LHH Mock Draft: Atlanta Thrashers

Before we get going, let's see who's gone:

1. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins C Oilers
2. Adam Larsson D Avalanche
3. Gabriel Landeskog RW Panthers
4. Sean Couturier C Devils
5. Dougie Hamilton D Islanders
6. Jonathan Huberdeau LW/C Senators

Once again, I hate you Ozzyfan. Truthfully if I was the Atlanta Thrashers and this is how the board went, I probably would have tried to trade up/down. The Thrashers could use a prolific scorer, as two of their top three players in points this year were defensemen. At the same time one of the most promising players left on the board, Mika Zibanejad, is a two way power forward Center. Not only do the Thrashers have Evander Kane already on the team but their top two Center prospects are large two way power forwards.

Unfortunately the next two highest rated Wingers are Sven Bartschi at 10 and Joel Armia at 13. I'd consider taking Bartschi here a stretch, given his size and worries that his stats are inflated from playing on a superbly talented Portland Winterhawks team. Armia, while he was tied for 11th place in LIJA in goals while playing against men, had half of his goals on the Power Play and hasn't grown into his size.

Taking all that into account, with the 7th overall pick the Atlanta Thrashers take Defenseman Ryan Murphy. Yes, I do realize he's a bit undersized at 5'11. But the Thrashers haven't taken a defenseman in the first round since Zach Bogosian in 2008. While they do have some players who might become top pairing guys, the key word is might. Of their top three prospect defenseman, only Paul Postma is known for being an offensive producer.

With Big Buff sticking around with the franchise for the next few years, Murphy can become a great secondary threat. Like a batter who thrives because the guy in the lineup in front of him is that much better, having to use your best defensive forwards to take care of Dustin Byfuglien will open up more of the ice for Murphy in the second pairing down the road. Also as mentioned, the Thrashers have plenty of big defensive defenseman to pair up with Murphy.

The Thrashers need someone who can create offense and score. Last season Byfuglien and Tobias Enstrom both had 50 point seasons. If you can't get the offensive forward to help things out, might as well add to what's already working for the team and continue improving the blueline. There's also rumors that former 3rd overall Zach Bogosian may be wearing out his welcome. In 2 seasons in the NHL he has 59 points while racking up a -45, including a -27 this year which was a step backwards.

Ryan Murphy Highlights

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