The Atlanta Thrashers have acquired Forward Blake Wheeler and Defenseman Mark Stuart from the Boston Bruins in exchange for forward Rich Peverley and minor league defenseman Boris Valabik. It was announced today by General Manager Rick Dudley.
In what was a busy morning of anticipating the long awaited trade that eventually would send Toronto Defenseman Tomas Kaberle to the Boston Bruins in exchange for top prospect Joe Colborne, a 2011 1st round pick and a conditional pick, the deal was contingent upon Boston General Manager Peter Chiarelli clearing necessary cap space in order to finalize a deal that has been discussed for sometime now.
Factor in the Atlanta Thrashers, a team that has been searching for help up front and on the blueline since General Manager Rick Dudley voiced his concern with the media several weeks back in regards to the overall team play.
A move was anticipated and today it became a reality. Not having to overpay, Rick Dudley moved forward Rich Peverley and disgruntled D-man Boris Valabik to bring in 2-players who can help them now and potentially down the road.
Blake Wheeler, 24, is a Minnesota native playing in his third season in the NHL. A former 1st round pick of the Phoenix Coyotes, 5th overall in the 2004 draft, Wheeler has 11 goals and 15 assists through 58 games played with Boston this season. The 6’5 205 lb right winger, is strong on the puck, has good speed and works well in the corners, making him a solid addition on the wing for the Thrashers.
Mark Stuart, 26, is another former 1st round pick selected by the Boston Bruins in 2003. Stuart will play a crucial stay at home role for the Thrashers, adding a physical element to the blueline. He is capable of logging valuable minutes. The Rochester, Minnesota native is also know for his leadership in the dressing room and on the ice.
“This deal improves our hockey club in both the short and long term,” General Manager Rick Dudley said today. With Blake Wheeler, we are getting a versatile two-way forward and Mark Stuart will help our already strong group of defensemen as we make a push towards the playoffs.”
Wheeler and Stuart will be reunited with Head Coach Craig Ramsey. Ramsey was an assistant in Boston and had the opportunity to coach both newcomers.
Ramsey labeled Blake Wheeler as solid on the Penalty Kill and with good offensive skills, should help out the power play. Coach Ramsey is also excited about the grit Mark Stuart brings to the lineup and recognized his good puck moving ability and ability to join rushes.
Both players are in route to Edmonton and expected to be available for tomorrow’s 3:30pm game against the Edmonton Oilers.
As for the players moved this afternoon, there wasn’t any indication of defenseman Boris Valabik ever wearing the Thrasher sweater again. Valabik skated in 49 games for the Chicago Wolves of the AHL this season putting up 9 points and racking up 165 Penalty minutes.
Rich Peverley appeared in all 59 games played this season in Atlanta scoring 14 goals and adding 20 assists. Peverley appeared to be in the dog house in recent weeks and was demoted to 4th line duties before rejoining the 3rd line. Peverley, originally claimed off waivers from the Nashville Predators was a solid winger for the Thrashers and will have an opportunity to regain his scoring touch with the Boston Bruins.