The first domino(es) falls in Chicago

Chicago has taken the first step in alleviating their salary cap nightmare.

Dustin Byfuglien will bring his net-front presence to the Atlanta Thrashers next season.

This afternoon, the team sent playoff hero Dustin Byfuglien to Atlanta along with Brent Sopel, Ben Eager and Akim Aliu in exchange for the Marty Reasoner, Jeremy Morin, the 24th and 54th overall selections in the 2010 draft.

The trade sheds about $4-5 million from the Blackhawks cap. That is assuming Morin plays in the AHL next season.

While the trade hasn’t officially gone through, this will end up better for the Blackhawks than for the Thrashers. Even though Atlanta gets the top player in the deal, they also inherit two sub-par players in Sopel and Eager. Meanwhile, Chicago now owns five picks in the first 60 of the draft, that gives them the ability to restock their prospect cupboard for the next 3-5 years.

In addition, Atlanta loses a quality role player in Reasoner and the first round selection they acquired from trading Ilya Kovalchuk.

Now, Byfuglien is an outstanding talent. In the right situation he can be dominant. However, he just left a team with loads of top-end talent (Towes, Kane, Hossa etc.). He now becomes the big fish in a little pond drawing the opponents top defenders every game. In Chicago teams had to worry about five other studs, not just Byfuglien. I feel he won’t be as dominant in this situation. Think of how Ryan Malone did in Tampa when he didn’t have Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby taking all of the defensive attention.

Don’t get me wrong. Byfuglien will help Atlanta and Sopel and Eager will find their spots on the roster. But I feel when you look at the big picture, this trade helps out Chicago much more than it does Atlanta.

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