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Thrashers Acquire Byfuglien in Seven-Player Deal

Wednesday, Jun. 23rd, 2010

The Atlanta Thrashers have acquired forwards Dustin Byfuglien, Ben Eager and Akim Aliu, along with defenseman Brent Sopel from the Chicago Blackhawks for forwards Marty Reasoner, Joey Crabb and Jeremy Morin, as well as a first-round choice (24th overall) and a second-round choice (54th overall) in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, according to General Manager Rick Dudley.

"This deal immediately improves our hockey club and adds valuable size, speed and Stanley Cup experience to our roster," said Dudley. "Dustin Byfuglien is a prototypical power forward and another young, rising star we are adding to our roster. With Brent Sopel and Ben Eager we also get a defensive-minded defenseman who is one of the better penalty killers in the league, and a tough, checking line forward who is an outstanding forchecker. Akim Aliu joins our stable of talented prospects.”

Byfuglien, 25, recorded 16 points (11 goals, five assists) in 22 post-season games while helping lead the Blackhawks to the 2010 Stanley Cup Championship. The 6-4, 255-pound left wing led the NHL in post-season game-winning tallies (five), tied for the league lead in power-play goals (five), and was tied for third in the league and shared the team lead in overall goals. Byfuglien posted 34 points (17 goals, 17 assists) while appearing in all 82 regular-season games with Chicago.

The Minneapolis, Minn., native has earned 109 points (55 goals, 54 assists) in 260 career NHL games with the Blackhawks and has added 25 points (14 goals, 11 assists) in 39 Stanley Cup Playoff games. Byfuglien, who was selected by the Blackhawks in the eighth round (245th overall) of the 2003 NHL Entry Draft, also posted 74 points (26 goals, 48 assists) in 124 career American Hockey League games with Norfolk and Rockford.

Prior to his professional career, Byfuglien played four seasons of junior hockey from 2001 to 2005 with Brandon and Prince George of the Western Hockey League, tallying 142 points (48 goals, 94 assists) in 189 games.

Eager, 26, appeared in 60 games with Chicago last season, earning 16 points (seven goals, nine assists) and a team-leading 120 penalty minutes. He added three points (one goal, two assists) in 18 post-season contests.

The Ottawa, Ontario, native has earned 52 points (27 goals, 25 assists) and 621 penalty minutes in 255 career NHL games with Chicago and Philadelphia. Eager has also posted five points (two goals, three assists) in 37 Stanley Cup Playoff games with the Blackhawks and Flyers. The 6-2, 230-pound left wing tallied 35 points (13 goals, 22 assists) and 509 penalty minutes in 123 career AHL games with the Philadelphia Phantoms. He collected three points (one goal, two assists) in 19 AHL playoff games and helped the Phantoms capture the 2004-05 Calder Cup Championship.

Eager, who was originally selected by the Phoenix Coyotes in the first round (23rd overall) of the 2002 NHL Entry Draft, recorded 139 points (59 goals, 80 assists) in 243 career Ontario Hockey League games with the Oshawa Generals from 2000 to 2004. He also tallied four points (one goal, three assists) for Team Canada at the 2002 Under-18 World Junior Championship.

Sopel, 33, appeared in 73 regular-season games for the Blackhawks last season, posting eight points (one goal, seven assists). The 6-1, 200-pound defenseman added six points (one goal, five assists) in 22 Stanley Cup Playoff games. His plus-seven rating in the playoffs tied for fifth on the Blackhawks and 11th in the NHL.

The Calgary, Alberta, native has earned 211 points (42 goals, 169 assists) in 588 career NHL games with Vancouver, the NY Islanders, Los Angeles and Chicago. He also posted 105 points (26 goals, 79 assists) in 182 games with the AHL’s Syracuse Crunch and tallied one assist in four games with Kansas City of the now-defunct International Hockey League.

Prior to his professional career, Sopel collected 155 points (35 goals, 120 assists) in 207 games with Saskatoon and Swift Current of Western Hockey League from 1993 to 1997. He was originally selected by Vancouver in the sixth round, 144th overall, of the 1995 NHL Entry Draft.

Aliu, 21, tallied 17 points (11 goals, six assists) in 48 AHL games last season with the Rockford IceHogs. He also earned 14 points (five goals, nine assists) in 13 ECHL games with the Toledo Walleye.

The 6-3, 225-pound center has posted 19 points (13 goals, six assists) in 55 career AHL games with Rockford. Prior to his professional career the Okene, Nigeria, native played four seasons of junior hockey from 2005 to 2009 with Sudbury and London of the Ontario Hockey League, recording 167 points (76 goals, 91 assists) in 205 games.

Aliu was selected by Chicago in the second round, 56th overall, of the 2007 NHL Entry Draft.

Reasoner, 33, appeared in 80 games for the Thrashers last season, tallying 17 points (four goals, 13 assists). The 6-1, 205-pound center tallied 47 points (18 goals, 29 assists) in 159 games after signing with the Thrashers as a free agent prior to the 2008-09 season.

The Honeoye Falls, N.Y., native has earned 223 points (82 goals, 141 assists) in 624 career NHL games with St. Louis, Edmonton, Boston and Atlanta. He also posted eight points (two goals, six assists) in 23 career Stanley Cup Playoff games with St. Louis and Edmonton.

Reasoner, who was selected by St. Louis in the first round (14th overall) of the 1996 NHL Entry Draft, appeared in 124 AHL games with the Worcester IceCats and Hamilton Bulldogs, tallying 127 points (57 goals, 70 assists). In addition, Reasoner has represented the United States five times in International Competition, including the IIHF World Championships (2002, 2003, 2006) and the IIHF World Junior Championship (1996 and 1997).

Prior to his professional career, Reasoner played three years for Boston College, collecting 162 points (69 goals, 93 assists) in 111 games.

Crabb, 27, recorded 53 points (24 goals, 29 assists) in 79 games last season with the Chicago Wolves of the AHL. He ranked third on the team in goals and was tied for fourth in points. The 6-1, 190-pound right wing added 11 points (six goals, five assists) in 14 Calder Cup Playoff games.

The Anchorage, Alaska, native has posted nine points (four goals, five assists) in 20 career NHL games with the Thrashers and has 139 points (55 goals, 84 assists) in 256 career AHL games with Chicago.

Crabb was originally selected by the NY Rangers in the seventh round, 226th overall, of the 2002 NHL Entry Draft.

Morin, 19, registered 83 points (47 goals, 36 assists) in 58 games with the Kitchener Rangers last season, his first in the OHL. The 6-1, 190-pound left wing ranked fourth in the OHL and second on the team in goals, and was third on his team in points. He added 21 points (12 goals, nine assists) in 20 OHL post-season games. The Auburn, N.Y., native also represented the United States at the 2010 IIHF World Junior Championship, recording seven points (two goals, five assists) in seven games while helping his team to the Gold Medal.

Morin was selected by the Thrashers in the second round, 45th overall, of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft.

Additionally, the Thrashers will send two choices in the 2010 Entry Draft to the Blackhawks, including a first-round choice (24th overall) and a second-round selection (54th overall).



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