Best trade in franchise history? It just might be Byfuglien deal

I posed this thought on Twitter during Sunday night’s game: Is the trade that brought Dustin Byfuglien, and others, to the Thrashers the greatest in franchise history?

I was accused by a few of hyperbole. However …

* Byfuglien leads the Thrashers in scoring with 25 points through 24 games. He is also tied for the team lead with nine goals. He had 34 regular-season points all of last season with Chicago.

*After his goal against the Bruins, he leads the NHL with five game-winners. Two have come in overtime.

* He leads all NHL defensemen in points and goals.

* He leads all NHL defensemen with power-play goals (4) and is tied, with teammate Tobias Enstrom, atop the league in power-play points (13) by a defenseman.

* His four-point performance Sunday tied Jaroslav Modry’s franchise record for points in a game by a defenseman, set Dec. 26, 2005. Look at the four points. He assisted on Evander Kane’s goal by taking the puck into the offensive zone, circling all the way around the boards, before a cross-ice pass. He assisted on Jim Slater’s goal by stealing the puck along the boards instead of going for a big hit. He assisted on Niclas Bergfor’s power-play goal with a shot on net from deep inside the offensive zone. His goal was another demonstration of his wicked wrist shot.

* He is currently one of two alternate captains, along with Enstrom.

Remember, the Thrashers obtained Byfuglien, along with Ben Eager, Brent Sopel and prospect Akim Aliu, for Marty Reasoner, Joey Crabb, prospect Jeremy Morin and one of their two first-round picks in 2010.

I thought for a minute about the trade for Marian Hossa, but the Thrashers gave up Dany Heatley in that deal. The Thrashers went to the playoffs with Hossa, but Heatley went on to have two 50-goal seasons with Ottawa.

Several folks mentioned the Ilya Kovalchuk trade to New Jersey as the best. It brought Bergfors, Johnny Oduya, prospect Patrice Cormier and the first-round pick used in the Chicago deal. It also cleared the way for the deals that brought the former Blackhawks, including newly-named captain Andrew Ladd is a separate deal, to Atlanta.

Let me know what you think. Is the offseason trade with Chicago a franchise turning point? Or, as some suggest, it’s hyperbole?

56 comments Add your comment


November 29th, 2010
9:07 am


When I read your blog title, the first thing that popped into my head was, “What about the Savard trade?” You have to admit that obtaining Savvy for Ruslan Zainullin was a steal and gave the Thrashers’ their first ever 1st line center. Without him, would the Thrash have made the playoffs?

What about the Andrew Ladd trade (for Vish and a 2nd round pick). Obtaining your Captain (hopefully for years to come) is nothing to scoff at.


November 29th, 2010
9:07 am

Everything that led up to it. Trading Kovy, and then making the deals with Chicago. All that as a whole was a turning point for this team.


November 29th, 2010
9:11 am

It’s hard to argue against the Byfuglien trade as being the most important one in Thrashers history. One could argue trading Kovy was just as important considering he is a one pitch pony player. Look at NJ if you need evidence. To all the fans, I know Atlanta isn’t a great sports city, but let’s fill up the arena this is a good team. Go Thrash!


November 29th, 2010
9:12 am

When I read the head line my first thought was why in the world would we want to trade Buff!?

Its Monday . . . after a long weekend . . .


November 29th, 2010
9:20 am

I think trading Waddell for Dudley was by far the best trade the Thrashers ever made.

Chris Vivlamore

November 29th, 2010
9:26 am

FormerIslesFan: Both good calls. Saw you on KissCam during Montreal game.

thebighairybeast: Not that long of a weekend. Poor headline. I changed it. Thanks.


November 29th, 2010
9:27 am

Good discussion topic Chris – a little too early to tell but I think it could end up being that way. Has Jeremy Roenick issued any more comments on how stupid it is to move Buff to D?


November 29th, 2010
9:31 am

The Kovy trade has changed the team for the better. Kovy was a great draw and a good guy but he was not a complete player nor Captain material. Just imagine where we would be if he said yes to the largest contract offer in NHL history? Atlanta lucked out which gave Dudley the flexibility to make the deal for players he knew would help this team. Winners, who the Blackhawks could not fit in cap. Saying all that, if Buff gets signed long term which is a big if with this ownership crew, then the trade to get him would leap to the top of the list in my mind.


November 29th, 2010
9:33 am

Are all of these guys one year rentals?


November 29th, 2010
9:34 am

Little early for analysis – let the year play out and then evaluate. However, in the short term it’s been tremendous. Hope this continues and confirms your theory.

Your Mammy

November 29th, 2010
9:37 am

Kovalchuk has turned into a disease, I am so glad the devils payed him his 110 million or whatever that obscene deal was. He can suck up their salary, and suck on the rink…I am all for that! I am glad we dumped him when we did. Byuff is awesome, a true face of the franchise. I hope we sign him long term.

blueland in statesboro

November 29th, 2010
9:38 am

The kovey trade was definatly critical to pulling off this trade. Without that trade we have to use our first pick in the trade and don’t get Burmistrov. I can’t wait to see what he will be like whe he fills out develops into the beast that he looks like he will turn seein him hustling allover the ice and trying to play the defence that our old russian star wouldn’t play

B's Fan in Penguin Territory

November 29th, 2010
10:04 am

I am the the type of person you Thrasher fans typically hate: a Northerner who constantly questions why a city like Atlanta even has an NHL team. I just read this blog entry and caught the highlights of your Thrash spanking my Bruins … It’s a nice development for the NHL to see the Thrashers playing well. Even if it’s a “non traditional market” I love seeing this team finally gain some traction.


November 29th, 2010
10:15 am

Where is that loud mouthed imbecile Jeremy Roenick now?

Go Thrashers.


November 29th, 2010
10:15 am

what if asg not to sign him to a big deserved contract. “sorry dud no money available” it’s difficult to surprise everybody in hockey world with asg cheapest ownership. so after contract extension yes it’s best trade, before just rental.


November 29th, 2010
10:55 am

Nah. Best trade was for Savard. Gave up nothing for a guy that would go on to record a 97 point season for the Thrashers.

Sherry Taylor

November 29th, 2010
11:14 am

The Kovalchuk began the turn, but the Chicago trade completed it. What a different team this is now, no ‘diva’s, no glory hawgs, just a team. What a concept! Right now, Rick Dudley and Craig Ramsey are looking like the smartest guys in the league. After 11 years sitting in the stands, I am really proud to say I’m a Thrasher fan. Thanks to all of the players, while Buff, Eager, Ladd, and Sopel have made a huge difference the players who were here before have risen to the challenge and I think I’m especially proud of them. We knew they had it in them, they just needed a few more team players. We who’ve been around since the beginning are VERY, VERY proud!

Sherry Taylor

November 29th, 2010
11:16 am

And, if the season keeps on the way it’s begun, the Atlanta Spirit had better pony up some cash to keep these guys around. Or you’ll lose what’s left of your loyal fans. Pay Buff and Ladd whatever hey want! They are your leaders. They deserve a pay worthy of their service!


November 29th, 2010
11:18 am

I’d say it’s right up there with the Kovy trade at this point. The two key decisions were trading Kovy and hiring Dudley. To be considered #1, short term the team must make the playoffs and do something better than fold tent and go home, and then Byfuglien must be resigned or converted into players that sustain the playoff appearances and general level of play.

With a bit of commitment from ownership, sage tweaking by the GM, and sustained drafting success there is a core team here now that could be a playoff force for several years to come. The opportunity is once again at hand to turn this into something of a model franchise for a warm weather sports town. The players and coaches seem bent on upholding their end.


November 29th, 2010
11:20 am

Worse trade ever?????? Cheryl Ladd for Farrah Fawcett..

Zombie Steve

November 29th, 2010
11:22 am

If the Octotards were willing to throw that giant chunk of change at Kovalchuck, then it proves that they will pony up for their top talent. They are dumb but not dumb enough to let Ladd and Buff walk now.


November 29th, 2010
11:36 am

I’ll agree on Savard… Kozlov is up there… if we can retain Buff long-term, he’s absolutely Top 2.

Ladd was unrelated to the Kovalchuk deal… he’s connected to the Lehtonen trade, money included.

Lehtonen ($3 mill) —> Vishnevskiy —> Andrew Ladd ($2.35 mill)

Joe Friday

November 29th, 2010
11:51 am

“I think trading Waddell for Dudley was by far the best trade the Thrashers ever made.”

Bingo, that’s the big move right there, think Waddell would’ve made any of these moves?

But I second your motion, Chris. Big Buf is a special player, and I vote best trade ever (but then again I’m biased as he was my favorite Hawk in the playoffs last year). The day we traded for him, my phone lit up with all the Chicago Hawk fans bummed out that we got him

Gwinnett Fred

November 29th, 2010
12:11 pm


Do some math for me (us) if you have the resources.

What would the teams payroll be if Kovy accepted our $100+ million offer right now vs. what it really is.


November 29th, 2010
12:35 pm

Ruslan Zainullin for Mark Savard I think is among the biggest steals of franchise history, but this one is up there too. Have to see how good Jeremy Morin turns out to be before you can fully judge.


November 29th, 2010
12:58 pm

Dudley said at the STH town hall meeting that ownership has never denied him money. He said the Chicago players did not come cheap. Who knows.


November 29th, 2010
1:03 pm

Bit early to claim this as the best deal in franchise history, but I think in time we can call this one of the best off-seasons the franchise ever had. Handing the reins to Dudley created an atmosphere that hadn’t been seen in Atlanta hockey since the days of the IHL Champion Knights.


November 29th, 2010
1:06 pm

As a reformed naysayer I have to say “yes”, but there’s of course more to it than just player acquisitions. First of all as others have stated Duds moving into the GM slot is what catalyzed all of this Duds has vision that one must see to believe, again I am a reformed naysayer, Duds sees past statistics…statistically this shouldn’t be happening. It’s one thing to be optimistic, it’s another to say you saw what Duds saw before this happened. Not trying to argue, but I don’t believe many of us have comparable hockey senses to that of Duds. Which brings me to…

Rammer, the other mastermind at work, again Duds’s doing. What a gem this guy is. Basically another diamond in the rough. He is of course the maestro at this point, to orchestrate this performance from our roster is nothing less than stunning (not knocking our guys). This is almost game changing in the sense of how players skills and talents are perceived. To me this is like reinventing the (hockey) wheel so to speak, because apparently you can teach dogs young and old new tricks (not calling our beloved players dogs of course).

Then of couse there is the incredible foresight with Buff on D. I HATED this at first. He’s having another truly breakout year and becoming an elite defenseman…not even becoming HE IS!!! Ladd, Buff, Sopel, Eager, outstanding trade. The skill + the payroll involved + the leadership + the performances from these guys – diva-ness = YAHTZEE!!! BEST TRADE IN THRASHERS HISTORY!!!


J.C. Thompson

November 29th, 2010
1:07 pm

All I can say is that they better have a contracts on the table for Buff and Ladd by the allstar break. The longer this season goes on the more expensive those guys are going to be.


November 29th, 2010
1:22 pm

To B’s fan in penguin territory. As a first generation southerner myself (of “yankee” origins) The answer to your question about why there are teams in the sunbelt is simple. In the last 30 years (that I can vouch for) places like Atlanta have more than doubled in size possibly quadrupled in size. We are without a doubt one of the most populous cities in the US. Guess who came DOWN here in droves. People from NY, NJ, Michigan, Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and so on. They alone validate this market as there are enough of them to carry it. The downside to that is that they carry previous allegiances with them and must be converted or at least willling to support their new home team as well. This can happen and if this kinda play continues, you’ll see that very soon.


November 29th, 2010
1:49 pm

1) Dudley for Waddell
2) Savard for 2 bags of peanuts (a Waddell trade)
3) Kozlov for 4 bags of peanuts (Waddell again)

IF the Thrashers retain Buff for 3 or 4 years, and he maintains his level of play, then his trade would be in the running.


November 29th, 2010
2:26 pm

Gotta agree with Polskidawg above. Retain your difference makers to longterm deals and see how the rest of this season plays out. Then Buff may end up tied with the Savard deal.

Went to two games last week and saw the makings of a legit playoff contender…..maybe more if they stay disiplined all year.


November 29th, 2010
2:32 pm

Not sure what’s keeping people away from the bulb. Maybe it’s a combo of reasons, or maybe former STH and others want more proof. I think the majority of people in this town don’t remember that hockey’s even being played right not, let alone the recent improved play.

They need to start at the very least doing the old billboard marketing around town again(with a fresh slogan). Their have to be some desperate ad companies looking to cut deals to get their blank spaces around the interstates filled right now.


November 29th, 2010
2:56 pm

Sherry- I have to agree with you. The ASG needs to cowboy up and lock these guys in for several years. We have the core of players that can make Blueland a special place for a long time. I still think we need one more piece to add to the puzzle. We have plenty of cap room to do this. I’m just not sure who I would want to give up. I think the greatest trade was getting Duds and placing DW upstairs with all the Big shots (ASG) tight Wads.


November 29th, 2010
3:00 pm

Not trying to be overly optimistic, but I’m feelin’ that way. Buff is KILLING IT!!! Right now he is the creme de la creme and leads d-men in scoring BY A LONG SHOT. He’s on pace to outscore himself from last year (a career high me thinks) as a DEFENSEMAN and by a LONG SHOT!!! He’s on pace to be amongst the top scorers LEAGUE WIDE, again as a DEFENSEMAN!!! I just don’t feel the need to say I’ll hold off on declaring him as being a phenom. I’m pretty sure Savard wasn’t the standout he is in Boston when he was in Blueland, I’d have to wiki that, but I don’t recall him being a perennial all-star here. So, in summation no need to crack open history books, this is nothing short of sensational.


November 29th, 2010
3:31 pm

Now that Coach Ramsey has gotten a bunch of hockey players from different countries to get on the same page, is it too much to ask him to get the Spirt on the same page?
Having attended 5 of the last 6 games we are clearly onto something here with non selfish players, that want to win as a team. Pay them what they are worth but don’t overpay. Yes, Buff is doing a great job but each night we have a different player that can step up.
The only one I miss is Moose…


November 29th, 2010
3:55 pm

Just checked out the Schultz piece on AJC and feel nauseated by volume of the “who cares about hockey” kinda crowd. Screw em, I’m a hockey guy, that’s it. One thing I firmly believe is that the vast majority of people who go attend a hockey game especially with a people like the ones on this post will DIG IT and that’s IMO almost exclusive to hockey. I’ve done that to way too many people to think otherwise. Anywho…we’ll go it alone. Oxymoronic? Yep, oh well…


Andrew G

November 29th, 2010
3:59 pm

The gift that keeps on giving. A skeptic of the Kovy trade myself, I realize that the Kovy trade was the most pivotal in our franchise. Thank you. Having that extra first round pick from NJ gave Duds the leverage to allow the trades for Byfuglin and gang. Also, the addition of Ramsey at the helm is overlooked. These guys are finally buying in and they are a real fun team to watch.

Putting On The Foil

November 29th, 2010
4:08 pm

Individual player wise, the Savard and Koslov trades were right up there. But as far TEAM wise, the kovy trade started the ball rolling for allowing the trade with Chicago, which could very well turn out to be the best. Right now, it looks great, and hopefully in a few years we will be saying the same thing. Buff along with the other pieces could very well be the men who save hockey in Atlanta. And we got Burmi on top of all that.

B's Fan in Penguin Territory

November 29th, 2010
4:37 pm

@Razor … This blog entry sparked my interest because the Thrash have been mediocre for so many years. I am happy to see this team do well lately because I think a successful on-ice product justifies the placement of a team in a non-traditional market. Then again, Dallas, Tampa, and Carolina have all won the Cup in recent years and have had major financial problems and attendance issues. Here’s to hoping that y’all make the playoffs this year.


November 29th, 2010
4:38 pm

Getting Dudley and Ramsey for Teflon Don and Which Way Did They Go, Johnny A. was by far our best deal. Worse trade of all was Coburn for Zhitnik, another Teflon Special right next to the inability to re-sign Savard. I for one chirped about moving D-Buff to forward. Oops, sorry guys, my bad.


November 29th, 2010
4:43 pm

Actually, we should send Dave Tallon a thank you card. Without his blunder 2 season ago, Chicago might actually be able to keep Big Buff under conract!


November 29th, 2010
5:27 pm

B’s Fan, sorry if that sounded a bit condescending, wasn’t intentional. Northern transplants are absolutely the biggest reason why hockey has gradually migrated south as well as into other nontraditional hockey markets. That’s what my point was and it probably didn’t need to be made.


November 29th, 2010
5:38 pm

I’d like to think wins and a better economy will fill the arena. Look at Chicago 4-5 years ago..empty seats. Boston had that problem 3-4 years ago. I watch the highlights on NHL Network every night. Many arenas have empty seats, even Detroit..and they have a great team buffered by a terrible unemployment rate.

My point is, that yes, attendance should be worrisome, but I’d like to revisit this topic next year when this team keeps rolling, establishes a brand identity with the fans and sponsors, and then has (any sort of) a playoff run.


November 29th, 2010
5:55 pm

It’s a top 5 trade. But maybe the Savard fleecing was the # 1 deal in franchise history.


November 29th, 2010
6:28 pm

Marc Savard. And then we let him walk for nothing………..

Puck Like A Porn Star

November 29th, 2010
6:45 pm

Getting rid of Kovalchoke paved the way for Buff becoming a Thrasher.

How are the Devils doing this season, by the way?


November 29th, 2010
6:49 pm

Hard to say if this was the best deal, right now I like the Ladd deal a lot. Finally a young leader on the team. Buff is saying all the right things on NHL on the fly and I think it goes a long way for this team to allow him to play the position he prefers, defense!!!


November 29th, 2010
6:54 pm

I thought we did pretty good getting what we got for Kovalchuk, but I have to say to get Byfuglien, Sopel, and Eager for what little we had to give up was a STEAL! I think the Blackhawks management is still trying to get Dudley arrested for robbing them. Haha.


November 29th, 2010
8:40 pm

Too early to tell, but the Buff trade ranks right up there. If he won’t resign then no, it isn’t a big trade, long term. Just like Savard wasn’t that significant, long term, because he chose to go back north, we heard. Savard was here for most of three years – the trade year, about 2/3 of a year, the next year was injury shortened, about a half year and then the final 82 game year where he notched 97 points (he should thank Kovy). But he chose to leave. I don’t know what Savard was offered (who does, really?) but the line was he wanted to get back up to the NE to be near his family….ok, whatever. We do konw he refused to stay.

So the upshot of the Ladd and Buff trades is will they stay here?? Ladd has the C…Buff is seen lately on camera lifting the ATLANTA on his sleeve to the crowd and the camera. He also has an A, at least for now. I have to like our chances to extend both…well, Buff is still RFA, right? But even so discounting that, I feel good about it now. The team is excelling of late, the talent pool is young, so why not stay – assuming they get aedquate offers?