Atlanta Thrasher Rich Peverley Could Prove To Be a Team Leader This Season

Warren ShawCorrespondent IISeptember 18, 2010

Rich Peverley battles for the puck against Buffalo in NHL action.
Rich Peverley battles for the puck against Buffalo in NHL action.Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The Atlanta Thrashers offseason has been inundated with big trades, restricted (RFA) and unrestricted free agents (UFA) negotiations, draft and prospect evaluations, and new coaches getting their feet wet with new playbooks and offensive and defensive systems.

The team that ended the 2009-10 season, just missing the playoffs, is now a footnote in history.

Rick Dudley, Craig Ramsey, and the coaching staff  have assembled a squad consisting of a mixture of skill players, grinders, and role players that on paper give the Thrashers a distinct new look.

Superstar forward Ilya Kovalchuk is gone forever having signed a lucrative long-term deal with the New Jersey Devils.

The new look Thrashers begin the new season with the potential to have a balanced attack with all four lines potentially able to put the puck in the net and back check effectively allowing the defense to pinch in the offensive zone.

The Thrashers will have no single player, such as Kovalchuk, to rely on for offense, which means all the players will have to come together offensively and defensively.

Team management is hoping that with the new look will come with a new emphasis on tenacity and grit.

Gone are many of the so-called finesse type players who populated the team roster. Max Afinogenov, Colby Armstrong, Slava Kozlov, and Clarke Macarthur have departed and in their place, the Thrashers have stocked up on character players like Brent Sopel, Andrew Ladd, Patrice Cormier, Dustin Byufuglien, and returnee Rich Peverley.

Peverley has the potential to be an important role player and leader this season.  Last season, Peverley scored 22 goals and 33 assists for 55 points and in many games was a consistent offensive presence along with Kovalchuk, Afinogenov, and Antropov.

According to Wikipedia, Peverley spent four years with the St. Lawrence University hockey team, before he turned pro, and played three years for several teams in both the ECHL and AHL. In 2007, he signed a contract with the Nashville Predators of the NHL, playing for the team for parts of three seasons before the Thrashers who claimed him off waivers in 2009.

Prior to beginning his professional career, Peverley played collegiate hockey for St. Lawrence University where he led the Skating Saints in points in three of his four seasons.

Peverley went undrafted by any NHL team but persevered in his dream to play professional hockey. He worked his way through the minor leagues and finally got a opportunity with Atlanta to play in the NHL full time.

On January 10, 2009, the Atlanta Thrashers claimed Peverley off waivers, after accumulating 9 points in 27 games. The transfer to Atlanta resuscitated his career as he collected 35 points in 39 games for the remainder of the 2008-09,

Peverley signed a deal for a two-year, $2.6 million contract with the Thrashers that was a bargain, based on his performance and character attributes.

With the ability to play center or wing and the hustle Craig Ramsay and Rick Dudley badly need to turn fortunes around in Atlanta, Peverley is a solid contributor to a team that seems to have improved—at least on paper.