The NHL has its official story up on the deal (leaving out Ben Eager completely as part of the trade – good fact checking there, NHL.com!), as does former Thrashers beat reporter Craig Custance, now of The Sporting News. The NHL’s piece is a puff piece to be sure, but it does have a few interesting quotes from Dudley in it.
“We have an edict in Atlanta that we want to win now,” he said. “We wanted to get some people who were young and who will be with us for a while.” Apparently Dudley got an edict from on high from the Atlanta Spirit of “WIN NOW.” Last time we got said edict, we wound up getting Zhitnik for Coburn and trading away lots of picks and whatnot for Keith Tkachuk. This go around though there was more to choose from that could help the franchise long term, and Dudley’s good working relationship with Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman helped facilitate the trade. Dudley is looking to use his good relationships around the league to land the Thrashers a 20 goal scorer as well. The free-agent market just dwindled a bit with the Sharks’ re-signing of Marleau and Pavelski, so it’s either Poni, Kovy, or trade. My money’s leaning on trade.
Custance has always been one to wrangle good quotes out of people, and he’s also still one of the most trusted resources on the Thrashers along with Keven Allen of USA Today – mostly because they actually pay attention to the team and what goes on here, which is a more novel concept than one would expect. Anyway, this is the quote that, when released, caused a twitter around Twitter:
“I think what we saw in the playoffs is the Dustin Byfuglien that has been evolving for some time now. As a forward, he’s one of the premiere power forwards in the league. He’s capable of 25-30 goals, at least.”
A lot of Hawks fans laughed at this and called Dudley silly for believing the playoff hype of Buff. That’s understandable. He’s a streaky player who tries when he wants to. What we saw in the playoffs was Dustin Byfuglien at his best. It’s going to remain to be seen if the Thrashers will bring that out in him. It’s going to be a bit of an adjustment for him, but Odyua and Bergfors made it and like playing here now, so Buff shouldn’t have a problem.
Also, Craig Ramsay was just officially hired as coach – here’s the press release.