Thrashers junior prospects 2009-10 review

By Kyle West

The acquisition of Patrice Cormier in the Ilya Kovalchuk trade with New Jersey gave the Atlanta Thrashers 10 CHL prospects this season. Although Cormier’s vicious elbow on Mickael Tam, and his resulting suspension from QMJHL play, has earned him the most notoriety, his talent should not be overlooked.

Patrice Cormier, C — Rouyn-Noranda Huskies, QMJHL
Acquired via trade from the New Jersey Devils, March, 2010

It’s been a very eventful year for Patrice Cormier. Traded to Atlanta as part of the blockbuster Kovalchuk deal, he was earlier in the season traded at the junior level from Rimouski to the Huskies. Just three games into his stint with the new club, he got his elbow up while making a hit on Mickael Tam of the Quebec Remparts. The sight of Tam convulsing on the ice as a result of the hit earned Cormier international condemnation and he was suspended for the rest of the season by the QMJHL. Earlier in the year, as captain of Canada’s entry at the World Junior Championships, Cormier had thrown a similar elbow into the face of a Swedish player during an exhibition game. Although the damage was minimal in that case, it underlined the inability of Cormier to keep himself from crossing the line and becoming a liability to his team. An intense competitor with leadership qualities who loves to hit and agitate, Cormier will look to make a fresh start next season after an AHL playoff cameo this year. He will compete for a job in Atlanta, but if he doesn’t make it, will play for the Chicago Wolves.

Eric O’Dell, C — Sudbury Wolves, OHL
Acquired via trade from the Anaheim Ducks, March, 2009

Traded to Atlanta in the deal that sent Erik Christensen to Anaheim, Eric O’Dell continued to put up strong numbers in the OHL in 2009-10 with 33 goals and 68 points in 68 games. As one of the best players on a disappointing Sudbury team, O’Dell showed good determination to fight through checks and make things happen and was also a key performer on the power play. A clever playmaker with above average hockey sense and a pro shot, O’Dell must continue to get physically stronger as he progresses. He has joined the AHL’s Chicago Wolves for the playoffs.

Jeremy Morin, C — Kitchener Rangers, OHL

Drafted  in the 2nd Round, 45th overall in the 2009 Entry Draft

Morin slipped in the draft due to concerns over his short skating stride, stamina and hockey sense. Drafted out of the USNTP, Morin’s switch to the OHL has yielded an outburst of scoring. A pure goal scorer who displays great determination and finds open ice, Morin has sniped and eye-popping 47 goals in 58 regular-season games with Kitchener and 12 goals in 19 playoff games. He had 36 assists on the season. The Auburn Hills, NY native also played a key role on the gold-medal winning USA team at the World Junior Championships with two goals and five assists in seven games. He’ll likely need another year of junior to further work on his overall game.

Edward Pasquale, G — Saginaw Spirit, OHL

Drafted in the 4th Round, 117th overall in the 2009 Entry Draft

Playing his final year of junior hockey, Pasquale again faced a lot of shots backstopping a weak Saginaw team. Although his overall stats were not as strong in the regular season, he picked up his play dramatically in the playoffs and was at times sensational in a six-game defeat by the powerful Kitchener Rangers. Pasquale’s goals against average dropped to a 2.33 in the six playoff games and his .941 save percentage was testament to his brilliance against the Rangers high-powered offense. A big goalie with strong positional play and cool demeanor, Pasquale will turn pro next season.

Levko Koper, LW — Spokane Chiefs, WHL
Drafted in the 7th Round, 185th overall in the 2009 Entry Draft

A fast-skating winger with a strong shot, Koper slipped to the seventh round due to concerns over his lack of consistent effort. Those concerns have yet to be confirmed as he has shown good progression this season riding shotgun for Spokane’s top scorer Mitch Wahl (CAL). Koper’s return of 27 goals in 68 games would have been a minimal expectation before the season started, but his strong two-way play makes him a valued teammate. In the postseason, he put up five points in seven playoff games. A feisty player who likes to mix it up, Koper has all the tools and with his fall birthday, will get his chance to prove he belongs in the pro leagues next fall.

Chris Carrozzi, G — Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors, OHL

Drafted in the 6th Round, 154th overall in the 2008 Entry Draft

Along with Pasquale, the Thrashers have two OHL all-star goalies in the prospect pool. Carrozzi was named to the all-star selection this season, posting a solid 2.28 goals against average and a more than respectable .920 save percentage, while Pasquale was an all-star last year. Carrozzi has worked hard to overcome his weaknesses, namely his lateral movement and glove hand. A big goalie with strong positional play, Carrozzi will force the Thrashers to find room in the pro ranks for both he and Pasquale next season.

Danick Paquette, RW — Quebec Remparts, QMJHL
Drafted in the 3rd Round, 64th overall in the 2008 Entry Draft

A classic example of a player who everybody hates except his teammates, Paquette is an agitator and instigator extraordinaire. In his final year of junior, he has also shown good hands for scoring goals with 36 in 64 games. Perhaps most importantly for his development, he has also decreased the number of penalty minutes he has cost his team, although still playing with an aggressive edge. Ready to turn pro next year, his greater discipline and renewed focus will benefit the Thrashers in a fourth-line energy role some day if he can improve his skating. Paquette played four end-of-season games in the AHL and had 12 penalty minutes assessed.

Ben Chiarot, D – Sudbury Wolves, OHL

Drafted in the 4th Round, 120th overall in the 2009 Entry Draft

Traded to Sudbury halfway through the season, the imposing and physical Chiarot nearly doubled his offensive production this past year while continuing to throw his weight around. Scoring eight goals and 13 assists, as well as his first ever playoff goal, was all gravy for this stay-at-home type who projects to a bottom-pairing defenseman with toughness. He got a brief taste of the AHL at the end of the season and will look to continue his progress in the pro ranks next year.

Jimmy Bubnick, RW/C –- Calgary Hitmen, WHL

Drafted in the 6th Round, 155th overall in the 2009 Entry Draft

Picked up by Calgary late in the season, Bubnick has had a good playoff run with the Hitmen, scoring 12 points in 18 games. A big body and physical player, Bubnick can line up either on the wing or at center. He showed consistent production in the regular season with 53 points in 65 games and projects as a solid, two-way pro with decent hands.

Cody Sol, D — Saginaw Spirit, OHL
Drafted in the 5th Round, 125th overall in the 2009 Entry Draft

A teammate of Pasquale in Saginaw, Sol is a towering physical presence who protects his teammates. Standing at 6’4 and 215 pounds, Sol already has the physique of an NHL enforcer. His offensive upside is limited, seven goals in 55 games, and his lack of mobility may hamper his long-term effectiveness. When he turns pro, the Thrashers he may want to consider moving him to the wing.