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Thursday, June 24, 2010

Blackhawks Trade Byfuglien, Sopel to Thrashers in Multi-Player Deal

The Atlanta Thrashers announced early Thursday that they have acquired left wing Dustin Byfuglien, defenseman Brent Sopel, left wing Ben Eager, and prospect right wing Akim Aliu from the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for center Marty Reasoner, prospect left wing Jeremy Morin, right wing Joey Crabb, and the 24th and 54th overall picks in the 2010 Entry Draft. The two picks Chicago gets in the deal were acquired from New Jersey in the trade that sent Ilya Kovalchuk to the New Jersey Devils. In all 82 games last season with the Blackhawks, Byfuglien had 17 goals and 17 assists for 34 points and 94 penalty minutes. He also added 11 goals and five assists for 16 points in 22 playoff games. Sopel had one goal and seven assists for eight points in 73 games, while Eager had seven goals and nine assists for 16 points and 120 penalty minutes in 60 games. Aliu had 11 goals and six assists for 17 points in 48 games with Rockford of the AHL. He also appeared in 13 games with Toledo of the ECHL, scoring five goals and nine assists for 14 points.

Reasoner appeared in 80 games with the Thrashers last season, scoring four goals and 13 assists for 17 points. Morin played in 58 games with Kitchener of the OHL, scoring 47 goals and 36 assists for 83 points, while Crabb had 24 goals and 29 assists for 53 points in 79 games with Chicago of the AHL.

It's not a bad move for both teams. The Thrashers get a decent forward in Byfuglien, who can also play defense. He has plenty of offensive potential and can play a little physical. Sopel will give Atlanta some veteran depth on the blueline, while Eager brings some toughness to the team. They get a decent prospect in Aliu, who has some scoring potential and some toughness. For the Blackhawks, it is essentially a salary dumping trade, as they are currently operating at the salary cap ceiling and still have to re-sign Antti Niemi, Niklas Hjalmarsson, and Andrew Ladd, who has been the subject of trade rumors recently. Adding Marty Reasoner gives the team an experienced center, while Jeremy Morin gives the Blackhawks a talented prospect forward. Crabb is an unrestricted free agent on July 1 and it remains to be seen if the Blackhawks have any plans on signing him. The two draft picks will give the team an opportunity to add more future talent to the organization. This trade will free up about $4 million in cap space for the Blackhawks, which will give them some relief, but they may have to move some more salary to comfortably fit all their players under the salary cap.

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