Why not qualify Thorburn? Under the CBA they would have been required to offer him a raise--so the Thrashers are either offering him a deal with a pay cut or a pay freeze. He's only making $510,000 and the NHL minimum was $475,000 if I recall correctly. It seems strange that they would nickle-and-dime Thorburn over such a small amount of money (in the NHL world at least!).
My hunch is that Thorburn was eligible for arbitration if they Thrashers game him gave him a qualifying offer. If I'm correct in that assumption, then the Thrashers may have been worried that an independent arbiter would look at Thorburn's stats and give him a raise they didn't feel he deserved. So Atlanta has essentially offered him the choice of becoming an UFA or re-signing for the amount they prefer.
I like Chris Thorburn as a person, but I suspect there will be few teams clamoring for his services on the UFA market. He's a 4th line guy who never kills penalty, isn't a fighter, isn't especially big or fast. In other words, he is fairly replaceable. In fact, I'm working on a post for free agency and if the Thrashers sign a top six guy and Evander Kane makes the team out of NHL Camp in the fall, it seems to me that Thorburn or Boulton might be taking turns as the healthy scratch each night. And if a Spencer Machacek were to make a strong push for a NHL job, it is probably Chris Thorburn's roster spot that is at stake.
The other qualifying offers were essentially slam dunk decisions. If you don't make a QO to your Restricted Free Agents they become Unrestricted Free Agents. By making the QO you retain the right to match any offer they might receive from another NHL franchise. In my opinion extending a QO was automatic for Kari Lehtonen, Colb Armstrong, Boris Valabik, Grant Lewis. I wish they had given Jim Slater the Thorburn treatment and offered him a pay freeze, with an automatic 10% raise he'll be back up to $825,000. Personally I don't think paying any 4th line player nearly $1 million is a good idea when your 4th line center doesn't score or is not an effective PKer.
I'd head some speculation that Jordan LaVallee might not get an offer, but he's a solid depth player that could be called up in the case of injuries. The one I don't get is Scott Lehman who simply was a terrible hockey player in the ECHL and looked bad in the AHL as well. He was an emergency call up for one game at defense last season (Lewis and Kulda were unavailable) and set a new record for fewest minutes played in a game for the Thrashers. I don't even see another NHL cup of coffee in this guy's future with Lewis and Kulda down in Chicago--maybe the Wolves asked the Thrashers to keep him around. Dan Turple was allowed to walk away and it was the right decision--he's a large goalie--that's about the best thing I can say about him.