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New Top 20 Prospects at HF

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We are still in the really slow news period before camps open, but we have some new Thrashers related content to discuss today. Hockey's Future writer Holly Gunning has posted a new Top 20 Prospects. The list looks pretty accurate to me--I might move a couple of guys up or down a spot on that list--but overall it correct. Arturs Kulda is one guy who could be ranked higher based upon his performance last season.

Maybe it is just wishful thinking on my part, but I can actually imagine the entire top 7 wearing a Thrashers jersey on a regular basis without too much "wish casting" (as opposed to "forecasting" which considers potential negative outcomes). After the top 7, I can think of reasons why the rest might not stick in the big league. The two guys at #8 and #9 (Esposito and Leveille) are both are high risk/high reward sort of players who might flame out.

Perhaps the most revealing part of the whole article is towards the end. In the section about Jordan LaVallee you read the quote from Wolves/Thrashers Skating Coach Kenny McCudden very carefully. In a very nice way McCudden exposes several holes in Jordan's game. I was hopeful LaVallee might become a 4th liner on the Thrashers out of camp, but after reading this it sounds like he needs another year in Chicago to iron out some consistency issues. The good news for him is that he is just 22 and checking line guys often don't reach the NHL until they are 24/25 years old, so he has some time left.

The same can not be said for prospect Nathan Oystrick who turns 26 and had a brutal NHL camp last fall. He's not young anymore and appeared to be carrying some extra pounds last fall. This is professional hockey not beer league hockey!

I'll never understand why some prospects don't bite the bullet and hire a professional trainer in the off-season. For example, I still believe that Norm Maracle had NHL talent--but he simply lacked the will power to get in shape over the summer. It seems to me that if you're short on will power, you should hire someone to kick your butt in gym all summer. Think about it prospects--if you make the NHL you'll be making $500,000 a year at a minimum! Spend the money in the off season on a trainer and you could have a huge payoff if you make the big leagues. (OK rant over.)

I've mentioned before that the Thrashers seem to have done better in the 2005, 2006 and 2007 drafts and those players are now peculating up through the system.

Lastly, I want to say that Zach Bogosian could turn out to be an amazing NHL player. Regular readers know I usually try and keep expectations in check but I'm almost giddy when I think about this kid's potential. He was young for his draft year and yet he was an OHL star as a 17 year old playing against mostly older guys. He is physically ready to step into the NHL at 18--this is extremely rare in NHL history. (There are many star defensemen who couldn't make the NHL until they were 20 or 21 years old). He has both a physical side and the ability to handle the puck and contribute to the offense. Some have compared his style to Ray Bourque or Chris Pronger. He may not put up as much offense as Bourque or have the reach Pronger, but that still leaves a tremendous defensive player. It is still VERY early, but it is possible that the Thrashers have a landed the franchise defenseman they always lacked as a result of their poor 2007-08 regular season. If the team can re-sign Ilya next summer the Kovalchuk-Bogosian-Pavelec/Lehtonen combo might be the core of an eventual Stanley Cup contending team (and they're all under 26 right now).