Bleacher Report caught up with Atlanta Thrashers General Manager Rick Dudley at the team's training facility in Duluth, Georgia during its Development Camp to discuss his early feelings about Atlanta's progress in preparing for the upcoming season.
Bleacher Report: How do you feel about the direction of the team so far?
Dudley: Well, we have made a few changes to the lineup, adding Dustin Buyfllien, Brent Sopel, Ben Eager, Akim Aliu, and Andrew Ladd. We also are taking a good look at Patrice Cormier and our No. 1 pick Alex Burmistrov. Overall, we feel pretty good about the direction we are going so far.
Bleacher Report : You also added your old teammate Craig Ramsay as the new head coach and John Torchetti as associate coach.
Dudley: We interviewed both men. Craig got the head coaching job, but we were also impressed with John and feel they both will make a strong contribution to the team on the bench and in practice. Craig Ramsay is a tremendous teacher and will bring his knowledge of the game in forming our team's offensive and defensive makeup.
Bleacher Report : What do you think of Patrice Cormier’s chances of making the squad this year?
Dudley: He will attend training camp and will have the opportunity to make the team. If he doesn’t make the team this year it won’t be long. He will play in the National Hockey League. It is not a matter of if, it is a matter of when.
Bleacher Report: Is there a player that you would compare Cormier to that has played in the NHL?
Dudley : I think Kirk Muller. Patrice has an intensity and competitiveness that every successful team needs.
Bleacher Report: Do you feel Akim Aliu has what it takes to make the squad?
Dudley: Yes. He has the size, weighs about 225 pounds, has speed, skill, and a nasty side. All great attributes for a NHL player.
Bleacher Report : Aliu has a history of being difficult. How that will affect his chances of making the team.
Dudley: There is no question that Akim has had some issues. Many that he has brought on himself, but I know him. He is a great kid and has the talent to earn a place in the lineup. He will get the opportunity to be successful with the Thrashers.
Bleacher Report: How would you describe your team's style?
Dudley: Coach Ramsey will push an aggressive offensive alignment. You will see a lot of four-man rushes with our defensemen involved in the offense. We feel it will create some positive things for us as the season progresses.