The Winnipeg Jets franchise: An alumni team for the ages

Kevin C. Cox

With all the fuss about the Winter Classic and the alumni games this week, I have imagined what the Winnipeg Jets alumni roster would look like using only former Thrashers and Jets.

Alumni Guidelines:

You can't make an alumni team willy-nilly so I came up with some guidelines.

1. They have to be out of the NHL. They can be playing in Europe or Russia or the AHL though.

2. Only players who played for the Jets 2.0 are included. This means no Keith Tkachuk or Teemu Selanne.

3. Minimum of 41 games played for the franchise. This can be split between the two locations. It is the same franchise.

4. I excluded players who would not be able to play because of injury. Otherwise, Marc Savard is on the roster.

5. If there is any problems in choosing between two players, the player with the cooler name was selected.

6. In attempt to prove how poorly run the Thrashers were, some player selection is a troll job on the organization. A pretty good team could have been assembled going off of points alone.

Thanks to @HildyMac and @swerin_mervin for the help.

First line: Ilya Kovalchuk - Slava Kozlov - Maxim Afinogenov

Reason: All three Russians were above average players for Atlanta. Every single offensive category in Thrasher/Jet history is Kovalchuk followed by Kozlov. Afinogenov only played one year in Atlanta but he had 61 points in that one year, making him a fine first line player. The Kovalchuk inclusion is also an excellent troll job on the NHL because of how he left New Jersey.

Second Line: Nik Antropov - Ray Ferraro - Shawn McEachern

Reason: All three finished their time with the Thrashers/Jets at roughly a .5 ppg pace, which is good for a second line. Antropov has the added benefit of also having played in Winnipeg. McEachern was the captain from 2002-2004.

Third Line: Jeff Cowan - Erik Christensen - Colby Armstrong

Reason: This is the line I like to call the "we failed at trading Hossa line". Though Armstrong played alright for them, Christensen was terrible for them, registering only 23 points. The two of them combined for only 103 points in 236 games. Combined with the Angelo Esposito bust and the Daulton Leveille pick, the trade was flat out terrible for the Thrashers.

Fourth Line: Francis Lessard - Bobby Holik - Denny Lambert

Reason: It is a tribute to the Jets current fourth line. It is also a reminder that both Lessard and Lambert played over 100 games for the Thrashers. Bobby Holik was paid over $4 million dollars to play on the fourth line.

Defence: I went into all out troll mode here. Why not, they never had many good defencemen who are not current Jets and even the current Jets are not that deep there.

First Pair: Brett Clark - Greg de Vries

Reason: Clark was a good defence man in the NHL. He was also an original Thrasher, having been claimed by Atlanta in the Expansion Draft from the Montreal Canadiens. He only played 44 games for the Thrashers though. Greg de Vries won a Stanley Cup with the Avalanche and was traded to the Thrashers from the Senators because he was not playing up to his contract. Sounds about right.

Second Pair: Garnet Exelby - Shane Hnidy

Reason: Exelby was supposedly good until he started fighting and getting concussions. He also played for a month on a broken femur so there's that. Shane Hnidy does colour on TSNJets . So there's that.

Third Pair: Ken Klee - Frantisek Kaberle

Reason: Uh, Kaberle won a cup with the Carolina Hurricanes. Other then that they both played a bunch of games with the Thrashers. I really got nothing here.

Fourth Pair: Boris Valabik - Alexei Zhitnik

Reason: I included him because he was drafted to be the next Chara. He is not in the NHL anymore, but his last organization was Boston. Zhitnik became a Thrasher for four playoff games and at the price of Braydon Coburn. Coburn would look nice on the Jets blue line right now.

Goaltenders: Johan Hedberg

Reason: He played for the Manitoba Moose and everyone loves him. Atlanta and Winnipeg have always had bad goaltending so that is reason enough to me.

Pasi Nurminen

He played over 100 games and had a save percentage close to Ondrej Pavelec. Good enough.

Rick Tabaracci

Wikipedia says he only played one game but swervin_mervin wanted him in on the basis of his name so he is the third goalie.

Coaches: This was all HildyMac. She gave me three names and we created this. Both these guys will be available to coach in 2016 (and for eternity).

Head Coach: Don Waddell - He was a terrible GM and his coaching was equally bad. By keeping him around, the Atlanta Thrashers ownership showed how much they cared about the team. He is the kind of man who knew how to ruin a franchise. So naturally he helped scout for the 2014 US Mens Olympic Team.

Assistant Coach: John Anderson - He was Atlanta's Claude Noel, not great at his job, employed for over a year, and confused about what is wrong. His MO was calling the team fragile.

Conclusion: The only way to conclude this article is: Eat your heart out Red Wings, Canadiens, and Oilers.

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