Poking around the interwebz the past few days, I've caught some of the season previews sneaking out. I've already looked at the Blues' offense on here, but the previews I've seen the most of on-line have been for the Thrashers since so many previews have been alphabetically released. The thing that's catching my eye is that they've been mostly positive-ish. Of course, positive-ish for the Thrashers in the national media is "they won't finish last!" so I kind of take what I can get.
SB Nation's look at the pre-season power rankings is a compilation of the individual blog owners' opinions of where the standings'll wind up. Take it with a grain of salt since it's a group effort (and don't jump Travis - he just had the duty of getting it together). I consider pre-season power rankings a wash - they take into consideration all of the bloggers' pre-conceived ideas about the team as well as their compiling of information from media outlets, and let's face it - no one's cuddly with Atlanta. I picked apart the rankings on SB Nation Atlanta. Usually I don't pay a bit of attention to power rankings because they're just opinion, but I wanted to look at SB Nation's since I write there on a few blogs.
But ranking Southeast Division teams lowly, or at least just blowing them off, is a mistake. Adam Proteau of The Hockey News has a good point - out of the Eastern Conference divisions, the SE made the most moves and the most effort during the off-season to noticably improve. Laugh at your own expense, but every team's gotten better, and with the exception of maybe the Panthers, they each have a legit shot of making the playoffs. You can't look at the SE this year and write everyone off but the Caps, and that should make folks think through their power rankings for once.
Unless you're Jamie Bell of TSN. TSN completely wrote the Thrashers off in their pre-season preview in a write-up that couldn't be more wrong. It's a mash-up of assumptions that fails to take about half of the team into consideration. Apparently dropping dough on an "impact player" is necessary for the team to move up in the standings. This statement comes after Bell lists the players that the Thrashers added. He might not be a big name, but if you don't think Chris Mason is an impact player, you haven't been watching Western Conference hockey for the past two seasons.
This selection from the article made me actually laugh out loud:
The departures of Max Afinogenov, MacArthur, Colby Armstrong, Slava Kozlov and White means there will be plenty of forward spots up for grabs in training camp. While there are some promising prospects on the horizon it will be difficult to fill the skates of the departing veterans, no matter how many bit pieces from the reigning Stanley Cup champs are brought in. This team is going to have a great deal of difficulty scoring.
Ok, I've already addressed this on SB Nation Atlanta - the Thrashers have replaced that scoring and have replaced it with defensively responsible players. How they're worse off is confusing - if losing Ilya Kovalchuk wasn't that big of a deal to the team, how is losing Todd White? TSN is usually home of solid reporting, but this is supposition and laziness combined. The same moves that had the rest of the hockey media sitting up and taking notice, even if for a second, seems to have flown over Bell's head.
Mike Chen of From the Rink is obviously on the ball. He has the Thrash ranked as next year's breakout team. I'm a homer and biased, and not sure if this is really the case (it might be a bit of hyperbole), but I do like how it sounds. That, and Mike put forth more effort in his paragraph blurb than TSN did in their preview, so I'm giving the edge to him.