It's a day we all knew was coming. The Hawks are in cap hell, and people had to go. Well, the first chips have fallen today.
The Blackhawks have dealt Dustin Byfuglein, Ben Eager, Brent Sopel and Akim Aliu to Atlanta in exchange for the 24th overall pick at the
2010 NHL Entry Draft, the 54th pick, veteran center Marty Reasoner, and prospect Jeremy Morin.
Reasoner will likely take John Madden's spot as the 4th line center. Morin was a big time scorer for the Kitchener Rangers, and is rated as Atlanta's #3 prospect.
So what does this mean for the Hawks cap? Well, this is a very good start in clearing salary. All said, it frees up $4,765,000. The Hawks need to clear a little more, but could be done if they're willing to dump Cristobal Huet and his $5.6 million contact to Rockford.
Now the focus becomes resigning Antti Niemi and Niklas Hjalmarsson. Both are restricted free agents, and are due big raises.
It's tough to see guys like Buff and Sopel, who were both excellent in the playoffs go, but let's forget about fuzzy memories, and break it down from a hockey standpoint.
Brent Sopel, who was outstanding in the playoffs, is a journeyman NHL defenseman who's age was clearly catching up with him. For the salary her makes, you can sign 2-3 Sopels.
Dustin Byfuglien, for all of his playoff heroics, was as inconsistent as they come. Kyle Beach, the Hawks 1st round pick from the 2008 draft, is a big, talented, nutjob who can, and will, play big in front of the net.
Eager's a dude. That's it. He's a dime a dozen.
This is the exact deal the Hawks needed to make. Money is off the books without losing Patrick Sharp. THAT was the Hawks offseason priority. Mission 1: Accomplished.