NHL HomeGrown

By Brian Stubits and Adam Gretz

Ilya Kovalchuk (AP)  
Ilya Kovalchuk (AP)  
Imagine an NHL without free agency or trades, that once a player is drafted with a team he stays with that team for his entire career. What would the rosters look like? We at Eye on Hockey will take a look at the Home-Grown Teams of all 30 franchises -- three lines, two defensive pairs and two goaltenders. Three lines and two D pairs because this doesn't include undrafted free agents, only drafted players. We want to see who has drafted the best.

There is probably no franchise more excited at keeping its prospects than the Jets/Thrashers. Over the years they had to watch some of their best players be shipped out of town. Not now.

Line 1: Ilya Kovalchuk -- Alex Burmistrov -- Bryan Little

Thankfully in this world without trades, Kovalchuk is still with the franchise and is their horse and star. Any line that has him on it won't be bad, that much we can say for sure, but adding Little with an alright center in Burmistrov makes for a good top line.

Line 2: Evander Kane -- Jim Slater -- Dany Heatley

Well, one thing the Jets/Thrashers hit on well over the years was left wings. So much so that we're going to take one, Heatley, and put him on the right side instead of burying one on the third line. Slater gets a pretty enviable task of centering two scoring forwards like Heatley and the young Kane, who is a budding star in this league.

Line 3: Patrick Dwyer -- Mark Scheifele -- Derek MacKenzie

The depth runs out pretty quick after those top two lines, especially at center. That's why we're pressing Scheifele into action to play the center spot. He did appear in the first seven games of last season before returning to juniors. But in Dwyer and MacKenzie they do have players with some NHL experience under their belt and they suit the lower lines.

Offensive Scratch: Darcy Hordichuk

The reqruisuite tough guy in the press box position. Hordichuk has made his career in the NHL dropping the gloves. I think most were surprised to see he was still around when he re-signed with the Oilers this summer.

Defensive Pairing 1: Zach Bogosian -- Tobias Enstrom

Two high-scoring and still young defensemen together? It'll do for a top pairing, that's for certain.

Defensive Pairing 2: Braydon Coburn -- Jacob Trouba

Coburn is obviously a solid player to have on the second pairing but after the top three players on defense for the Jets, the dropoff is like skydiving. As a result we're going to accelerate Trouba's progress and get him in the NHL right away. Hopefully pairing him with Coburn will be a big help.

Defensive Scratch: Arturs Kulda

Like I said, it gets really thin on defense after the top three. In three seasons of NHL experience, Kulda has 15 games under his belt. His numbers in the AHL for both St. Johns and Chicago have been alright, though. So he gets the nod over Paul Postma.

Goaltending: Kari Lehtonen -- Ondrej Pavelec

Lehtonen, now in Dallas, was good for the Thrashers ... when he was healthy. He showed this last season that he can still hold down the net, allowing Pavelec to serve in the backup role, but he'd likely get a good chunk of the work. Like most goalies, Pavelec is streaky so we could ride the hot hand.

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