Yes, the Thrashers have been eliminated from contention for the 2010 playoffs. Finally. It is depressing to no longer have hope for this year, but as we have mentioned before, our stable of young prospects is very promising.
In an attempt to give us all something to look forward to, I thought I'd take a quick look at our potential roster for two years down the road.
Of course there's no way to know how accurate this will really be. Players don't develop the way you hope, prospects get trades, etc. But if minor league/junior coaches do their job well and we hang on to our young'uns, the 2011-2012 Thrashers look dangerous.
Kane, Antropov, Little, Klinberg, Morin, Peverly, Cormier, Bergfors, Machacek, O'Dell, Slater.
That's a lot of young firepower with veteran leadership on top with Antro and in the energy line with Slates (I'm assuming we re-sign Jimmy to a long term deal).
Bogosian, Enstrom, Vishnevskiy, Kulda, Oduya, Hainsey.
Again, you have the young guns and the solid veterans. We may be a little heavy on puck moving defensemen and light on shut down guys.
Pavelec, Manino, Carrozzi, Pasquali.
Apparently Italian goalies are the new Finnish goalies. Pav has a lot of potential and he's not as fragile as Kari. Give him two more years and he should be very solid. Especially if we keep Moose around to mentor and then hire him as a coach when he retires.
Take all of those players and assume that most of them develop the way that we expect. Swap a few out with free agents, trades, or the two first round draft picks Atlanta will have this year, and I think you'll like the product we put on the ice in October 2011.
I would almost advocate letting Army, Kubina, and Fins go in free agency this year and using next season as a youth-movement rebuilding year to get another high draft pick. Almost.
EDIT: Also, for your entertainment, take a look at my horribly wrong predictions for the Eastern Conference from September and compare them to the current actual standings.