When you are in a salary cap position like Chicago was in, with names like Patrick Sharp being dangled as trade bait around the league, you’d have to expect a more one-sided deal than this one. Oddly enough, the GM Stan Bowman’s Hawks actually come out as a slight winner in a deal of “ifs”.
Atlanta gave up John Madden-replacement Marty Reasoner, Jeremy Morin, a first and second-rounder for Dustin Byfuglien, veteran Brent Sopel, gritty Ben Eager and Akim Aliu. The underlying motive for this deal isn’t an exchange for talent, but to help Chicago get some cap room and help Atlanta move some players to get under the maximum roster size of 50 players. To complete the deal, Atlanta sent minor leaguers Brett Sterling, Michael Vernace, and a 7th rounder to the Sharks.
If you had to pick any names off of that Stanley Cup winning roster to dump, you’d easily name Dustin Byfuglien’s $3-million and Brent Sopel’s $2.3-million cap hits. Byfuglien’s value is significantly inflated from his most recent playoff performance but any Chicago fan knows he’s immensely overpaid for his regular season performance. He’ll find a home in Atlanta’s top-six but you’d have to think this money would be better spent on somebody to get the puck to the net that he’d be standing in front of. Fortunately, the Thrashers have a good amount of cap space but there’s doubts as to if Atlanta is willing to spend to the cap.
However, Bowman looks even better after snagging Jeremy Morin, 83-points in 58 OHL games, and Atlanta’s 24th-overall pick (from New Jersey) and the 54th-overall pick (previously swapped with New Jersey) in this year’s draft. If there’s any team that best resembles the need to build from within, it’s the (mostly) homegrown Blackhawks and the Thrashers essentially just add fuel to that fire while taking a cut out of their current talent pool. Akim Aliu helps bring more size but 17 points in 48 games in the AHL show he’s had trouble adjusting to life after the OHL – maybe playing in the same division as hazer Steve Downie will spark some surge to the big league.
That being said, unless you are in a deep league, nobody in this trade should be on your fantasy radar unless Byfuglien’s playoff performance carries into next season. His powerplay time will likely warrant some looks but if he couldn’t put up regular season numbers with guys like Toews and Kane, will Antropov and Bergfors get him there?