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Future Thrashers?

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Tonight the Thrashers face off against the Tampa Bay Lightning in a dire must-win-in-regulation game. A loss, or even a tie, ends any last bit of hope for the playoffs. In the meantime, I've been looking at the future...

Over the weekend I checked up on Thrasher prospects in the ECHL. The Gwinnett Gladiators were playing their final home game before their playoffs begin. The Gladiators have the best record in the East and were going for their 50th win.

Thrasher prospect and ECHL rookie Guillaume Desbiens finishes EVERY check. If you have the puck, he will hit you if he is anywhere in the neighborhood. Usually, when you play a meaningless late season game, the main objective of the players is to finish the game healthy so you're ready to go for the playoffs. Apparently Desbiens didn't get the memo. He crushed everyone, every time a chance presented itself. I talked to people who watch the Gladiators on a regular basis and it seems that Desbiens genuinely loves to hit and plays like this all the time.

This is one player that really has surprised me so far. When I first saw him skate at the Thrashers prospect camp he looked terribly out of shape to be honest. I still think he could improve his cardio fitness since he looks winded at the end of shifts at times.
When he was drafted, I looked at his 233 PIM in the Quebec Major Junior League and worried he was nothing but a goon. In the NEW NHL goons that can't skate are without a role. But Desbiens has a decent set of hands.

He scored 27 goals in 56 games his last year in juniors and has continued that pace in the ECHL with 33 goals in 65 games. His goal scoring has increased steadily which suggests to me that he is still developing. I don't see him as much of a goal scorer at the NHL level, but he could end up as a valuable checking line winger with a decent set of hands. (As he moves up the ladder he will stop receiving time on the power play and even strength minutes will be harder to come by as well.)

Desbiens Goals Per Game (and Age)
QMJHL--.21--17 (age)

The other thing that surprised me is just how much of disparity there is between the way penalties are called in the NHL and ECHL now. I saw about 4 or 5 plays that would have been whistled as interference or obstruction in today's NHL that were let go.