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Roots of the Roster: Where the Thrashers Talent Came from

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Every NHL franchise has three ways to build a roster: draft, trade and signing free agents. Lately, the Thrashers have traded away high former 1st round picks Kovalchuk and Lehtonen. These trades have added players to the NHL roster and stock of prospects. I thought it would be interesting to see how each draft year has translated into the current NHL roster and the talent in the farm system.

So in the table below I have a number of columns. In the "Drafted" column we can see which current Thrashers were picked by the team in which year. In the "Trade" column we can see which current Thrashers were acquired via a trade. Each trade acquisition is listed in the row belong to the pick or player they were exchanged for. For example Exelby was drafted in 1999 and was dealt for Kubina, so Kubina is listed on the 1999 row.

In the next two columns we have NHL players acquired via "Waivers" or "Free Agency" and they are arranged according to the year acquired. Finally, we have the top "Prospects" listed in the year they were drafted or if they were received in a trade (noted by the "=>" symbol), and the pick or player they were traded for.

Year Drafted Trade Waivers Free Agency Prospects 
1999 Exelby=>Kubina =>Stapleton
2000 Heatley=>Armstrong =>O,Dell, Leveille
2001 Kovalchuk=>Bergfors, Oduya =>Cormier, 1st
2002 1st Slater =>Vishnevskiy
2003 8th Enstrom 3rd =>Kozlov Sterling
2004 1st Pavelec Lewis
2005 2nd Pavelec Boulton Kulda
2006 1st Little Hedberg Holzapfel, Enlund, Kangas
2007 3rd =>Thorburn White Machacek, Postma, Albert
2008 1st Bogosian Peverley Hainsey, Reasoner Saponari, Redmond, Carrozzi
2009 1st E. Kane Schubert Antropov, Afinogenov Morin, Klingberg, Koper


Trades: Slava Kozlov was acquired for a 3rd rounder and a swap of 2nd rounders--that trade was an incredible win for the franchise. Most people point to the Savard deal as Waddell's best trade evar, but that Kozlov deal should be ranked right behind it. The Exelby for Kubina trade is a big win for Atlanta if Kubina sticks around and extends his contract. Most of the value from the Heatley and Lehtonen picks has been converted into prospects, not roster players, time will tell how valuable those prospects are.

Free Agents: The Thrashers fare poorly with their free agent signings in the 2005-2007 period, but the last two summers have they have done much better. The last few waiver wire pick-ups have been beneficial to the franchise as well.

Prospects: The Kovalchuk, Heatley and Lehtonen picks have significantly increased the prospect base of the Thrashers franchise. My guess is that if you look at most NHL franchises, they would not have so many prospects whose origin stretches back to the 1999-2002 period.