After a dismal season that saw the Atlanta Thrashers sink farther from the fabric of the Atlanta sports scene, the promise of renewal that this year's NHL Draft provided was a welcome breath of fresh air.
The Thrashers were blessed to have the fourth overall pick in this year's draft, and they took the opportunity to take Evander Kane, a solid two-way center with a competitive spirit and a physicality that was sorely lacking in Atlanta's game last year. He also is a very good offensive force on a team that sometimes lacks in that department.
With that in mind, I would like to introduce you, Thrashers fans, to the newest members of your franchise: the Thrasher Draft Class of 2009.
Fourth Overall Pick: Evander Kane, Center, Vancouver, BC
Evander Kane, a 17-year old drafted from Vancouver of the WHL, is a solid two-way center that is content to drop back and play defense, but is also able to switch gears on a dime and attack with an offensive potency that made him arguably the second best forward in the draft.
He racked up 33 points in his team's first 18 games, which was good enough to lead the league in scoring.
Bruce Haralson, an NHL scout, told nhl.com "what's impressive to me is that he doesn't necessarily have to dominate with the puck to be effective. He just has that sense of timing and gets to the holes."
Scouts and pundits compare Kane to Calgary center Jarome Iginla, and as an African-American, he is in a unique position to sell the game to that community in Atlanta. He said in his profile on nhl.com that he is hoping to spark interest in hockey in the city, and would be "very happy" to have the responsibility.
His namesake, Evander Holyfield, was nicknamed "The Real Deal," and hopefully Kane can live up to that hype with the Thrashers.
34th Overall Pick: Carl Klingberg, Left Wing, Gothenburg, Sweeden
Carl, an 18-year-old winger, played for Sweden in this year's World Junior Championships U18 division, and played pretty well, scoring four points in the team's six games.
During the regular season in the Swedish Jr. Hockey League, he netted 13 goals and 13 assists and racked up 34 penalty minutes for the Frolunda HC.
According to scouting reports, he is a quick skater, and an adept puck handler. He also loves to get physical, whether in the checking department or dropping the gloves.
His NHL equivalent is Johan Franzen, and in some circles he is known as "The New Mule" after the Detroit winger.
45th Overall Pick: Jeremy Morin, Left Winger, Auburn, New York
Jeremy, 18 years old, scored 48 points (26 goals, 22 assists) in 46 games in the US Development Program this last season. He also racked up 94 penalty minutes.
According to scouting reports, Morin needs to work on his defensive zone skill, but he is a good forechecker and is fiercely competitive.
He is expected to play for the Kitchener Rangers (OHL) next year.
117th Overall Pick: Edward Pasquale, Goalie, Toronto
With the Saginaw Spirit of the OHL, Edward, 18, racked up a save percentage of 0.911 and a W-L-T record of 36-21-6. He also had a GAA of 3.02 last season.
120th Overall Pick: Ben Chiarot, Defenseman, Hamilton, ON
With the Guelph Storm of the OHL, Ben had 12 points in 67 games, but he also had an astounding 111 penalty minutes. He also had three assists in the team's four playoff games this year.
125th Overall Pick: Cody Sol, Defenseman, Woodstock, ON
With the Saginaw Spirit of the OHL, Cody, 18, used his 6'4" frame to rack up 128 penalty minutes in 66 games. He only had seven points during the regular season, but he stepped up in the playoffs by notching two assists.
155th Overall Pick: Jimmy Bubnick, Center, Esterhazy, SK
Playing with the Kamloops Blazers of the WHL, Jimmy scored 25 goals and 32 assists during a stellar offensive regular season. He also had 41 PIM in 72 games.
185th Overall Pick: Levko Koper, Left Wing, Edmonton, AB
Levko scored 23 goals and added 36 assists with the Spokane Chiefs of the WHL. He also had 10 points in the team's 12 playoff games as well.
203rd Overall Pick: Jordan Samuels-Thomas, Left Wing, Hartford, Connecticut
Playing with the Waterloo Black Hawks of the USHL, Jordan had 32 goals and 22 assists in 59 games played. He also had 59 penalty minutes in the regular season. In three playoff games, he scored two goals as well.