Ladd and The Former Chicago Blackhawks (Updated January)
It has been a roller coaster type of season for the Blackhawks this season. With the All-Star Game approaching, we can look back and see that the Hawks are beginning to play better each week.
But, it is also interesting to see how our former favorite players that are now on other teams are fairing rough out the past couple of months I have chronicled how the guys are doing, and it is interesting to see the varying degrees of success for our former heroes. Obviously, most Blackhawks fans will support these players when they are not tying up the skates against the Hawks, but will on any other occasion.
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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. Since taking the assistant captain role for the Thrashers, Dustin has emerged to be the leader with "attitude" and has seemingly given the Thrashers a much needed identity.
The former Blackhawks 8th round pick has been perhaps the most productive of the Blackhawks on other teams. He has been named to the All-Star game for the first time in career. He has played in every game this season, and leads the NHL in game-winning goals. "Big Buff" has also taken the second most shots in the league this season.
16 G 25 A +/- 3
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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.
Burish has been banged up a little bit over the past month with foot issues, but has also seen a little more production in terms of goals and assists when he is out there.
6 G 3 A +/- 2
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One of the good guys and respected veterans on the Blackhawks last season was defense-men Brent Sopel.
Though not the biggest contributor in points, 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.
Sopel has only tallied one goal this season, but as he has done throughout his long career; he is able to do many things that are not seen on the stat sheet.
1 G 5 A +/- 8
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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.
The "Atlanta Blackhawks" lost one of their members as Eager is now a member of the team that has emerged as one of the Blackhawks biggest rivals in the Sharks. He led the Thrashers in penalty minutes and should have no trouble leading in that stat in San Jose as well.
3 G 7 A +/- 4
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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, and did not have the impact that he had hoped.
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.
The question is, "Will Colin Fraser get a shot to prove he is a player the Oilers want to have in the mix during the re-building?"
To this point, Fraser has been somewhat of a non-factor in minimal playing time in 32 games. In the last month, he has not recorded a single point for the Oilers.
2 G 1 A +/- -2
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John 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 years 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. It was a good month for John as he contributed often on the offensive end of the ice for the Wild.
7 G 8 A +/- -8
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Andrew Ladd is the fourth and final player who 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 a players anyone could ask for, and in his two and a half seasons in Chicago proved to be a tough and reliable player. He has also been one of the best in the league when Atlanta has been short-handed this season.
The young captain of the Thrashers is trying to steer his team to a strong regular season finish; which could result into a strong run in the playoffs.
16 G 23 A +/- -4
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.
It has been another poor season for the Leafs, but over the course of the last month Versteeg has been productive with numerous assists.
12 G 19 A +/- -14
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The gears are starting to turn for Antti Niemi.
Perhaps he is getting ready for a run like Blackhawks fans everywhere saw last season. For some, he was written off as good as gone with his poor start, but since then Niemi has rebounded, and has returned to his playoff form.
With Nittaymaki now on the injured reserve, the Sharks will need Niemi to continue to show his brilliance if they want to make a playoff run.
13-13-2 .912 SV% 2.72 GAA