On Wednesday they started to unload contracts and create space by sending Dustin Byfuglien, Brent Sopel, Ben Eager and minor leaguer Akim Aliu to the Atlanta Thrashers in exchange for a first round pick, a second round pick, prospect Jeremy Morin and veteran forward Marty Reasoner.
The two draft picks (Nos. 24 and 54) originally belonged to New Jersey, and were acquired during last February's trade that sent Ilya Kovalchuk to the Devils.
The move should clear a few million in cap space for the 'Hawks, as Byfuglien and Sopel combined to take up over $5 million in cap space for this upcoming season, while Eager is a restricted free agent. Reasoner is on the hook for approximately $1.15 million.
While creating cap space is a top priority for Chicago, Atlanta is dealing with the opposite problem. It was announced on Wednesday the official cap numbers for 2010-11 include a salary cap floor of $43.4 million. Prior to this trade, the Thrashers had just under $30 million accounted for.
It was reported earlier in the week by ESPN's Pierre LeBrun that Chicago's asking price was a first-round pick and a prospect for Byfuglien, and this trade seems to have accomplished that objective. Along with the two draft picks, the Blackhawks also received Morin, Atlanta's second round pick (No. 45 overall) in 2009. He spent this past season playing for the Kitchener Rangers of the Ontario Hockey League, scoring 47 goals (to go with 36 assists) in 53 games. The goal total was good enough for second on the team (trailing only Jeff Skinner, a potential first-round pick on Friday) while the point total was third.
The other prospect involved in the deal, Aliu, spent this year split between Rockford of the AHL and Toledo of the ECHL. He tallied 16 goals and 15 assists in 63 games.