Thursday, June 24, 2010

Byfuglien on the move in multi-player deal

by Bob Herpen
The Phanatic Magazine

Stanley Cup playoff hero Dustin Byfuglien has changed teams as the hulking forward was traded from the Chicago Blackhawks to the Atlanta Thrashers as part of a seven-player deal approved by the NHL on Thursday.

The Thrashers also acquired forwards Ben Eager and Akim Aliu, along with defenseman Brent Sopel for forwards Marty Reasoner, Joey Crabb and Jeremy Morin, as well as a first-round choice (24th overall) and a second-round choice (54th overall) in tomorrow's NHL draft.

Byfuglien, who was a presence in front of the net and had memorable battles with Flyers defenseman Chris Pronger, tied for the team lead in goals for the Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks with 11.

The Thrashers also traded defenseman Mike Vernace, forward Brett Sterling and a seventh-round selection (188th overall) in this year's draft to the San Jose Sharks for future considerations. Atlanta made that move for roster flexibility with regards to the deal with the Blackhawks.

The 25-year-old Byfuglien recorded 16 points in 22 postseason games. He also posted 34 points (17 goals, 17 assists) while appearing in all 82 regular- season tilts with Chicago.

Eager, a former Philadelphia Flyers winger, appeared in 60 games with Chicago last season, picking up seven goals and nine assists along with a team-leading 120 penalty minutes. The 33-year-old Sopel had a goal and seven assists in 73 games for the Blackhawks last season.

Aliu, 21, tallied 11 goals and six assists in 48 AHL games last season with the Rockford IceHogs. He was selected by Chicago in the second round of the 2007 draft.

Reasoner, an 11-year veteran out of Boston College, appeared in 80 games for the Thrashers last season, notching four goals and 13 assists. His arrival presumably means the end of John Madden's tenure with the 'Hawks as Reasoner's contract is lighter than any deal the three-time Cup champion and unrestricted free agent could ask for.

Crabb had 24 goals and 29 assists in 79 games last season with the Chicago Wolves of the AHL, while Morin registered 47 goals and 36 assists in 58 games with the Kitchener Rangers last season, his first in the OHL.

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