Saturday, August 25, 2007

Thrashers Current Goaltending Solid, Future Also Bright

Despite being knocked out in the first round last season, and being yanked in favour of Johan Hedberg after two games, the playoffs were a good thing for young Kari Lehtonen. He is going to be a stud in this league, but he still needs to gain experience. After Pasi Nurminen had his career ended by a devastating knee injury, the Thrashers goaltending hopes were all on Lehtonen's shoulders. One knock against Lehtonen was his consistency. He is about as consistent as Hockeybuzz's server (which in case you didn't know, is not good). The Thrashers brass are hoping that it improves with time, which in most cases it does. Lehtonen has lightning quick reflexes and a solid frame to work with at 6'4 195, so things should only get better for him. Johan Hedberg is a quality backup netminder who should provide 20-25 games of rest for Lehtonen, which is key.

Goaltender Fred Brathwaite came back from playing in Europe last season, and played 40 games for the Chicago Wolves of the AHL, the Thrashers farm team. He serves as a very formidable backstop if either one of Hedberg or Lehtonen goes down. The Thrashers also have a very highly regarded prospect coming up by the name of Ondrej Pavelec, who played for Cape Breton of the QMJHL last season. Patrick Roy was once quoted raving about him, calling him the "real deal" and that he would be a star one day. He is another large goalie with great reflexes, and he should be pressing Lehtonen for the starting position in Atlanta in no time. At 20 years old, he still has plenty of time to develop, and the Thrashers certainly won't be rushing him, so you probably won't see him on the radar until 2009-2010. The Thrashers shouldn't be worried about their goaltending for a while, they have decent goaltending now, and a young one coming up for the future.

6 comments:

Avsfan19 said...

Brathwaite's back in North America? I didn't hear about that. Good see him back in the NHL system, even if it is as a third stringer.

Eggshmeg said...

Yeah, they lured him back last year. I saw him play a little bit in Hamilton, he deserves another shot.

Avsfan19 said...

I still remember watching him at the Dome when he was starting for the Flames... One of many starters they had over the course of those few years, if I remember correctly.

habscaps9 said...

WOW talking about Brathwaite!

Anonymous said...

Lehts is 6'4", 205. He's put on some weight.

Eggshmeg said...

Hmm, I guess you are right:

http://www.hockeydb.com/ihdb/stats/pdisplay.php3?pid%5B%5D=50538

The Hockey News says he's still 195, so I don't know who to believe!