Not exactly an accolade, but any attention for the Thrashers and any motivation for their slumping star defenseman is a good thing. NHL.com named Dustin Byfuglien as one of their first half revelations for the season:
Thrashers GM Rick Dudley acquired Byfuglien from Chicago with the intention of playing him on the blue line. Byfuglien, of course, gave the Blackhawks their immovable netfront presence in last year’s Stanley Cup Playoffs, so moving him back to defense, albeit his natural position, seemed like a strange move considering the overwhelming success the big guy had up front.
Byfuglien has given Dudley reason to brag because he’s been one of the best defensemen in the NHL for most of the season.
Until a recent scoring slump Byfuglien was leading all blueliners in points and was at the center of the early season Norris Trophy talk. He hasn’t scored in 10 games and is a minus-5 over the span, but one slump doesn’t erase what Byfuglien has been able to accomplish this season.
“He’s a better defenseman than forward,” Dudley told NHL.com. “(Chicago) moved him to forward and, to be honest with you, put him in a spot — partly because they had a good defense anyway — because he did pretty well with it and they were satisfied with that. I never was. I thought he was much more than that.”
Also part of the team: Chicago Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford, Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang, and forwards Clarke MacArthur of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Ryan Kesler of the Vancouver Canucks, and Brandon Dubinsky of the New York Rangers.