NHL Trade Rumors: 10 Players Most Impacted By Dustin Byfuglien's Contract

Mike MacDonaldCorrespondent IFebruary 21, 2011

NHL Trade Rumors: 10 Players Most Impacted By Dustin Byfuglien's Contract

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    When Dustin Byfuglien was traded by the Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks there was a deep feeling that the Atlanta Thrashers were about to get a player who could provide to be a cornerstone to their franchise.

    Just 25 yrs old, the versatile Byfuglien can play both forward and defense with effective results.

    Byfuglien's value to the Atlanta Thrashers seems comparable to that of Mark Streit.

    Streit who played both positions with success during his time as a member of the Montreal Canadiens, left the Habs as a free agent to sign a five-year $20.5 Million dollar contract with the New York Islanders in the summer of 2008.

    Streit wanting to focus his playing time more on playing defense than forward while still being the quarterback of the power play.

    As for Byfuglien, his success last season helping the Chicago Blackhawks do something they had not done since 1961— win a Stanley Cup and was primarily done as a forward. He was also in the consideration for the Conn Smythe Trophy as NHL play-off MVP.

    Like Streit, both players are originally defenseman who thrived playing roles as forwards, but Big Buf— as he is known, showed that he might be leaving his defense days behind him.

    Not so.

    Once in Atlanta, the focus was on returning Byfuglien back to his defensive roots and using his skills to help Atlanta engineer a puck possession game. Having a determined Byfuglien bye into that need has catapulted his NHL star power as he participated in his first All-Star game this past January in Carolina.

    The All-Star recently signed a five-year contract extension with the Thrashers that will pay him in the neighborhood of $26 Million. Byfuglien is currently fourth in NHL scoring amongst defenseman with 45 points in 60 games.

    With Byfuglien's new contract, there are a few players who could be impacted by his new deal.

    Recently the Los Angeles Kings re-signed defenseman Jack Johnson to seven-year, $30.5 Million deal as the Pittsburgh Penguins inked the young defender Kris Letang to a four-year, $14 Million deal. The Dallas Stars have also extended a deal with Trevor Daley at $19.8 Million over six years.

    Those contracts of Johnson, Letang and Daley all more than likely impacted the deal that Byfuglien received by the Thrashers, by Atlanta locking up Big Buf, the potential is now there for some notable free agents this summer to cash in. There will also be a potential for some other, up and coming defenseman to land a big deal down the road.

    While Byfuglien's contract has the potential to impact many NHLer's in their attempts to land a new deal, many will likely be defenseman.

    Here is my list of 10 defenseman that will be impacted by Dustin Byfuglien's contract.

Brent Seabrook

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    Brent Seabrook is coming off a three-year, $10.5 M contract and is schedule to be a RFA at season's end.

    While Seabrook is one of the cogs in the Blackhawks wheel, the likelihood is that Hawks GM Stan Bowman will do what he can to lock-up Seabrook for quite some time.

    After all, Bowman could have moved Seabrook this off season while he was moving others in order to keep the Hawks under the salary cap. (See Byfuglien)

    Only 25 yrs old, Seabrook should be able to provide great value to the Hawks for many seasons to come. Versatile on the first or second unit of the power play, Seabrook can play all situations.

    A member of Olympic gold medal winning Team Canada during the 2010 Vancouver games, Seabrook has been a dependable asset as he rarely misses an games.

    A regular contributor to landing hits and blocking shots, Seabrook has added points on both the power play and shorthanded.

Shea Weber

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    Shea Weber is the Nashville Predators Captain is currently at the end of a three-year, $13.5 M deal. The native of Sicamous, BC is a RFA at season's end.

    His cap hit is $4.5 million.

    The 25 yr old Weber, who plays all areas of the rink will be scheduled for a big pay day.

    In 379 career NHL games with the Predators, Weber has 203 points and is a +24. Add Weber's 33 career power play goals and 14 game winning goals, and Weber is about to enter his prime as a hard shooting NHL defenseman.

    With 12 goals and 25 assists in 50 games this season, Weber is looking to surpass his goal and point totals of last season where he had 16 goals and 27 assists in 78 games.

Drew Doughty

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    At season's end, Doughty will be ending his entry level NHL contract which paid the London, Ontario native a mere $2.625 Million over the last three seasons. He will be a RFA.

    His cap hit is $3.475 Million with a bonus included.

    Doughty, who only turned 21 yrs old in December, has accomplished a considerable amount in his short NHL career.

    After having a solid rookie season with a young and struggling Kings team, Doughty scored 16 goals and added 59 points with a +20 and gathered Norris Trophy consideration.

    Doughty also looked impressive during the 2010 Olympic games winning Gold with Team Canada.

    After a slow start this season, Doughty has 30 points in 53 games this season and is helped a Kings team fight through a tough Western Conference race for the post-season.

    While teammate Jack Johnson signed a seven-year, $30.5 Million deal, Doughty will be looking for a big raise at season's end.

    Doughty's importance to the future of the Los Angeles Kings is paramount.

Keith Yandle

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    Keith Yandle's progressive rise over the last three seasons should net the Boston, Mass native a big contract this off-season.

    Coming off a two-year, $2.4 Million deal and a RFA, Yandle should make good on a new deal that should pay him more than the $1.2 Million he will earn this season.

    An effective quarterback for the Phoenix Coyotes power play, Yandle added 16 points on the man advantage last season during 82 games. This season, Yandle had 23 points in only 60 games and has steadily improved his point totals over the last three seasons.

    In 2008-09, Yandle had 30 points. In 2009-10, he added 29 assists. That trend continues this season as Yandle has 41 assists, the same amount of points he finished with in 82 games last season.

    Sitting with 51 points in 60 games, Yandle leads the NHL in scoring amongst defenders.

    Yandle also had a 10 game point streak from January 11th to February 1st before the Coyotes lost 6-0 to Vancouver.

James Wisniewski

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    James Wisniewski is a player who has done some traveling over the last few seasons. The former 5th round draft choice of the Chicago Blackhawks in 2002 was traded to Anaheim in 2009 and traded again in 2010 to New York before landing in Montreal at the end of December.

    Over that time, Wisniewski has had his fair share of situations ranging from two suspensions, two trades and a nasty facial cut as a result of a puck being deflected into his face.

    Nevertheless, Wisneiwski has shown his ability to handle the puck and make great offensive plays with it. Able to make a great first pass, Wisniewski may have found a home in Montreal.

    The Habs only have P.K. Subban and Jaro Spacek under contract after this season.

    Kudos to Wisniewski for sticking with it, and for playing the next game after that nasty facial cut in an outdoor game in- 20 degree weather, no less.

    Wisniewski's one-year deal that pays him $3.25 Million is up at season's end and he will be a UFA. Only 26 years old, Wisniewski could be in position to land a bigger contract for next season.

    He was leading the New York Islanders in scoring at the time of his trade to Montreal and has quietly regained some of his defensive game under Habs Head Coach Jacques Martin.

Mike Green

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    Mike Green has one more year to go a four-year, $21 Million deal he signed with the Capitals. Green will remain a RFA and will earn $5.25 Million this season and in his final year.

    The impact of Dustin Byfulgien's deal might be significant to Green after his term is up due to the potential impact it will have on other RFA's that are scheduled this season.

    After Drew Doughty and Shea Weber, Green— with Big Buf's assistance, might cash in the most.

    The Calgary native has posted 244 points in 365 career games with the Caps. His career +58 and career 41 power play goals and 72 career power play assists make his worth to the Caps that much more impressive.

Tobias Enstrom

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    Byfuglien's teammate in Atlanta is scheduled to be an UFA in 2012-13.

    Currently in a four-year. $15 Million deal, the 26 year old Enstrom will certainly benefit from Big Buf's deal by having Big Buf helping him, literally.

    They are regular defense partners and play on the Thrashers first power play unit.

    While a few season's away, Enstrom who is currently five points away from his total all of last season (50) is poised to be a big part of the future success of the Thrashers.

Alex Pietrangelo

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    Alex Pietrangelo has had a delayed route to the NHL. The Blues first round selection in 2008, Pietrangelo was not rushed to the NHL, instead he was returned to Junior to finish out his junior career.

    This season Pietrangelo's value to the St. Louis has allowed GM Doug Armstrong to deal the Blues top defenseman and Captain Eric Brewer.

    Along with recently acquired defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, the Blues look to have a very good set-up on the back end for the foreseeable future.

    While Pietrangelo sit has two years remaining on his entry level deal, the possibility that Big Buf's contract might come into play when it's Pietrangelo's time to renew.

    Only 21 years old, his potential at 25 could be substantial. Pietrangelo currently earns $3.16 Million/season with bonuses and will be a RFA after the 2012-13 season.

Brent Burns

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    At 6-5 and over 220 lbs, Brent Burns is a big skilled player who could possibly play forward. Actually he once did.

    Playing for the Brampton Battalion in he OHL, Burns played right wing and at times, defense. The versatile Burns was a dilemma for the Wild after they selected the Burns in the 1st round in the 2003 entry draft.

    Where to play him.

    After a small apprenticeship in the AHL, Burns was converted to defense and has not looked back. His big shot and skilled vision of the ice make him an excellent student of defense.

    Brent posted 15 goals and 43 points in 2007-08 and has followed that up with three season of at least 20 points.

    Not bad considering he has missed a bulk of time with injuries, most notably concussions and knee problems.

    Those days seem behind the All-Star as he has 35 points in 57 games for the Wild.

    With his four-year, $14.2 Million dollar deal coming to end after next season, if Burns continues his great play he will certainly land a nice contract.

    Burns, who is 25 years old will be a UFA after the 2011-12 season.

Kevin Shattenkirk

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    Now a member of the St. Louis Blues, Kevin Shattenkirk will become a RFA after the 2012-13 season.

    The 22 year old earns $1.3 Million this season and is still in his entry level deal with the Blues.

    The potential for Shattenkirk and the Blues over the next few years could yield this former first round selection a huge deal.

    With Alex Pietrangelo, Shattenkirk has an opportunity to excel even more than what he has already accomplished in his short time in Colorado.

    This might be one of those trades that Colorado regrets making, but only time and opportunity will tell.

    For Shattenkirk it could be that he develops into a prime defenseman.