First-year GM Rick Dudley made his move early, acquiring 24-year-old wing Blake Wheeler and stay-at-home defender Mark Stuart for center Rich Peverley and defenseman Boris Valabik. While the move is basically a two-for-one — Valabik had been unable to carve a spot on the Thrashers defense and had gone through waivers unclaimed earlier in the season — moving Peverley has left Atlanta thin at center. Don't be surprised if there's another move in the works.
Needs: Peverley had come back down to Earth after a great year last season, but he was still Atlanta's top scoring center. So there's a definite need at center, especially with Alexander Burmistrov out with a broken foot. Dudley has a huge bargaining chip in Zach Bogosian, who has come up in trade rumors.
While Atlanta insists they're not actively shopping the former third overall pick, they do have eight capable blueliners and nearly $17 million already committed to four of them next season. Further complicating matters is Bogosian's RFA status this coming offseason.
Prediction: It makes sense (numbers-wise) to move Bogosian, but I don't think Dudley will, at least not until the offseason. He could use pending RFA Niclas Bergfors as a bargaining chip to land a center, and could even repackage Stuart to another team. Brent Sopel could be included in a deal as well.