In Part Un, we discussed the Thrashers' depth when it comes to forwards in the 09-10 season. It is looking more and more like Maxim Afinogenov will be in Thrashers blue this season. Personally, that is more exciting to me than one year of Nik Zherdev, and means that forward depth will be just fine.
On then, to the guys who keep the puck out of Atlanta's net. We've all heard plenty about the goaltender merry-go-round that has been happening during preseason. Obviously, Legace only factors in if he measures up as a top two goaltender, otherwise he won't get a contract. Anderson praised Pavelec's play in the Tampa game, but others have reported that his effort in training camp has left a lot do be desired. Moose is still apparently working harder than anyone. Like Dan Snyder in goalie pads. Lehtonen's back in questionable, and D-Mac is still a question mark after being knocked around for five goals with no help in front of him against Nashville. With three NHL caliber goalies in camp (Legace, Moose, and Pavelec) and another recuperating from back surgery, the Thrashers should have to worry about the issues that they faced when Pasi went down, Kari only lasted one period, and half the washed up goalies in North America made brief appearances in Blueland.
So while it's still anyone's guess who will be starting in net on October 3, there's plenty of depth in camp to say that it would take at least three injuries before we really need to worry about keeping the puck out of the net. So what about the folks trying to limit the number of shots our masked men face?
I doubt there's anyone anywhere who doesn't expect to see Zach Bogosian and Toby Enstrom accounting for more ice time than any other skaters on the Atlanta roster. They will make up the top pairing and each one probably has more skill and potential than any two D-men to ever wear a Thrasher uniform. Hainsey and Kubina likewise make up the best second pairing in team history. So that leaves the third pairing; the guys who will probably get 10-15 minutes of ice time per night, mostly just to give the top two pairings time to rest. I had worried about this last pairing until hearing the reports from folks who have been attending practices during training camp.
Boris Valabik is back, and we can hope he's made some forward strides. He wasn't too much of a drag on the team last year, and if he makes reasonable improvements, he'll be a reliable third pairing defenseman. Anssi "Peanut" Salmela showed a lot of promise last season, and the same things I just said about Boris Valabik could be echoed in regards to Nathan Oystrik. The real ray of hope, however, appears to be Mark Popovik. According to the devotees who have been attending training camp, he's come back from the KHL in far better shape than the last time he wore Thrasher blue. He's won accolades from the coaches and wows from the crowds. I no longer have any fears for our blueline if one or two of our defenders goes down to injury.
On another note, several TV channels have been running classics this weekend in tribute to the late Patrick Swayze. I think the Thrashers should consider offering professional tryouts to Derrick Sutton and Dean Youngblood. They look like they have some potential. And wow, the coach's daughter in that movie gets my vote for best looking 80's movie girl ever.
For the Chronicle, I'm Razor Catch Prey.