CHICAGO - MAY 21: Adam Burish #37 of the Chicago Blackhawks checks Kent Huskins #40 of the San Jose Sharks into the Blackhawks bench in the first period of Game Three of the Western Conference Finals during the 2010 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the United Center on May 21, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Blackhawks Lose More Pieces Of The Stanley Cup Team

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Blackhawks Trade Andrew Ladd To Thrashers

From the Canadian Press:

The Blackhawks traded forward Andrew Ladd to the Atlanta Thrashers on Thursday, a day after dealing forward Kris Versteeg to Toronto.

Last week, Chicago sent playoff star Dustin Byfuglien, Brent Sopel and Ben Eager to Atlanta and shipped Colin Fraser to Edmonton.

For Ladd, who was a restricted free agent, the Blackhawks acquired defenceman Ivan Vishnevskiy and a second-round pick in 2011.

About Vishnevskiy (for those of you who couldn’t spell “Byfuglien”, here’s another one to mangle), the article says:

Vishnevskiy, 22, had two assists in five games with the Dallas Stars over the past two seasons. He spent most of last season in the American Hockey League with the Texas Stars and Chicago Wolves. He was acquired by the Thrashers from the Stars last February.


Blackhawks Free Agent Adam Burish Signs With Stars

Via NBC Sports, we learn that Adam Burish has signed with the Dallas Stars for $2.3 million. The article makes this cogent observation:

While the Dallas Stars feature a nice collection of productive forwards, they could use a little more elbow grease. Adam Burish could flourish if he’s the “dirty work” guy on a talented Stars line, much like he often did in Chicago (when he wasn’t in the doghouse).

It does, however, show the interesting effect a championship can have on the reputations of its support players. Teams must wrestle with logical tug-of-wars, particularly this debate: would Player X thrive with bigger minutes or does he just seem more promising because he was part of a great organization?

Will Burish have the same impact on the Stars as he had on the Hawks? And will the Hawks be able to replace him? Stay tuned.


Hawks GM Stan Bowman On The Versteeg Trade

Everyone knew, even moments after the Hawks won the Stanley Cup, that they’d have to make major deals due to salary cap issues. GM Stan Bowman explains further:

’’I’ve tried to warn our fans that this team that they’ve fallen in love with wasn’t going to stay together,‘’ Bowman said. "But no championship team does. It’s kind of the nature of the world that we’re in. We’re doing the best we can to keep our core together, to make sure that we’re going to maintain ourselves as a competitive team year-to-year and to give ourselves the flexibility to go into a number of different directions. We’ve certainly done that."

Bowman also talks about one of the players acquired, Viktor Stalberg:

Stalberg, 24, is the only one of the three acquired players with NHL experience. He made his debut last season, leading Toronto rookies with nine goals and 14 points in 40 games. Paradis is a former first-round selection of the Carolina Hurricanes in 2009.

“We’re very high on the three players we acquired,” Bowman said. "They bring different things to the table, each one of them. They’re at different points of their progression. Stalberg is an NHL player. We love his speed, his size. We think he’s going to complement some of the great playmakers on our team.

“In the game today, you have to be able to skate, and he’s got the size and the skating. I think when you put him with some guys that can make plays, he’s got a lot of potential. The two young kids that we got have a little bit of everything in terms of competitiveness, skill [and] physical play. They battle hard.”


A Toronto View Of The Versteeg Deal

Via the Toronto Sun, here’s more about the players the Blackhawks acquired:

Toronto gives up forwards Viktor Stalberg, Chris DiDomenico and Philippe Paradis, while also getting back the rights to left winger Bill Sweatt, a Hawks’ second round pick from 2007.

Stalberg bounced between the minors and the Leafs this year, Paradis was acquired from Carolina for Jiri Tlusty and did not see NHL action, while DiDomenico was hurt all year.


Blackhawks Trade Versteeg To Toronto

Wow — didn’t see this one coming:

Faced with serious salary cap issues, the Chicago Blackhawks traded away another contributor to the Stanley Cup title team, shipping Kris Versteeg to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday.

The Leafs also received forward Bill Sweatt for forwards Viktor Stalberg, Chris DiDomenico and Philippe Paradis.

Obviously, salary cap issues forced this trade; this will get the Hawks closer to the number they need to be at, and allow a raise for Antti Niemi.


Hawks Make Qualifying Offers To Ladd And Niemi

According to reports from the Sun-Times and Chicago Breaking Sports, both restricted agents Andrew Ladd and Antti Niemi have received qualifying offers from the Blackhawks. Niklas Hjalmarsson has also reportedly also received a qualifying offer. While this keeps both Ladd and Niemi from becoming unrestricted free agents, it does not keep the Hawks from trading them to keep within salary cap guidelines.

Ladd has surfaced in trade rumors, and he was a hot topic during the NHL draft Friday in Los Angeles. He still can be moved despite receiving the qualifying offer.

If Ladd, Niemi or Hjalmarsson received offer sheets from other teams and opted to sign elsewhere, the Hawks would receive draft-pick compensation.

Teams have until 5pm Eastern time today to submit their offers. After 5pm, restricted free agents become unrestricted free agents.


Hawks GM Stan Bowman Talks About The Trade

Via this Sun-Times blog, GM Stan Bowman discusses yesterday’s blockbuster trade with the Thrashers on a late-night conference call. Among key points:

SB: "First and foremost, [Byfuglien] was a pretty really talented player. In some ways, he was more of skill player than anything else. He had really good hands. He was a big body but I think, first and foremost, he could play the game which is something we’ve always stressed. If you’re big and tough and you can play, that’s great. But if you’re big and tough and you struggle to be able to handle the puck or be able to skate than you’re not as much use to a team like us.

“We’re going to have some guys from within emerge with some bigger roles. We kind of saw that emerge as the year wore on. A guy like [Tomas] Kopecky, who most of the year was on the fourth line and even in and out of the lineup a little bit, [but] by the end of the playoffs he was playing on a top line. He’s a big strong guy. He’s physical. He goes to the net. I think a guy like Kopecky is going to have a bigger role next season. I think I mentioned Bickell and there is some other young guys, [Jack] Skille and those kind of guys. I think we’ll have Jake Dowell in the lineup. He’s certainly going to get a chance to play on our team. He brings a lot of that rugged play as well. We’re going to have to look at the free-agent market and trades as well. We’re going to have some openings. We are going to have to address that.”


REPORT: Blackhawks' Colin Fraser Dealt To Oilers

Via this tweet from Edmonton radio reporter Dan Tencer:

Oilers deal a 6th round pick to Chicago for RFA centerman Colin Fraser. Thanks to Stauffer for confirming Oilers end of the deal.

Tencer updated information in this later tweet:

Just confirmed (at 1:19am LA time if you’re keeping track) that the pick going to Chicago for Fraser is #151…the Oilers’ own 6th rounder.


Duncan Keith Wins Norris Trophy

On a night when the Blackhawks are making big news due to the Byfuglien trade (not yet officially announced), one of the Hawks who willl be back next year, Duncan Keith, won the Norris Trophy as this past season’s best defenseman:

Keith received 76 of 133 first-place votes and 1,096 points to edge Mike Green of the Washington Capitals, who garnered 34 first-place votes and 831 points to earn a second-place finish in Norris Trophy voting for the second consecutive season.

Playing all 82 games for the third time in his five-year NHL career, Keith logged a total of 2,180:34 in ice time, the most among all NHL players. Having steadily increased his production each year, he took his offense to another level this season, registering career highs in goals (14), assists (55) and points (69). Keith ranked second to Washington’s Mike Green among NHL defensemen in assists and points. He posted a plus-21 rating and is plus-84 over the past three seasons.

Keith is the fourth Blackhawks defenseman to capture the Norris Trophy since it was first presented in 1954, joining Pierre Pilote (1963 through 1965), Doug Wilson (1982) and Chris Chelios (1993 and 1996).


ANALYSIS: Blackhawks Trade Done To Keep Sharp And Versteeg

Steve Rosenbloom, not normally known for analysis like this, has a very good take on the deal in the Tribune:

Hawks general manager Stan Bowman is acting like a trader in the pit, selling when his asset had the most value and protecting those with a greater upside. Without getting into mind-numbing math, the salaries of Byfuglien, Kris Versteeg and Patrick Sharp appeared to dictate that at least one of them would have to go. All of them came up big in the postseason of a lifetime. Nobody wanted any of them to go. But if it had to be one of them, the best move would be Byfuglien.

Not to diminish his contributions, starting the playoffs on the blue line, then moving up front and terrorizing Vancouver again before exacting revenge on Chris Pronger and the Flyers in Games 5 and 6 of the Stanley Cup finals, but Byfuglien isn’t as fast as Sharp and Versteeg, a big factor in the Hawks’ puck-possession game.

Byfuglien had a strong start to the season because he had to get in shape early for the U.S. Olympic camp, but he fell off and lost his spot on the top line to Troy Brouwer.

By comparison, Sharp can play center and wing, and kills penalties and works the point on the power play. He’s way too valuable to coach Joel Quenneville’s penchant for playing toy soldiers.

Versteeg is a high-wire act with a great shot who also showed some supreme checking abilities when placed on Dave Bolland’s line, qualities the Hawks appear to value more than Byfuglien’s.

The Hawks had to clear cap space, and Stan Bowman’s a good hockey mind. He appears to be off to a good start.


Dustin Byfuglien Has Yet To Hear He Was Traded

Blackhawks’ fan favorite Dustin Byfuglien was reportedly traded Wednesday afternoon, though he he hasn’t heard from anyone confirming the deal.

Chris Kuc, hockey writer for the Chicago Tribune, tweeted the following Wednesday evening.

Dustin Byfuglien’s agent says he nor Byfuglien have heard from #Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman or #Thrashers GM Rick Dudley about the trade.

This doesn’t necessarily mean the trade isn’t complete, but wouldn’t it make sense to reach out to the centerpiece of the trade and let him know he’s on the move?


Marty Reasoner Talks About Becoming A Blackhawk

From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

“You can’t beat going to a team that just won the Stanley Cup. I’m pretty excited.”

“It’s always a little shocking to be traded, but we’ve been through it before.”

“I would have liked to have stayed in Atlanta another year and help that team build, but it’s a new chapter. It will be exciting. You can tell from watching the playoffs that the Blackhawks have taken over the city.”

“[My time in Atlanta] was good. I met a lot of great people. … I think you learn a lot about yourself when you are in different situations and I definitely learned a lot about myself there. I will always have fond memories. My daughter was born there. … You become part of the community even if it’s a short amount of time. But we signed up for this.”


Blackhawks May Not Be Done Dealing

From James Mirtle at the Globe and Mail:

Byfuglien, Sopel and Eager were set to make roughly $6.33-million this season once Eager, a restricted free agent, was signed to a new contract. Chicago took back only Reasoner’s NHL salary in the deal ($1.15-million), meaning the Blackhawks have freed up close to $5-million.

Chicago, however, only has 13 players signed for next season and will likely need to move more salary to sign other RFAs like netminder Antti Niemi and fill out the rest of its roster.


Thrashers Fans: Thumbs Down On Deal

From the mothership,, quoting SB Nation’s Thrashers site Bird Watchers Anonymous:

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 forwards 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.


Trade Awaits NHL Approval


The first- and second-round picks that Chicago get in the deal were acquired by Atlanta in the trade that sent Ilya Kovalchuk to New Jersey last February.

The deal is pending a call to the league for approval.


Cap Space Is Reason For Blackhawks Trade

This tweet explains the reason for the deal:

Guys, we just unloaded $5.33m, and now we’ve got at least 4 picks in the first 2 rounds of the draft.


Blackhawks And Thrashers Reported To Make Major Deal

More information via TSN Canada:

Dustin Byfuglien, one of the breakout players for the Stanley Cup-winning Blackhawks last season, is in the process of being traded to the Thrashers, pending a trade call.

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.


BREAKING: Blackhawks Clear Cap Space In Blockbuster Trade; Byfuglien, Eager, Sopel Dealt

Via tweet from Kevin Allen of USA Today, President of the Professional Hockey Writers Association, the Blackhawks have sent three of the major players of their Stanley Cup Championship team to the New Jersey Devils:

Byfuglien, Sopel, Eager to Atlanta for first round pick (New Jersey's), 2nd round pick (new jersey's), Reasoner and Jeremy Morin.

The first round pick received is Atlanta's #24 pick in the draft, not New Jersey's #8.

More details as they come.

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