OTTAWA -- The defensive demise of the Atlanta Thrashers last season provided General Manager Don Waddell all the motivation he needed entering the 2008 NHL Entry Draft at Scotiabank Place.
The Thrashers, who finished 28th in the League with 76 points, allowed the most shots per game (33.9) and finished tied with Tampa Bay with a League-worst 3.24 goals-against per game. Additionally, the club ranked 27th with a 78.8 percent penalty-killing efficiency.
Waddell, with two picks in the opening round, was determined to address the need to get better defensively from the get-go. With the third-overall choice – the highest selection by Atlanta since choosing either first or second from 1999 through 2002 – Waddell drafted defenseman Zach Bogosian. At No. 29 – a pick received in the Marian Hossa deal with Pittsburgh at the February trade deadline – Waddell opted for speedy center Daultan Leveille.
Here is a look at Atlanta’s 2008 NHL Entry Draft class:
No. 3 Zach Bogosian, D, Peterborough (OHL) -- With an uncanny knack to think on the fly and make the proper decisions under duress, Bogosian was a solid choice at this spot. The Thrashers now have a pair of young bookends -- Tobias Enstrom, 23, is also in the fold -- on the blue line.
Bogosian exhibits excellent puck skills and an ability to show quickness and agility on the transition. Most importantly, he knows how to set up teammates as evidenced this past season with the Petes when he ranked second among OHL defensemen with 50 assists. He was also the only defender in the league to lead his team in points, scoring 61.
“We had a lot of offers to trade this pick, which showed just how important this player is,” Waddell told NHL.com. “When you get an opportunity to draft these top players, this is your reward for having a tough year. He has so much potential and is a big and strong defenseman who will be in the League for many years; so we’re excited to add him to our depth chart.”
No. 29 Daultan Leveille, C, St. Catharines (GHL) -- Leveille earned his praise with a dominating performance in the Golden Horseshoe League, racking up 29 goals and 56 points in 45 regular-season games. He really elevated his play in the postseason, however, leading the league with 14 goals and finishing second with 30 points in just 16 games. He’ll attend Michigan State University next fall instead of playing major-junior hockey.
No. 64 Danick Paquette, RW, Lewiston (QMJL) -- The 6-foot, 210-pound forward, who patterns his game after Ottawa’s Chris Neil and Anaheim’s Todd Bertuzzi, finished third on his
team with 29 goals and second in the QMJHL with 213 penalty minutes this past season.
No. 94 Vinny Saporani, RW, USA U-18 (USNTDP) – Waddell was thrilled to snare this resident of nearby Powder Springs, Georgia. Saporani, who will attend Boston University in the fall, collected 13 goals and 20 assists in 49 games with USA Under-18 team last season.
No. 124 Nicklas Lasu, LW, Frolunda Jr. (Sweden) – The 5-foot-11, 176-pound winger collected 19 goals and 34 assists in 41 games with Frolunda of the Swedish Junior League.
No. 154 Christopher Carrozzi, G, Mississauga St. Michael’s (OHL) – Carrozzi, who won 25 games for St. Michael’s with a .911 save percentage in 2007-08, was also a member of the gold medal-winning Team Canada at the 2008 Under-18 International Ice Hockey Federation World Championships.
No. 184 Zach Redmond, D, Ferris State (CCHA) – The 6-1, 191-pound defenseman will enter his sophomore season at Ferris State University in the fall. He is regarded as a well-conditioned skater with excellent offensive instincts.
Contact Mike Morreale at email@example.com.