Report: Dustin Byfuglien shipped to Atlanta in blockbuster trade

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Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Buff.jpgNote: This isn’t quite confirmed yet. Keep your eye on PHT for the official word … or the possibility that the trade fell through.

While the salary cap went up higher than many expected – reportedly all the way up to $59.4 million – the Chicago Blackhawks still were forced to move a huge piece (literally and figuratively) in playoff hero Dustin Byfuglien. I first heard of it from a Tweet by Kevin Allen of USA Today, but TSN spells it out in terms of the actual picks and players exchanged in the gigantic deal.

Byfuglien, along with Brent Sopel, Ben Eager and Akim Aliu, will be headed to Atlanta in exchange for the 24th overall pick at the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, the 54th pick, Marty Reasoner and Jeremy Morin.

Wow. Let’s all take a second to soak that one in. OK, now let’s look at it in terms of salary cap terms since that’s obviously what caused this to happen. Keep in mind the Blackhawks also received those draft picks.

Atlanta receives:

Byfuglien ($3 million cap hit through 2010-11 season)

Sopel ($2.33 through 10-11)

Ben Eager (RFA)

Akim Aliu (845K if he’s at the NHL-level)

Chicago receives

Reasoner ($1.15 million through 10-11)

Morin (About $975K through 12-13 if he’s at the NHL-level)

So, the Thrashers get an inconsistent but impact forward in Byfuglien plus a steady, veteran defenseman in Sopel. The Blackhawks save about $4 million on the cap (although they’ll save more if they get rid of Reasoner and less if they keep Reasoner and Morin on the club).

It’s an interesting deal for both teams. The Blackhawks receive draft picks that were originally the New Jersey Devils’ and (perhaps most importantly) valuable cap space in what could be a trying summer. The Thrashers get a huge (though, again, not necessarily dependable) power forward and depth players to boot.

Blackhawks fans might be sad to see “Buffy the Hamburger Slayer” go, but they had to know that someone would be left out in the salary cap mess. For the Thrashers, the Ilya Kovalchuk trade more or less netted them Dustin Byfuglien, Johnny Oduya, Niclas Bergfors, Brent Sopel, Ben Eager and Akim Aliu.

I’m sure that Brandon and Joe will have more on this and/or the other trades as they go down in one has already been a crazy week. Expect things to continue as draft day approaches on Friday.