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Examining the Atlanta Thrashers forwards

by John McGourty

Complete Thrashers Analysis:
Intro | Goalies | Defense | Forwards
Feature | Numbers | Sked | Roster

Lining Up

Todd White is an excellent two-way center with good speed and a moderate scoring touch. He's a good passer and that's why Atlanta signed him, to play the pivot between Slava Kozlov and Marian Hossa or Ilya Kovalchuk and the player who wins the right-winger job. The Thrashers would like to see rookie Brett Sterling succeed in that spot. White, who is a very fast skater and has twice scored more than 20 goals, is on the verge of his highest scoring season ever.

All four Atlanta centers are known for their solid two-way play. Atlanta will use Bobby Holik to center the other top line. Steve Rucchin, if he recovers from lingering concussion symptoms, will center the third line and free agent Eric Perrin will center the fourth line. If Rucchin can't come back, Jim Slater will center one of those lines, but he'll be challenged by rookie Bryan Little, the most offensively gifted Atlanta center. Perrin gives the Thrashers options because he can also be effective at left wing, where the Thrashers also have Brad Larsen and rugged Eric Boulton. Jeff Schultz and Darren Haydar will play right wing on the third and fourth lines, setting up the battle between Sterling, Pascal Dupuis and free agent Chris Thorburn for the second-line right winger's spot.

Feeling Special

Ilya Kovalchuk, Marian Hossa, Slava Kozlov, Todd White, Sterling, Dupuis will all see power-play time as will Sterling and Little if they make the team. White, Hossa, Larsen, Dupuis, Holik, Kozlov and Rucchin are all effective penalty killers.

Up and Coming

Bryan Little -- Little (500K ) scored 153 goals and had 189 assists for 342 points and was plus-98 in 247 Ontario Hockey League games with the Barrie Colts over four years. He's 5-foot-10 and 200 pounds. Little is an excellent puck handler and passer who has a good shot. His skating isn't his biggest strength, but he's not bad and no once can deny that Little can produce points

X Factor

Todd White -- The veteran always has been known as a hard worker with good skills and excellent speed. He was a productive third-line center in Ottawa and played responsibly for Jacques Lemaire in Minnesota. But he's never had the opportunity to be the first-line center. This is White's chance to make a statement about what kind of hockey player he can be. If things go as hoped, look for White to top 30 goals and 60 assists. It's certainly not out of the question and if he can't do it, the Thrashers will be looking for someone who can.

Thrashers GM Don Waddell on Jim Slater:

"Jim Slater has great work habits and I think he'll be a good NHL player for a long, long time. He's never going to be a top No. 1 or No. 2 center, maybe a No. 2 center, but he'll be a solid third-line checking center who's going to get points."

1. Special teams are a concern for Atlanta. They finished 23rd in power-play scoring and 26th in penalty killing..

2. Kovalchuk led the Thrashers with 18 power-play goals while Hossa led with 27 power-play assists and 44 points..

3. Hossa led the Thrashers with a plus-18 rating's 2007-08 Thrashers Season Preview Package:
Intro | Goalies | Defense | Forwards | Feature | Numbers | Sked | Roster
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