The Thrashers 2009-2010 campaign winds to a close today. The Penguins come into the game as heavy favorites, but the Thrashers have a habit of winning the meaningless final home game and hurting their draft position each spring.
Coming into this season the Thrashers increased payroll to significantly. According to www.capgeek.com the Thrashers will end up with a $52.0 million cap hit for the season, this represents a jump from the $45.4 hit the season before.
How much better are the Thrashers after spending an addition $6.5 million? One year ago they finished with 76 points and by this evening they will have either 81, 82 or 83 points. Let's say they get one point for an Overtime Loss. That would be a six point gain at the cost of $6 million in additional salary. That is a terrible return on investment. At that rate the Thrashers could go from $52 cap hit to a $59 cap max and only gain 7 more points to reach 89 points (which would normally be shy of the playoffs, but this year would just barely get them in).
One year ago the Thrashers finished 27th overall (and had the 4th overall draft pick). Right now the Thrashers are 23rd in the NHL and would pick 8th. A Thrashers loss and a Carolina win and Atlanta could drop down to 24th and have the 7th overall draft position (pending the small chance of moving up or down in the draft lottery on Tuesday).
These are the cold hard facts. After spending nearly $7 million more on the team the Thrashers are again out of the playoffs, only 5-7 points better than last year and have moved up ONLY four spots in the standings (from 27th a year ago to 23rd). The East was very weak this year--which obscures the fact that the Thrashers made only baby steps towards contending. A lot of fans are pretty disappointed with this season--they should be--it was a big missed opportunity.