There is no argument that the Atlanta Thrashers have significantly improved the overall depth of the team to start the 2010-11 season.
Just a few months ago at the conclusion of the 2009-10 season there was a large amount of pessimism surrounding the future of the team.
It seemed everyone was dissin” the Atlanta Thrashers despite the fact that the team just missed the playoffs by only a few games.
A large amount of the detractors were disappointed because the team was unable to resign superstar forward Ilya Kovalchuk to a new long term contract.
Attendance fell below 15,000 during the last cluster of home games at Phillips Arena.
In retrospect, retaining Kovalchuk would have placed the Thrashers in a financial tailspin that would not have necessarily landed them in the playoffs and ultimately may have cost the city a NHL franchise.
In addition, they would have wedged the team into a corner they would eventually find uncomfortable.
Trading Kovalchuk may just go down in history as one of the best transactions the Atlanta Thrashers ever made.
Johnny Oduya, Nicklas Bergfor, and high potential prospect Patrice Cormier helped reshape the culture of the franchise into a more well rounded, aggressive squad with unfriendly disposition. With trades that produced Dustin Buyflien, Brent Sopel, and Akim Aliu and a stable of draft choices such as offensive defenseman Paul Postma and Chicago Wolves minor league plus minus leader Arturs Kulda and Boris Valibek not to mention 6'7 and 245 pound Andrei Zuberov the team has been transmogrified.
Are the Thrashers better off without Kovalchuk on the team?
The 2009 Thrashers were dependant on Kovalchuk to score key goals and produce at critical points.
If he was off for a particular game then the team had very little chance of winning.
The 2010-11 incarnation will rely on a balanced attack in which the forwards and defensemen will have considerably more responsibility at both ends of the rink.
Coach Craig Ramsey said,” The defenseman will be involved in the offense and aggressive on the fore check”.
With a different offensive and defensive configuration players like Bufylien, Bogosian, Bergfors,Antropov and Little could have breakout offensive years.
While the team will not have a potential 50-goal scorer on the squad, they do have the potential for three forward lines to produce offense on each shift.
The Thrashers find themselves in a position that they have rarely been in their entire tenure in Atlanta.
The team now has options that if exploited will catapult the Thrashers to heights they have never reached yet as a franchise.
The Stanley Cup playoffs.