Thrashers sign Dustin Byfuglien to 5-year, $26 million extension
At a time where most teams are looking to acquire new players, or ship off old ones, the Atlanta Thrashers are taking care of their current players.
It was announced on Tuesday that the Thrashers had signed Dustin Byfuglien, their top defenseman and leading scorer to a brand new 5-year, $26 million contract extension. The deal will average out to a $5.2 million cap hit and will keep the defenseman-turned-forward-turned-defenseman in HOTlanta through 2016.
As we said, Byfuglien is currently the Thrashers leading scorer, with 17 goals and 26 assists for 43 points (even rating), which also happens to be the 5th most points among defensemen, and by far the most goals.
Byfuglien was not only on last year's Stanley Cup winning team in Chicago, but was a big part of it, scoring an amazing 11 goals in 22 games, five of which were game winners (he only had 17 goals and 17 assists in 82 games playing as a forward throughout the season). But in order to keep the core together and also to give a chance to Byfuglien to play where he would really shine, as a defenseman, Big Buff was included in one of the off-season's biggest deals, traded to Atlanta along with Ben Eager and Brent Sopel, in exchange for Marty Reasoner, Jeremy Morin, Joey Crabb and 1st and 2nd round picks.
The players would be joined a week later by now two time Stanley Cup winner and captain of the Thrashers, Andrew Ladd, who sits just a point behind Byfuglien this season with 42 points.
You can't really argue with Atlanta's strategy. Trade for a bunch of players who recently won the cup, and make them your stars. Sounds like a good strategy to me, especially with players like Ladd and Bufyglien who were clearly playing second fiddle to some big (albeit deserving) names in the Windy city The Thrashers could still miss the playoffs this year, but they sit in 9th place, only two points behind Ladd's former team, the Carolina Hurricanes, for the final playoff spot in the East. But whether they make it or not, you can bet that they're pretty much over Ilya Kovalchuk and the former regime that held them captive for years.
Will the Thrashers survive in Atlanta? That remains to be seen. But they've planted some firm roots for a team that could be very good in the coming years, and it all starts with Ladd and Byfuglien.
Also see: Byfuglien makes TCL's TSN Pun of the Day