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Thrashers Blockbuster Trade with Chicago

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According to Pierre Lebrun

Hawks trade Byfuglien, Eager, Sopel and prospect to Thrashers for 1st-round pick, a 2nd-round pick, prospect Jeremy Morin and M. Reasoner

Does not involve the Thrashers #8 overall according to Bob McKenzie

Chicago to send Byfuglien, Sopel, Eager and Akim Aliu to Atl for 24th overall pick, 54th overall pick, Marty Reasoner and Jeremy Morin.

My initial reaction is disappointment frankly. I wanted to see the Thrashers land Patrick Sharp, not the players headed Atlanta's way. Byfuglien is a defenseman converted to forward who has been rather inconsistent so far as a forward. He had a terrific playoffs and the Hawks sold him high. Eager is a checking line player who already makes $1 million. Sopel is an overpaid 2nd/3rd pairing defenseman with just one year left before he is a free agent. Akim Aliu is a physical checking forward who had issues in junior hockey.

So the Thrashers just added a 2nd line winger, three checkers and a bottom half defenseman and a bunch of salary for a 1st rounder, 2nd rounder, prospect taken in the 2nd round (Morin) and a solid veteran and potential team captain (Reasoner). At the moment I'm underwhelmed and hope these guys look better in a Thrashers uniform than they do on paper.

Now it goes without saying that GM Rick Dudley has watched these four guys play many many games and knows them as well as any GM would know a group of players he just traded for. So I'm willing to give him some benefit of the doubt, but I can't help think that failing to get more top six talent was a mistake. Finding checking line players is not so difficult. Trading a potential 2nd liner (Morin) for a current 2nd liner (Byfuglien) seems like a lateral move--unless Dudley had bid doubts about Morin's skating keeping him from becoming a NHL regular.

On the plus side, if you're tired of non-physical "hit 'em with your purse" style hockey--well that is finally over in Atlanta. With Byfuglien, Aliu, Cormier, Klingberg and Pettersson on the way and Evander Kane already in the lineup--the Thrashers are going to be checking the snot out of the opposition under Rick Dudley. Welcome to physical hockey Atlanta!

Thrashers Salary Cap Situation

I've included my estimates for what the Thrashers RFA's will receive in the table below. Even with pay raises to the 5 RFA the Thrashers would still start the season at just $41.2 in cap hit which would be below the floor, so Rick Dudley is not finished, he will need to add more salary.


Pos Player Cap $
F1 Antropov 4.06
F1 Bergfors 2.20 est.
F1 Little 2.20 est.
F2 Kane, E 0.90 elc
F2 Peverley 1.33
F2 Byfuglien 3.00
F3 Machacek 0.86 elc
F3 Cormier 0.88 elc
F3 Pettersson 0.62
F4 Slater 1.15
F4 Eager 1.20 est.
F4 Thorburn 0.66
FB White, T 2.38
D1 Hainsey 4.50
D1 Enstrom 3.75
D2 Oduya 3.50
D2 Bogosian 0.88 elc
D3 Kulda 0.76
D4 Valabik 0.52
DB Sopel 2.33
G1 Pavelec 2.50 est.
G2 Mannino 0.55
BX MacArthur 0.50
Total 41.21


With the departure of Kovalchuk, Afinogenov, and Armstrong the Thrashers are going to see some decline in their Goals For, the biggest question is whether adding these more physical players will generate more turnovers and therefore more Goals For. Can Bergfors and Evander Kane take another step up in their scoring rates in their sophamore seasons. Will the PP be better with a guy like Bfyuglien as an element out there? How much better will the defense be this next year? Certainly the team needs someone who can share the load with Pavelec.

More Reaction/Thoughts

Marty Reasoner was Atlanta's best PKer all last season. That PK still ranked in the bottom half of the NHL. If they think that Slater can fill all those minutes I am afraid, very afraid of seeing far too many goals lights flashing behind Pavelec next year.

I'm always harping about the age curve. On this trade the Thrashers deal away an old Marty Reasoner (33) and a young Morin (19) and two picks (18) for Byfuglien (25), Eager (26), Sopel (33) and Aliu (21). The Thrashers receive one guy on wrong side of 30 and three guys headed into their peak years. They give up one older guy and three prospects who are still a while from reaching their peak hockey years.

Gade Desjardins points out why Byfuglien is going to be over-rated by people who only paid attention to his playoff performance. Lots of very favorable shifts and very favorable linemates.

You can check out the Chicagoland reaction at 2nd City Hockey.