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NHL Trade Deadline: What Do The Thrashers Need?

It seems like the Atlanta Thrashers have already made at least one large move, and a move to get tradable assets for Monday's trade deadline. The pick-up of Blake Wheeler and Mark Stuart from Boston allowed GM Rick Dudley to move pending-UFA Brent Sopel to Montreal for a prospect and a pick. The team added size up the middle, and got assets for someone who apparently did not wish to re-sign in Atlanta. Unfortunately, it also lost its top shot blocker. The team's porous enough, especially on the penalty kill, so this leaves even more obvious the area that Atlanta needs to fix come Monday if they hope to be buyers instead of sellers at the deadline.

The Thrashers need to fix their penalty kill. They've needed to do so for about the past two months or so, since the injury to Jim Slater took out one of the team's best PKers. It's fallen to 29th in the league, and so many goals that have cost the team games have been allowed on the kill it's unreasonable to expect Dudley to not do something to remedy the situation. Unfortunately, it should have been done two months ago before it was allowed to contribute to the team's steady decline in the standings.

It's usually unreasonable to trade within the division, but the team underneath the Thrashers, the Florida Panthers, have exactly what Atlanta needs. Florida's penalty kill is the second best in the league at 86.3%, and a good bit of that has to do with center Marty Reasoner, a former Thrasher, and defeseman Mike Weaver. Weaver was on the St. Louis Blues when they had the league's best penalty kill, and it's no coincidence that it's dropped off since he was allowed to walk at the end of last season.

Regardless of where they acquire players from - Florida just happens to have the best assets - the penalty kill needs to be fixed ASAP if the team wants to work back into 8th place. Scoring by committee can be done - it was done very well the first thirty or so games of the season - but the team lacks the confidence to do so thanks to all of the power play goals allowed. It'd be nice to pick up a scorer to add some oomph, of course, but I don't see that being the number one priority to get fixed come Monday afternoon.

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.