GM: trade was 'simply a salary cap move'

Two witching hour conference calls confirmed the trade between the Blackhawks and Thrashers early Thursday morning.

Both Stan Bowman and Rick Dudley, Atlanta's GM, spoke of the blockbuster that was consummated after what Dudley said was up to “50 phone calls” between the two General Managers. Bowman said it took “many hours” and in the end it was “simply a salary cap move.”

“It’s exactly what we set out to accomplish,” Bowman said. “To get some draft choices. … There were a lot of other considerations and we’re satisfied where we ended up.”

Bowman admitted there was interest in Byfuglien from around the league, believing his great postseason was still fresh in people’s minds. For Dudley’s part, he thinks Byfuglien has emerged as one of the better power forwards in the league and also sees an increased role for Ben Eager, who he praised as a solid forechecker.

Bowman intimated he may not be done making deals but he’s no longer backed into a corner.

“We’ll explore other ways to make changes ... [we] don’t necessarily have to do anything else,” he said.

Dudley said he plans on trying to keep Byfuglien and Eager long term but will take a wait and see approach with Brent Sopel due to his age.

Bowman indicated the Hawks would try to replace Byfuglien and Eager’s size in-house but didn’t rule out a newcomer or two when free-agency opens on July 1.