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Craig Ramsay (1st season)
35-34-13 (10th in East)
D-RW Dustin Byfuglien, LW Nigel Dawes, LW Andrew Ladd
RW Colby Armstrong, G Johan Hedberg, D Pavel Kubina
WHEN THEY traded for Dustin Byfuglien in June, the Thrashers snagged one of the central figures of the 2010 postseason. Byfuglien, who can play both on the blue line and on the wing, scored 11 goals during the Blackhawks' run to the Cup. But Atlanta coach Craig Ramsay, looking to shore up a defense that gave up the sixth-most goals per game in the NHL (3.05), plans to use Byfuglien and his 6'4", 257-pound frame on the blue line, where he can keep the crease clear in front of goaltenders Chris Mason and Ondrej Pavelec.
Byfuglien will be surrounded by youngsters, including wingers Evander Kane, 19, and Bryan Little (above), 22, and 20-year-old defenseman Zach Bogosian. In a separate trade with Chicago, the Thrashers added veteran forward Andrew Ladd. "Our goal is to get contributions from our fourth line, from our sixth defenseman, from every guy in the dressing room," says Ramsay. "That sort of depth makes you harder to play against." If he's right, the mix of kids and vets might help the Thrashers make some noise in the spring.