknown: Angelo Esposito (20th overall, 2007) - Originally drafted by Pittsburgh, Esposito was part of the package Atlanta received for Marian Hossa. The last 2 years have been cut short by injuries, with only 12 games on the stat sheet this year. Esposito was always well over a point-per-game guy in the QMJHL but needs a little luck to get on track in Atlanta.
Coming Down the Pipe: Atlanta is patiently waiting for 2009 second round pick Jeremy Morin who torched OHL goalies with 47 goals this year. The strong left winger should probably stay in junior next year, especially as Kitchener will be one of the better teams in the OHL. After 43 goals in two AHL seasons, Spencer Machacek might be ready for prime time, while Atlanta is hoping 2008 first rounder Daulton Leveille finds his scoring touch at Michigan State. After scoring 9 times in his freshman season, he dropped to 6 last year, but did more then double his assist totals.
Draft Trends: For a team that’s only made the playoffs once, Atlanta has only drafted in the top 5, five times since 2000. Twice they’ve had the first overall pick and twice they’ve picked second. Atlanta has only drafted one player from the QMJHL in the last 4 years.
2010 Prediction 24th Overall:
Dean Millard: Stanislav Galiev (Saint John, QMJHL) - Galiev didn’t get the hype that Kirill Kabanov received this year, but Saint John got way more bang for their buck than Moncton did. Galiev carries the puck like it’s taped to his stick and while he might not ever be confused with a goal scorer he’s a terrific set up man. He played in the USHL before joining Saint John and was snubbed by Russia at the World Junior Championship. He’s also very responsible in his own end and works very hard. Galiev isn’t as flashy or talented as Atlanta’s last Russian but he’ll be a slick pro, especially once he gets a little stronger.
Guy Flaming: Jaden Schwartz (Tri-City, USHL) - Getting the slightly undersized, USHL scoring champ at this point in the draft could be a steal. The still building Thrashers have needs in all areas but skill like this would be hard to pass up and Atlanta could play a role in whether Schwartz heads to Colorado College or to the WHL's Tri-City Americans next season.