Byfuglien and Sopel Sent to Atlanta Thrashers

| by Off The Record

While Dustin Byfuglien didn’t do much against the Philadelphia Flyers in the Stanley Cup Final, he did help the Chicago Blackhawks tremendously in their journey to that point. And yesterday, they rewarded him by trading him to the Atlanta Thrashers, along with Brent Sopel and a bunch of others.

They sent Byfuglien, center Ben Eager, defenseman Brent Sopel and prospect Akim Aliu, a second-round pick in 2007, to Atlanta for the first-round pick (No. 24) Atlanta acquired from New Jersey in the Ilya Kovalchuk trade, a second-round pick (No. 54) that also came from New Jersey, prospect Jeremy Morin, veteran forward Marty Reasoner and winger Joseph Crabb,

Got all that?

“He’s a special player,” Hawks GM Stan Bowman said of Byfuglien. “There’s a few different ways you can make up for the loss of him. He’s a great player and we’re certainly going to miss him. I don’t think there’s one guy who can replicate what Buff did.”

The Blackhawks simply had too much salary and everyone knew they had to make a move to get some breathing room. Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews were clearly safe, no one was worried about them. But Byfuglien was expendable and had some trade value. Not like that idiot Adam Burish.

Byfuglien seems to be taking it all in stride.

“It is what it is,” Byfuglien said on ESPN 1000 in Chicago. “It’s part of the job. You’re not going to stick in one spot the whole time, so I’ve got to go.”

“What we saw in the playoffs is the Dustin Byfuglien I imagined and who could become one of the league’s elite power forwards,” Thrashers GM Rick Dudley said. “He has soft hands and he is as big a player as there is in the NHL. That combination is attractive.”