Needs: The Thrashers need consisten scorers. An inability to score in key games down the stretch was an issue in their failure to make the playoffs. If they don't re-sign Afinogenov, who was tied for the team lead in goals, they will need to look elsewhere. Ilya Kovalchuk's 31 goals as a Thrasher were seven more than Afinogenov and Antropov. The only other 20-goal scorers were Peverley and Bergfors (13 with Devils). The Thrashers could use another gritty in-front-of-the net forward in coach John Anderson's system.
Outlook: The Thrashers will certainly look to Kane for an increased role next season. They will need more scoring from White, who was injured much of last season, and Little, who had 13 goals one season removed from a 31-goal campaign. Several players in the minor league system will be given a long look, including Patrice Cormier, obtained in the Kovalchuk trade, and Spencer Machecek.
Under contract next season: Zach Bogosian, Tobias Enstrom, Ron Hainsey, Johnny Oduya, Boris Valabik
Unrestricted free agent: Pavel Kubina, Mark Popovic, Christoph Schubert
Restricted free agents: None
Needs: A priority is bringing Kubina back. He gave the blue-liners much needed size and experience last season. If not, he will need to be replaced by a similar player. The Thrashers will also need more shots from the point from the defense next season, another key to Anderson's system. A healthy Bogosian will help in that regard. It may be assumed that Enstrom's off-season instruction was to get prepared to shoot more. Kubina acknowledge that, should he return, he needs to have more than six goals.
Outlook: If Kubina returns, the Thrashers have a solid five in place. That would leave Valabik and, most likely, Arturs Kulda or Ivan Vishnevskiy, who each saw brief NHL time, battling for a spot. It's possible that either Popovic or Schubert could be re-signed for depth.
Under contract next season: None
Unrestricted free agents: Johan Hedberg
Restricted free agent: Ondrej Pavelec
Needs: Right now, two goaltenders. Pavelec is young and big and improved his technique over the season. His admitted loss of confidence in the middle of the season was an issue. A veteran presence such as Hedberg would be a wise acquisition. The duo worked very well together this season. Goaltending was not the reason the Thrashers failed to make the playoffs.
Outlook: After the trade of Kari Lehtonen, it appears Pavelec has a future in Atlanta. One of the biggest off-season issues facing th team is what to do with the other goaltending position. Hedberg played his way into increased interest from around the league. If he is not retained, another veteran could be added. General manager Don Waddell said the team has options in the minors as well.