This is the beginning of our series entitled “What happened to him?” where we go back in time to the initial Winnipeg Jets roster in 2011. The point of the series is to examine each player from the first season and see what happened to their careers. This idea came from the fact that Blake Wheeler is now the only active Winnipeg Jets player who was a part of the Atlanta Thrashers team before relocation.
With only one player left from that Atlanta team, it seemed like a fun task to see how much transformation has happened since the franchise moved north. This first post will show the initial transformation from Thrashers to Jets.
The 2010-11 season saw the Thrashers finish with a 34-36-12 record which put them 4th in their division. They were led by coach Craig Ramsay and captain Andrew Ladd. Ladd also led the team in both goals and points with 29 and 59 respectively. Toby Enstrom led the team in assists with 41 while the club was backstopped by Ondrej Pavelec and Chris Mason throughout the year.
That final Thrashers team had 38 players who played at least one game in the 2010-11 season. Here’s my very crude lineup of those players. (I tried to have the positions as close as possible but I’m sure hardcore Thrashers fans would likely know exactly where each player played.)
And here’s the entire roster sorted by points scored in that season.
This was the final team for Atlanta, but now let’s see how it compares to the first season in Winnipeg.
The green highlighted players are the players from that Atlanta team while the players highlighted in blue were new after the relocation. All total there were 14 new players who played with the Jets in the 2011-12 season. Along with that, there were 14 players from that Atlanta team who never played for the franchise again. That list consists of Boulton, Stewart, Peverly, Bergfors, Modin, Eager, Schremp, Rissmiller, Dvorak, Dawes, Sopel, Meyer, Zubarev, and Welch.
The point of this series is to see what happened to the players that no longer play for the team, so what happened to those 14 guys that didn’t make the transition to Winnipeg?
The easiest answer is that everyone got traded. While that isn’t entirely true, the Thrashers did have a crazy few months in 2011 with six trades made in January and February including three on trade deadline day.
These deals included seven roster players with the most notable being Rich Peverley. This was the deal that brought in the current captain and last player remaining, Blake Wheeler. Other than that, these trades didn’t really work out well in the long-term for the Thrashers.
Alright, so seven of the 14 players were dealt before the end of the season, but what about the other seven players?
Eric Boulton’s contract expired and he re-signed with the New Jersey Devils for two seasons. He ended his career a few years later with the New York Islanders by spending four seasons in New York while only playing 54 games.
Anthony Stewart was also a free agent and he signed with Carolina. He played one season with the Hurricanes before heading overseas to play in numerous different leagues.
Rob Schremp was claimed off waivers by Atlanta midway through the season and he signed with a team in the SHL once the season ended.
Radek Dvorak was a free agent in the summer of 2011 and he chose to sign with the Stars. He played another three seasons before retiring.
On defense, all three of Meyer, Zubarev, and Welch took their talents overseas and none of them appeared in another NHL game.
So there you have it, of the 14 players who didn’t make it to Winnipeg, half of them were traded away before the season ended, three of them signed elsewhere around the league and four of them moved to Europe to play in various other leagues. And that’s how the Thrashers transformed into the Winnipeg Jets.
Now that we have determined where everyone went during the relocation, the next step will be to examine the first roster from the 2011-12 season and begin breaking down each player’s career, both with Winnipeg and what happened to them afterward.