After Kovalchuk and Heatley: The other Thrasher Prospects

By Luc Villeneuve

The Atlanta Thrashers have been one of the worst clubs in the NHL the
last couple of years, and the privilege of this is getting low draft
picks. GM Don Wandell certainly took advantage of this by selecting Dany
Heatley 2nd overall in 2000 and Ilya Kovalchuk in 2001. The future looks
extremely bright for the Thrashers with these two amazing rookies, but
they will certainly not be able to win alone. So here is a list of 7
prospects that should join them in the next couple of years:

Michael Garnett: With no other promising goaltenders in the future for
the Thrashers, Garnett is by far the best goaltending prospect in for
the club. The Saskatoon native, should be able to develop as a number
one goalie in the league one day.

Kamil Piros: This center was acquired for former Thrashers star Donald
Audette from the Buffalo Sabres at the trade deadline in 2001. After
finishing his amazing season with the Chicago Wolves of the AHL, he
should take Ray Ferraro’s place on the roster next year and will stay
there for a long time.

Luke Sellars: The former Ottawa 67’s defenceman has spent the season in
the AHL and has been far from great. Almost re-entered the 2001 entry
draft by signing with the Thrashers on the last possible day. Should
have a couple of more seasons left with the Wolves before graduating
with the big club. He was recently reassigned to the club’s ECHL
affiliate in Greenville.

Zdenek Blatny: Was considered a steal by the Thrashers when they
selected him in 68th overall in the first entry draft in 1999. He had
been an offensive force with the Ice and Thunderbirds of the WHL but has
been far from the same player with the Wolves this season. He will
probably regain his offensive touch next season and join Kovalchuk in
Atlanta in a couple of years.

Ilya Nikulin: Probably the best defenceman prospect for the Thrashers.
Expected to be a first rounder in 2000, he was eventually selected 31st
overall. He has the potential to be a superstar defenceman and should
pick up many assists with Kovalchuk and Heatley in 2 to 3 years.

Kurtis Foster: Another big solid defenceman to come out of the
Peterborough Petes of the OHL, just like superstar Chris Pronger of the
Blues. Newly acquired from the Calgary Flames with Jeff Cowan for Petr
Buzek. He had started the year in the CHL but has joined the Chicago
Wolves and he has played well since.

”The first round pick”: This pick which should be a very early one in
the draft may be traded to acquire a veteran goaltender and defencemen
but if the Thrashers decide to keep it, it could become very
interesting. The players who will probably selected in this slot, should
be Jay Boumeester(defenceman) or Kari Lehtonen(goalie). So the question
is, will they trade the pick or keep it an draft a potential star?