|ESPN.com: NHL Preview 2005||[Print without images]|
Offense: Erstwhile superstar Ilya Kovalchuk, who tied for the league lead in goals in 2003-04 with 41, is twiddling his thumbs in Russia, waiting for a new contract. Most observers believe Kovalchuk, a restricted free agent, will come to terms, although his representatives have indicated he's perfectly content to play out the season in the Russian elite league.
Even without Kovalchuk, the Thrashers will be loaded for bear. Waddell signed veteran forward Scott Mellanby for character and brought in two-time Cup-winning center Bobby Holik from New York. When troubled team star Dany Heatley asked for a trade, Waddell deftly swapped Heatley and his baggage for established scorer Marian Hossa, who has averaged 38 goals the last four seasons. Veteran defenseman Greg de Vries, who won a Cup with coach Bob Hartley in Colorado in 2001, was also part of the deal. Waddell also inked veteran goal-scorer Peter Bondra, an addition that will give the team two potent scoring lines.
Defense: Although it remains to be seen how much better the revamped defense is, it has to be significantly better than the last crew, which gave up 243 goals in 2003-04, 25th in the NHL. The Thrashers have been at or near the bottom in goals allowed since their arrival in the league. Waddell added some depth on defense by signing Jaroslav Modry away from Los Angeles and acquiring Niclas Havelid from Anaheim.
Goaltending: Top prospect Kari Lehtonen, a young man expected to lead this team to its first playoff berth in his first season as an NHL starter, has been nursing a groin injury through most of training camp. The injury prompted demanding coach Hartley to question Lehtonen's dedication to training. If Lehtonen can't carry the workload Hartley would like, Mike Dunham is more than adequate as a backup and certainly has much to prove after a disastrous turn with the Rangers (which player traded to the Rangers doesn't end up having a disastrous turn there?).p>
Search: Atlanta Thrashers
|Comings & Goings|
RW Marian Hossa; D Jaroslav Modry; D Niclas Havelid; RW Scott Mellanby; D Shane Hnidy; C Bobby Holik; LW Eric Boulton; LW Ramzi Abid; D Greg de Vries; G Mike Dunham; RW Peter Bondra.
RW Shawn McEachern; C Randy Robitaille; D Frantisek Kaberle; RW Dany Heatley; D Daniel Tjarnqvist; D Ivan Majesky; C Ben Simon; G Byron Dafoe; RW Bill Lindsay; D Chris Tamer; D Yannick Tremblay.
|When we last saw them|
Kovalchuk did it all in 2003-04, leading the team with 41 goals (tied for league lead) and 46 assists.
Nurminen struggled, but it wasn't all his fault. He posted a 25-30-7 record in 2003-04.
“You have to think out
there because as soon as you get your stick up or get your arm out, you're going to be sitting in the [penalty] box.”
— Bob Hartley on the NHL's new rules