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Stanley Cup Final

With Byfuglien signed, Dudley turns to the deadline

Tuesday, 02.15.2011 / 7:33 PM

By David Kalan - NHL.com Staff Writer / Road to Trade Deadline Day

Dustin Byfuglien's contract extension with Atlanta could serve to be a major moment for a franchise that has struggled to be consistently competitive in its 12-year history. The Thrashers have made just one postseason appearance, a Southeast Division title in 2007, but his team on the playoff bubble this season, Thrashers GM Rick Dudley said Tuesday that he is looking to make a move.

While the team is searching for offense to bolster a potential playoff run, Dudley at admitted that despite his efforts, the search for the right move hasn't yielded any fruit just yet.

"I only know that I'm on the phone a lot," Dudley said. "It's not an easy time in history to do trades."

"You have to be patient enough to not do something that's going to harm the team in its long term while helping the team in its short term."
-- Thrashers GM Rick Dudley

The extension to Byfuglien means that Atlanta has its top defensive pair locked up for at least two more seasons, as Tobias Enstrom is under contract through the 2012-13 season. Add 2008 first round draft pick Zach Bogosian into the mix and Atlanta's future looks to be in good hands as far as the blue line is concerned, but the team could certainly use help at forward, both down the middle and on the wing.

While Byfuglien and Enstrom lead the team with 43 and 42 points respectively, left wing Andrew Ladd's 42 points are the highest total of any forward. Bryan Little and Evander Kane have the next most production with 33 points each.

Given Atlanta's tremendous cap space -- the Thrashers are projected to have just under $18 million between their payroll and the League's salary limit -- there is almost no cap-driven restriction on who the team can acquire both this season and in the future.

Still, Dudley reinforced the guiding principle for him that making any move isn't as important as making the right one.

"It's difficult because you're in a playoff hunt," Dudley said. "But you have to be patient enough to not do something that's going to harm the team in its long term while helping the team in its short term. Those are trades that they can be made and we hope that we will make one here, but they haven't jumped off the page just yet."

Playing for my favorite team growing up, I've probably scored that goal a million times in my driveway. It feels good to actually do it in real life.

— Dale Weise, who grew up a Canadiens fan, on scoring the overtime winner in Montreal's 5-4 victory against Tampa Bay in Game 1