That was a doozy of a trade that went down last night, right? In case you missed it, the Blackhawks shipped Dustin Byfuglien (1 year, $3 million cap hit), Brent Sopel (1 year, $2.3 million cap hit), Ben Eager (RFA, $1 million cap hit), and prospect Akim Aliu to Atlanta in exchange for a first round pick (originally the Devils pick, 24th overall), a second round pick (54th overall), Marty Reasoner (1 year, $1.15 million), Joey Crabb (UFA, $600,000) and prospect Jeremy Morin.
This deal was a necessary evil for both teams, and both teams came out winners here. For the Hawks, they gain much needed cap space, while gaining two additional picks in the top 55, a legit prospect in Morin (first round pick in 2009), and a cheap depth forward in Reasoner. Losing Byfuglien hurts, but the cap space created will help them fill out their roster needs. Sopel was a depth defenseman, and at $2.3 million, was expendable. The Hawks still need to clear some cap space, and many expect Kris Versteeg to be the next guy on his way out. The Hawks are reluctant to trade Patrick Sharp, citing depth at center as something they want to keep.
As for Atlanta, they still have their own first round pick (7th overall), so they were dealing from a strength there. They also picked up veteran leadership in Sopel, and some scoring depth to add to Nik Antropov, Evander Kane, and Rich Peverley. Of course, the Thrashers have about $30 million in cap space to work with this offseason, so they can very quickly add to any needs this team has (there are a bunch). The Thrashers may not be a legitimate Cup contender yet, but in a weak Southeast, these moves may help them sneak into the playoffs next season.