How Are Dustin Byfuglien and The Rest of The Former Chicago Blackhawks Doing?
With only a few weeks into the new season it is very difficult, and pre-mature to determine if the Blackhawks made all the right, or wrong moves with the mass Summer exodus due to salary cap restrictions.
One can only hope that these players; that helped bring a championship banner to Chicago have long and prosperious careers. But, on the other hand it may sting many diehards to see them go on to become top-level NHL players in another uniform.
In either instance, the core of the Blackhawks as many see it, remains.
But, perhaps those players that took a plane out of Chicago for good this Summer will be the core for another franchise for years to come.
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"Big Buff" was one of the four Blackhawks that are now lacing the skates up for the Thrashers this season.
One of the main catalysts in the run and victory in the finals, Byfuglien has been moved back to defense in Atlanta thus far into the young season. Many Chicago fans surely remember the back-and-forth movement over the past few seasons between "Buff" being a forward, and being on the blue-line.
He has had some varying degrees of success with three points from the back end; including one goal which he got by former teammate Antti Niemi.
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A fan favorite for many Hawks fans was and still is Adam Burish. The Madison, Wisconsin native always showed passion and intensity when he played in Chi-Town, and he no doubt looks to bring those elements to his time now in Big-D.
Since joining the Dallas Stars, Burish has been put into the second line on offense with established players Brenden Morrow and Mike Ribeiro.
Though Adam has not registered any points on the stat sheet as of yet, he no doubt will contribute in that capacity eventually, and gives the Stars intangibles that don't show up on the stat sheet.
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One of the good guys and respected veterans on the Blackhawks last season was defensemen Brent Sopel.
Though not the biggest contributor in a points sense, he often was seen giving up his body to block shots, or move players out of the crease for his goalie. Along, with others from last season he is now an Atlanta Thrasher.
In his short tenure with the Thrashers he has already gotten in on an assist. The leadership factor also has to be taken into account with Sopel as he has been in the NHL for over 10 seasons, and will help the young Thrashers grow up fast.
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The victory over the Flyers in the finals could not have been any better for Ben Eager. The former top draft pick by Philadelphia was a tough, enforcer that was needed greatly by the Blackhawks, and he gave them all he had.
He was yet again another player that was sent to Atlanta this Summer, and has been one of the more active contributor's to the team so far. The 6'2 230lbs forward has given Atlanta a big time shot, and a player that is not the least bit apprehensive about mixing it up.
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Another Flyers draft pick, Colin Fraser played in 70 regular season games last season, and got consistent ice time. In the playoffs he only got into three games in total, and did not have the impact that he had hoped for.
The Oilers are a team that is rebuilding, but rebuilding with a definite and clear mission. They will be a force in the future with the likes of Jordan Eberle and Taylor Hall in the fold.
Colin Fraser is currently on the checking line as the center, and will be looked upon to win faceoffs; which he has shown to be very skilled at in the past.
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0John Madden was brought in for a host of reasons last season by the Blackhawks. One of the main reasons is his ability to kill penalties, and his year's of top-notch performances on special teams. But, also he was signed because he had the experience getting to, and winning the Stanley Cup (twice).
But, after his one-year deal with the Hawks' expired, Madden who is now 37 could not be brought in another year with the salary he expected to command.
Instead he was signed with Minnesota, who is still trying to find their identity as a team. Madden throughout his team has been apart of, and contributed to winning teams, so it can be expected that the Wild will be affected in a positive manner by John Madden's presence.
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Andrew Ladd is the fourth and final player that has gone to the Thrashers via the Blackhawks. For many, including myself, Ladd was the most difficult player to see leave from the Blackhawks.
He was as consistent of players that anyone could ask for, and in his two and a half seasons in Chicago proved to be a tough and reliable player.
Since joining up with the Thrashers, Ladd has exploded in the young campaign with a young group of players on his line. The two-time Stanley Cup champion and former 4th overall draft pick by Carolina is sure to be among the top offensive producers in Atlanta all season.
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The man affectionately known as "Steeger" was definitely at the top of many people's lists of players they did not want to see go. Kris Versteeg won many polls in the off-season asking which departed Blackhawks player would go on to have the best season with his new team.
Statistically, Versteeg is trailing to Andrew Ladd in that department, but we are only on the initial leg of what is a marathon known as the NHL season.
Already in his short career with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Versteeg has recorded what is known as a Gordie Howe Hat Trick (a goal, an assist, and a fight in one game).
That versatility is what Blackhawks fans came to admire from Kris who played two seasons with the Hawks'. His postseason production should continue for a dangerous Leafs team.
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The main man that was in-between the pipes in the stretch run and playoffs for the Blackhawks was Antti Niemi. The undrafted goalie out of Finland became a household name over night. In the end however, it came down to either signing young and up and coming Niklas Hjalmarrson and look for a veteran goalie on the cheap (Marty Turco), or invest in Niemi for the future. As everyone knows, the Blackhawks chose the latter.
Since that time Niemi signed a one-year deal with the rival San Jose Sharks who look for him to be the man to get them over the hump come playoff time. It is very likely that come the playoffs Niemi will be faced with stopping his old team.
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