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.
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.