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Article:Atlanta Thrashers Have Top Farm System, but Will It Help Now?

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Last week MLN Sports named the Atlanta Thrashers as the top player development system in minor league hockey for 2008, based on their collection of top prospects that they can move that were announced in the annual MLN FAB50 Hockey rankings. Does it help though?  Having the Chicago Wolves as a AAA partner in the AHL puts one of the best player development clubs and a winning mentality at the Thrashers doorstep.  Atlanta has benefited from the relationship, with prospects like Lehtonen turning into great home-grown talent, and even though they probably should have kept Coburn, he was still valuable. Now they have top prospects like Sterling, Little, Oystrick, Valabik, and Pavelec becoming rapidly available.  Will they help build the Thrashers into a dominant presence the way that the Anaheim Ducks' prospects transformed that club from road-kill to champion? The Thrashers front office sees the development cycle as a slow one that has taken them almost ten years to get to at this point. They see another 3-5 before they yield those kind of results.  In the big picture, it makes sense, both from a player development standpoint, where you don't want to rush prospects into what they can't handle, and a business standpoint, in protecting those very sizable investments, but it is not fast enough to please a lot of Thrashers fans, who would like to see them pull the trigger and start winning now. They tried to hurry Sterling along last season to mixed results, so back down he went. When he hits the Thrashers's bench, it will be a finished work. I don't think that Little or Valabik is ready to be rushed. Maybe Oystrick has the makeup for it. I'm wondering what Thrashers fans think about the club, and what you would like to see them do with their top prospects down at the Chicago Wolves?

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