The Atlanta Thrashers Are Finally Relevant Again

Atlanta Thrashers
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The Atlanta Thrashers have been in the media for the first time in a long time after the NHL started one of their many efforts to save the Arizona Coyotes, even though they’ve been virtually lifeless for more than a decade. Meanwhile, the NHL practically walked the Thrashers to the door when True North Sports and Entertainment came knocking. Because of this, NHL fans have begun the yearly debate on whether Atlanta should have another chance. Fans also ponder whether the Thrashers were treated unfairly by both the NHL and the Atlanta Spirit Group.

Rarely is it talked about what happened to the people who donned the baby blue. There is a surprising amount of alumni that are still playing hockey in various leagues across the world.

Atlanta Thrashers Still In The NHL

Surprisingly, there are still some Thrashers that have been good enough to hold on to an NHL position. Players Like Blake Wheeler, Evander Kane, and Andrew Ladd (surprisingly) are still logging minutes for NHL teams. Also, honourable mentions to Bryan Little who is technically still under contract with the Jets even though he’s not expected to play again, and Ben Chiarot who was drafted by the Thrashers in 2009.

Andrew Ladd

Andrew Ladd has had an interesting tenure in the NHL after spending one season with Atlanta. Two-time Stanley Cup champion spent 4 and a half seasons with the Winnipeg Jets, before being sent to the Chicago Blackhawks, where he had played before. After the 2015-2016 season concluded, Ladd signed a 7 year, $38.5 million contract with the New York Islanders. After a rocky tenure with the Islanders, he was traded to the Arizona Coyotes along with draft picks. So far, he has played 992 games and will soon be approaching the 1000th game mark, a historic milestone. He’ll be one of the only Thrashers alumni to reach that pedestal.

Evander Kane

The controversial former Thrasher who is known for knocking Matt Cooke out cold during a fight is still around. He played a couple of years with Atlanta, and then with the Jets after the move to Winnipeg. After some troubles with teammates (shown by a now-famous photo of Kane being flipped off by Dustin Byfuglien), the Jets traded him to the Buffalo Sabres along with Thrashers alumni Zach Bogosian. After a short stint with the Sabres, he was flipped to the San Jose Sharks in 2018. His contract was bought out by the Sharks, and then signed a 1-year deal with a $2.1 million cap hit. His career is safe for now, although that may change depending on their standings at the end of the year.

Zach Bogosian

Although his NHL career hasn’t been exciting, Zach Bogosian has had a pretty good second half of his career. To cap it off, he was crowned a Stanley Cup champion in 2020. Bogosian has spent the majority of his NHL career with the Jets and Sabres but signed a deal with the Tampa Bay Lightning for the 2019-2020 season, where he won the Stanley Cup. He signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs last year, although he failed to get anywhere with them, and is back in Tampa for the 2021-2022 season.

Blake Wheeler

Blake Wheeler played in other cities before arriving in Atlanta in 2010 for the final season before the move. However, he has been loyal to the soil with the Thrashers and Jets. It looks like he’ll be sticking around for the rest of his career. He is currently the last Thrasher who hasn’t left the organization after the team moved to Winnipeg.

Thrashers Currently Playing In Europe

Currently, Alexander Burmistrov and Patrice Cormier are the only Thrashers alumni playing in the KHL. Burmistrov played one season in the baby blue. Cormier spent only 21 games in the NHL and spent 11 games in the AHL with the Chicago Wolves.

In the SHL, Niclas Bergfors who played for the Thrashers for parts of two seasons currently plays for Djurgardens IF and has been there since the 2016-2017 season. Ben Maxwell, who only played 12 games for the Atlanta Thrashers, currently plays for Linkopings HC but has spent time in Finland, Switzerland, and the KHL.

Nigel Dawes, who spent the majority of his time in Atlanta with the AHL’s Chicago Wolves, spent a lot of time overseas in the KHL but is now playing for Adler Mannheim of the DEL. He competes against former Thrashers Arturs Kulda, who is currently playing for Krefeld Pinguine, and Spencer Machacek who is playing for the Wolfsburg Grizzlys.

There is a former Thrasher playing in Switzerland, as Carl Klingberg has been with Zug EV since 2016-2017.

Currently, there are two Thrashers in other European countries as Paul Postma, who spent a couple of years with the Chicago Wolves, has been with EC KAC in Austria, and Rob Schremp is playing for HK Mogo in Latvia.

Thrashers Who Are Either Elsewhere, Or Free Agents

There are a few notable Thrashers who are free agents. The most notable is Dustin Byfuglien who is pretty much retired at this point. Trashers legend Ilya Kovalchuk last played for the Gagarin Cup-winning Avangard Omsk. Anssi Salmela played for parts of two seasons with Atlanta and is currently a free agent after playing for Ilves Tampere last season.

Jordan Smotherman, who was a member of the Chicago Wolves, currently plays for the Worchester Railers. Although, he has spent time in a lot of different leagues, including the UK’s EIHL.

Eric Bertrand, who played in Atlanta’s inaugural season, plays part-time for the LNAH’s Thetford Assurancia. Although, he has been in the LNAH since 2009.

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