Updated: Thrashers acquire Wheeler, Stuart from Boston

It was time to make a move.

With their playoff chances fading, the Thrashers acquired Blake Wheeler and Mark Stuart from Boston on Friday. By adding a forward and defenseman, two pieces general manager Rick Dudley has been targeting, he hopes to snap a slump that has seen just six wins in the past 24 games.

In exchange, the Thrashers sent forward Rich Peverley and defenseman Boris Valabik, a former first-round pick, to the Bruins.

“I’ll start with the fact that we’ve won three of the last 15 games,” Dudley said on the reason for the trade now. “We needed to make a change. … “We want to make the playoffs. Right now, we have not played very well. The deal today was clearly made to give us a jump start and try to get on a roll. We’ve proven this year that we can get on a significant roll but we like to get back it.”

The centerpiece of the deal for the Thrashers is Wheeler, a former first-round pick (No. 5 overall) by Phoenix in 2004. The 24-year-old had 11 goals and 27 points in 58 games for the Bruins this season. In three NHL seasons, the 6-foot-5, 205-pounder has 110 points (50 goals, 60 assists). The Robbinsdale, Minnesota native has missed only one game in his NHL career.

“Big body with good puck skills,” said Thrashers coach Craig Ramsay, who coached both Wheeler and Stuart as an assistant coach with Boston. “He’s able to kill penalties and has become pretty good at that aspect of the game. He should help on the power play as well because of his good offensive skills.”

Wheeler, who will wear No. 26, will become a restricted free agent. He made $2.2 million this season.

Dudley said he wanted a big centerman, although Wheeler can play all three forward positions, because he didn’t think a group of small centers such as Peverley, Bryan Little and Alexander Burmistrov would work long term. The move comes 10 days before the Feb. 28 NHL trade deadline. Dudley said more moves are possible.

Stuart, 26, has been limited by injury and played in only 31 games for Boston this season with five points (one goal, four assists) and a plus-8 rating. The 6-2, 213-pound Stuart, who will wear No. 5, was a first-round pick (No. 21 overall) by the Bruins in 2003. In six NHL seasons, the Rochester, Minnesota native has 40 points (13 goals, 27 assists). Stuart, who will make $1.675 million this season, will become an unrestricted free agent.

“He’s a great competitor and brings grit to the defensive corp.,” Ramsay said. “He will also jump up and join rushes. He really wants to be involved offensively, not just be a defenseman.”

Both players are expected to join the Thrashers in time for Saturday’s game in Edmonton. Dudley said he expects both to be in the lineup against the Oilers.

“I think I’ve come a long ways, certainly with the complete game and both ends of the ice,” Wheeler told the Boston Globe after the trade. “I think I’ve transformed my game in a lot of areas. Offensively, I have a lot more to offer than I’ve maybe done so far this year. I just want to keep doing those same things I learned here about being a complete player.”

Peverley, 28, appeared in all 59 games for the Thrashers this season with 14 goals and 34 points. He had played in 180 consecutive games, with 49 goals, since being claimed off waivers from Nashville in January 2009.

“It’s tough to see a friend go,” Thrashers defenseman Ron Hainsey said. “It’s a good opportunity for him. At the same time, we got two people back that can help us. Usually change happens when you are struggling.”

Valabik, the No. 10 overall pick by the Thrashers in 2004, has spent all season at AHL Chicago. The 25 year old has had an injury plagued career. The 6-7, 245-pounder had seven assists in 80 career games with the Thrashers. Valabik has long been waiting for a second chance.

“Boston is a dream come true as far as an organization and a style of play,” Valabik said. “I’m thankful for another chance and I finally see a light at the end of the tunnel. … I was thinking if I get traded, I’ll be the luckiest guy in the world. Now it’s up to me and not anybody else.”

With Stuart giving the Thrashers seven healthy defenseman, Paul Postma was re-assigned to AHL Chicago. Postma was re-called on Tuesday but was scratched for Thursday’s game against Phoenix.

152 comments Add your comment

Bbbb

February 18th, 2011
1:28 pm

Is Wheeler better than Peverley? Or it’s just trade for nothing?

computer overlord

February 18th, 2011
1:29 pm

so long worthless and gutless peverley. about time. he never played hard. thank you for getting rid of him,

GaVaHokie

February 18th, 2011
1:32 pm

I personally don’t like this trade… I can’t get over what Wheeler did to Phoenix.

Yet another Phoenix and Atlanta connection this week.

Here’s the back story on why I don’t like Wheeler…

http://bleacherreport.com/articles/26179-phoenix-coyotes-blake-wheeler-opts-for-free-agency

h

February 18th, 2011
1:32 pm

I’m not sure this makes us much better. I sure hope there is another trade in the works.

Sage of Bluesland

February 18th, 2011
1:32 pm

I’m sure Kincade will gush about this….

(if the Thrashers even get a mention between baseball and college football…)

Stanley Cup is ours!!!

Thrashers27

February 18th, 2011
1:32 pm

So long, Peever. Thanks for your contribution.

Now, let’s just hope Wheeler doesn’t pull the similar crap in Atlanta as he did in Phoenix.

computer overlord

February 18th, 2011
1:32 pm

it’s better by subtraction. Stuart plays hard, gritty and can score. peverley is one of those players who rarely gives maximum effort, he needed to go. we all harp about players being lazy and just standing around, Peverley was one of the main culprits IMO. I am happy with this trade, Boston is hoping Valabik can revive his career there and i hope so, i felt bad for big Boris, maybe Chara can help him.

h

February 18th, 2011
1:35 pm

wonder if this means that Sopel’s days are numbered…..

GaVaHokie

February 18th, 2011
1:35 pm

Personalities aside… this is a good trade on paper. We give up a 1st Round bust and a waiver pick-up for a 1st Round Power Forward with RFA and a solid stay-at-home defenseman who’s a career +37 with only one year at -1.

http://tsn.ca/nhl/teams/players/bio/?id=3503

h

February 18th, 2011
1:36 pm

not exactly the deal I was hoping for……we MUST make another one quick…..

the spons

February 18th, 2011
1:36 pm

computer overlord, did you mean Wheeler? Stuart’s a defenseman with one goal on the season. Wheeler definitely gives us more size up front and we were perhaps deep at center (hopefully Slater can play again soon and we can send Stapleton back down).

Sounds like Stuart is solid on defense though and that gives us some options on future trades (maybe Sopel?).

Thrashers27

February 18th, 2011
1:36 pm

Wow, think about Boris and Zdeno workin’ the blueline together. That’s kinda scary if Boris ever plays up to his early expectations…not that it’s likely to happen, but glad to see we were able to get somethign for him rather than just waive him as we tried to do several times.

I’m sure most of that transaction is a salary dump for Boston so they can take on Kaberle.

CA Thrashers Fan

February 18th, 2011
1:37 pm

Sad to see Pevs go, but I think this is ultimately a positive move for the team. Pevs had played himself into Ramsay’s doghouse a bit, and Wheeler is big, skilled forward that will fit right in with this team. I do have some concerns about when he was Coyote property, so will hold my breath a bit until Dudley gets a reasonable extension worked out with him (Wheeler will be a RFA).

Stuart was a pretty promising defenseman that has been troubled by the injury bug. Since Bobo wasn’t going to be getting ice time in Atlanta any time soon, a pretty low risk move there. I could see Stuart possibly being re-signed to take Sopel’s spot if the latter leaves at the end of this season.

GaVaHokie

February 18th, 2011
1:37 pm

Next thing I want to hear is Bergfors and a prospect for a Top 2 Centerman.

woo

February 18th, 2011
1:37 pm

Wheeler gets a fresh start here, we don’t know the full circumstances there in Pho, has he been a problem in Boston? regardless.. it’s unfair to judge the guy. I have always liked Mark Stuart, I got sick of the lack of effort from Pevs, it was apparent Rammer did as well.

buzz

February 18th, 2011
1:39 pm

The next trade will include Bogosian, now that we have Stuart.

Bogo and Bergfors for a real scoring machine … like CHRIS STEWART. (let me dream, please)

Barry

February 18th, 2011
1:41 pm

Wheeler has much needed size in the middle which this team desperately needs up front. Also he has a much better +/- than Peverley. We also improve our blueline with Stuart so I say we get the better end of this deal by a little bit. Also Wheeler will be a RFA so if he works out maybe we can resign him for a couple of years.

goose

February 18th, 2011
1:42 pm

Sopel’s next both him and Stuart are Defensive Defense men in their last years of their contracts. Look for Sopel to be traded back to Chicago for maybe Bolland?

Acer

February 18th, 2011
1:44 pm

“one of those players who rarely gives maximum effort…we all harp about players being lazy and just standing around”

That sounds an awful lot like Wheeler.

Hip Czech

February 18th, 2011
1:44 pm

Gotta think there is another move coming for a center (hello St. Louis)…Agreed Bogosian and Bergfors for Boyes or Berglund (or any other player whose last name begins with B).

Blake Wheeler

February 18th, 2011
1:48 pm

It is what it is.

buzz

February 18th, 2011
1:48 pm

Berglund actually makes sense, but he’s a bit soft … not sure that is what coach wants.

GaVaHokie

February 18th, 2011
1:48 pm

Craig Ramsay coached both Stuart and Wheeler in Boston, so I’d like to think he had some insight.

computer overlord

February 18th, 2011
1:50 pm

yeah my bad, i meant wheeler can score, only 11 goals..but he’ll get minutes here, i’m not much of a stat guy.. Pevs has good stats but his effort flat out stunk to me. We also got something for nothing, I don’t think Pevs was good for this team regardless of him adding points, I am personally thankful we have a good GM who is weeding out the DW players as I call them. Duds promised us a gritty team that would be hard to play against, Peverley doesn’t fit that bill. I got sick to my stomach when someone hit Evander Kane in his already broke nose while Pevs just stood there, that isn’t a good teammate, I don’t expect non fighters to all of a sudden turn into Boulton and defend a franchise player, but c’mon.. that’s part of the reason this team basically failed to make the playoffs, no heart and guys like Pevs were part of the problem. being demoted in practice wasn’t enough of a message for him to get it.

i also sense another deal coming, my guess is Sopel as he would be expendable now with Stuart.

Acer

February 18th, 2011
1:50 pm

St. Louis has trouble scoring goals. I’m 90 percent sure that they won’t trade their #3 and #4 scorer.

h

February 18th, 2011
1:50 pm

Trading Bogey would be a really dumb move. He’s not going anywhere. Bergfors may go, but if Sopel goes with him, we better get a true top 6 back with some years left on a contract.

Brendan

February 18th, 2011
1:50 pm

Maybe I’m in the minority here, and truthfully I’ve only given this trade the “first glance” analysis, but this trade does seem to make our team better. We’ve been griping that Rich Peverley was NOT performing up to last year’s standards. Well, he’s gone.

Now, I want to see a show of hands on this one. How many of you have ever heard of Marco Sturm and Blake Wheeler? (Everyone’s hands go shooting skyward.) Okay, then. These are players that you know. NHL-caliber. Rich Peverley, outside of Nashville and Atlanta, is a virtual unknown in most markets. And Boris Valabik … one of the last of Don Waddell’s many 1st round draft picks (only Jim Slater and Zach Bogosian and Evander Kane are left) is now gone, too. Boris has NEVER SCORED an NHL goal, and could not crack the starting lineup of the NHL partent club, six years after he was drafted 10th overall.

Now, admittedly, I haven’t even “peeked” at what this does to our budget. But I’m guessing we just ADDED some payroll. And we’re probably over the FLOOR of the cap, at long last. Look, nobody was going to pluck away a Staal, Crosby, Malkin, Sedin type player at the deadline, much less Atlanta. But Blake Wheeler, character issues aside, is a young, highly-skilled player, who I think is an RFA. So, he’s trapped here now. And Marco Sturm has been, throughout his career, desired enough among the league’s GM’s to be traded several times now. I don’t think GM’s traded Sturm because they didn’t like him. I think he’s been traded because the gaining GM wanted him as a ‘throw in,’ seeing value in the guy. He is 33, but he is also playoff tested. Sturm is a ’straight-up rental,’ as he’s a pending UFA. Let’s just hope we get the most of this German-born player.

Joe McGrath

February 18th, 2011
1:50 pm

Good trade–we got a number 1 draft pick, proven power forward for a waiver pick-up and a solid D man for a minor leaguer. I would love to have been able to get Ruutu for a 6th round pick–but I suppose at that age, player tells boss where he’d like to go, and I’m sure Atlanta wasn’t on his radar. But we definately could use a “pest” style of a player. Hopefully we’ll get Slater back soon. Any word on Slater CV? Might he be ready for the Panthers?

Brendan

February 18th, 2011
1:52 pm

Apologies, I thought Sturm. It’s not him. It’s Stuart. My bad. Sorry.

Hip Czech

February 18th, 2011
1:52 pm

Buzz, agreed Berglund is a bit soft…but he is a scorer…Backes also fits the Bill

h

February 18th, 2011
1:52 pm

h

February 18th, 2011
1:53 pm

though maybe we made another trade too……psych!

Joe McGrath

February 18th, 2011
1:54 pm

BTW, Computer God, I just read your post and couldn’t agree more. Pevs, at times, broke out the skill. But he hardly ever broke out real intensity. He did have a nice dish to Ladd last night though.

Brendan

February 18th, 2011
1:56 pm

No, no, “h.” I’ve already apologized for my goof. I’m sorry. I misread this article. Mark and Maco. Sturm and Stuart. It could happen to anyone. :)

Hockey Biltong

February 18th, 2011
1:57 pm

Brendan,
Stuart, not Sturm…

Alan R.

February 18th, 2011
1:57 pm

Good gravy. A link to Bleacher Report?

… sigh.

We hockey fans deal with so much non-credible news sources. Do we really need more?

HERE is a credible news source regarding Wheeler and the Coyotes.

http://www.thehockeynews.com/articles/16333-THNcom-Blog-Wheeler-will-have-plenty-of-suitors-after-spurning-Coyotes.html

Brendan

February 18th, 2011
1:57 pm

Marco, even. I’m suriving mostly on coffee today, folks. Who’s got one of those 5-hour energy drinks?

buzz

February 18th, 2011
1:57 pm

Backes will never be traded, he is the soul of that team.

If Wheeler can play center, use him at #2 until Burmistrov grows up.

Antro is just too slow to be effective anymore. Sad, he did not suck as bad as Toronto fans think he did.

Hockey Biltong

February 18th, 2011
1:57 pm

Brendan

February 18th, 2011
1:57 pm

Biltong, I’ve covered this.

Hip Czech

February 18th, 2011
1:59 pm

Acer, I only bring up St. Louis because rumors are we have been scouting them lately…and they do have a glut of centers. They also seem to have some needs, though not sure why Eric Brewer’s name comes up.

How about sending Chris Mason back to St. Louis? How long is Halak out for?

Hockey Biltong

February 18th, 2011
1:59 pm

Pevs has more street cred than you think. With Bostons’ tough guys around him, he may excell.

computer overlord

February 18th, 2011
2:01 pm

acer, i’ll take the non visor guy over the visor guy who i have watched for a few years now be a vag.

Acer

February 18th, 2011
2:02 pm

Backes? He signed a long term extension this season. Forget about him.

Matt

February 18th, 2011
2:04 pm

Peverley was asked to produce like a top-line forward here. He’s just not that talented.

Mike

February 18th, 2011
2:04 pm

There mention on ESPN that Stuart was thought to be going to Chicago. Maybe Duds sends Stuart and Bergfors to Chicago for Bolland and a pick or prospect. I’d probably rather see Sopel and Bergs to Chicago for Bolland as it seems Sopes wants to be back in Chicago, but I don’t think that would be enough to get Bolland.

Badly Firing Synapses

February 18th, 2011
2:05 pm

computer delaaaaay.

KLS1

February 18th, 2011
2:06 pm

I really liked Peverly…realize he was in the doghouse but he had soft hands and could really handle the puck.

Now I know that we are not built for flash but think this move is basically even. I like Wheeler’s size but he seems to be problem child.

Good luck Peverley…thanks for signing an extension here a couple years ago when nobody else would. You will fill the spot Savard left nicely. Good Luck.

Mr. Obvious

February 18th, 2011
2:07 pm

On the bright side, at least Rich Peverley and Boris Valabik won’t have to move to Canada this fall.

Hockey Biltong

February 18th, 2011
2:08 pm

I like the idea of getting Bolland as well.