Fun fact about tonight's Rangers opponent -- 11 of the 23 players on the Atlanta roster are former first-round draft picks.
That includes two 19-year-olds, 2009 first-rounder Evander Kane and 2010 first-rounder Alex Burmistrov. Kane, who leads the Thrashers with five goals, is here for the long haul; Atlanta has a decision to make with Burmistrov, who will play his ninth game tonight and then will either stay for the season or go back to Barrie of the Ontario League.
First, to Kane: The very fast, very slightly built left wing had a solid rookie year (14-12 and +2 in 66 games) under John Anderson, but said he's liking new coach Craig Ramsay's tutelage more.
"It's more what I was used to in the past, in juniors. It's a more set-in-stone system," Kane said. "(Ramsay) lets you do what you want from the blue line to the end line (in the offensive zone), but it's more strict in the other areas and that's something I like. I'm being put in a position to succeed."
Ramsay is a rookie himself, at 59 -- his first non-interim head coaching gig after 25 years as an assistant, including six with John Tortorella in Tampa -- and he likes what he's seen from Kane. He wants more.
"We know he can skate and we know he can shoot," Ramsay said. "I'd like to see him do a bit more in every situation, in terms of communication. We're very pleased with the way he's handled himself. Now, he has to continue to improve to really be with that elite group."
Burmistrov, the No. 8 pick this year, has no points yet, which would seem to mean he's destined to return to juniors. Not so, says Ramsay.
"That's a management decision, but he's a wonderful kid. He's got a real bubbly personality," Ramsay said. "He's done everything we've asked: He works, he battles, he's responsible. The only thing he hasn't done is put the points up."
Burmistrov is averaging 14:39 a game on the ice, more than former Ranger Nik Antropov, who was a healthy scratch in Washington on Saturday.
Chris Mason gets the start in goal for the Thrashers, who are 3-4-1 thus far.