Saturday, August 26, 2006


Atlanta Thrashers Salaries as at 08/26/06

Unlike Greg, I don't have all that much love for the Atlanta Thrashees, terrible uniforms and all.

So, this allows me an outsider's perspective on my blogmate's pet team.

From information gathered, here is the projected lineup and salary structed for the Thrashers as of today.

Take away about $1mil for demotions and allow a bit for whatever Lehtonen will get, and the Thrashers look to be spending at least $40mil on a team that has a small chance of making the playoffs.

Last season, we saw an offensive powerhouse of a team fail to make the playoffs, and now they lost Marc Savard to the Bruins and Peter Bondra to (supposed) retirement. Funny how they are still paying for Bondra even though he's now babysitting his kids.

One big IF is Kari Lehtonen. IF the Thrashers can get a full year out of Kari without his groin popping like a wine cork, they ought to win a few more games by having a real NHL goaltending rather than ECHL-grade chopmeat like they had last year for most of the season. If Kari shall falter, Brathwaite and Hedberg aren't going to help much. They are good backups, but not the goalies who can carry such a team.

On D, we can see how much of an upgrade the embattled Vital Fluids Vishnevski really is. He instantly becomes the top defensive stopper on this club (Sorry, but deVries is done like 25-cent meatloaf).

That defense is scary...for the Thrashees. $2.7mil for Havelid? $1.9mil for Andy Sutton? What the hell?!?!11111 Still, add in the potential of Braydon Coburn and this group figures to be a bit tighter than last year's leaky boat. I hope Steve McCarthy's fine play carries over and he can prove his talent once and for all.

Up front, the Thrashers seem to resemble so many clubs with a very expensive top-heavy roster and a lot of crap on the bottom two lines. There isn't a lot of defensive ability up front save for the Steroid-monkey defector and Niko Kapanen. Rucchin is really showing his age, but he's better defensively than Marc Savard could hope to dream of (yet the offensive dropoff probably offsets this far more).

In the end, I see a team that is still going to give up far too many goals to make the playoffs.

Coburn's under contract, at $746,100.

I'm hopeful that between the Vishnevski (and hopefully, by the end of the year, I'll stop typing "Visnovsky") pickup and Coburn presumably getting a shot, they'll unload Sutton. I realize that dealing an overpaid, slow, clumsy defenseman is a tough haul in the new NHL, but thankfully, Bobby Clarke is still a GM.
You've also got to think that Waddell will send one or two of the forwards down to Chicago (they aren't all one-way deals) and they won't carry 8 defensemen. That's probably another $1-1.5 million saved, though that will go straight to Lehtonen's contract.

I think the defense has gotten better through a combination of more experience playing under HArtley and with each other, the subtraction of Modry and the addition of Vishnevski. Even if Kari stinks it up Brathwaite and Hedberg are still an improvement over Dunham, Garnett Shields and Berkhoel, and the Thrashers almost got in with that crew.

Up front there's less scoring (Savard will be missed, Bondra not so much) but Kovy is now the only forward on the team that's a defensive liability. Everyone else is at least neutral if not defensively responsible. If Rucchin can get half of Savards points and Holik can do what he did in March and April for 6 months instead of two they should be okay.

Keep in mind that Luongo is gone from Florida and Tampa hasn't improved at all and there's still not that much competition in the division for all of those divisional points. If the schedule was blanced across the conference then maybe Atlanta's chances would be slim, but it's not and they're in a division full of teams that are building or rebuilding. There are plenty of points up for grabs.
Peter Bondra isn't retired, dilhole. First game of the season he will play on a line with Sundin, and Steen.
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