Coach Anderson on Thrashers prospects development

By Holly Gunning

Coach John Anderson is in his seventh season behind the bench of the Chicago Wolves, the Atlanta Thrashers AHL affiliate. The former Toronto Maple Leaf led the Wolves to the 1998 and 2000 Turner Cup Championships and a 2002 Calder Cup Championship.

He commented on nine of Atlanta’s prospects last weekend in Cincinnati.

Kurtis Foster, D: “He’s got a great shot and he’s scoring lots of points. His defensive game has picked up so I think he’s within a year of playing in the National Hockey League.”

Libor Ustrnul, D: “Libor’s been hurt off and on throughout the year. Big strong guy, works really hard. Needs to work on his puck control and puck handing, but gives you 100 percent every night.”

Paul Flache, D: “From what I’ve seen of him from two years ago when he played in Traverse City with us, he’s really improved and certainly will be a mainstay on our defense next year.”

Michael Garnett, G: “Tremendous improvement over the last two years. He’ll play for us next year and probably finish the year here.”

Tommi Santala, F: “Tommi had a great game tonight. He’s a really strong, big kid on the puck. Sees the ice very well. If he picks up his speed a little bit it will be good for him.”

Stephen Baby, F: “Big strong guy. He’s got to pick up his foot speed a little bit. But he’s been surprisingly good around the net so I’m really happy with how he’s had a chance to score and add offensively.”

Derek MacKenzie, F: “Well he’s up in the National League for a reason right now. Over the last three years he’s really matured as a pro. He’s one of those kids who is really easy to teach because he does listen.”

Karl Stewart, F: “One year away, he’s just got to get rid of a few of his bad habits from junior. He’s got to learn how to score a little more because he creates so much. Once he gets started boy, he could score 20-25 goals in the National Hockey League.”

Zdenek Blatny, F: “I think he’s a year away. He had quite a long stint in the National League this year. He’s got a great shot, decent speed and he’s strong on the puck. If he brings a little bit of an attitude to the game every night, he should go to the National Hockey League.”

Who has been the biggest surprise for Anderson this year? “Probably Karl Stewart. He’s very effective. He drives people crazy. I think he has a good chance of playing in the National Hockey League. Also I think (defenseman) Mike Weaver. He’s probably been our MVP overall this year.”

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