By John Manasso FOXSportsSouth.com February 18, 2011
For weeks the Atlanta Thrashers needed a trade to shake things up, as they have won just six times in the last 60 days.
On Friday, they were able to do that in a trade with the Boston Bruins in which Atlanta received former fifth overall pick Blake Wheeler, a forward who scored 39 goals in his previous two seasons, and defenseman Mark Stuart, another former first-rounder who had been a healthy scratch eight times this season. Thrashers general manager Rick Dudley seems to have been able to pull off the deal, in part, because of a bigger trade that the Bruins were in the process of making for Toronto’s Tomas Kaberle.
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The Thrashers sent Rich Peverley, a 20-goal scorer last season who had fallen in the doghouse of late because of poor defensive play, and minor-league defenseman Boris Valabik, a former 10th overall pick who remains something of a project at 6-foot-7, to Boston.
Over the past few weeks, Dudley had talked about adding both a defenseman and scoring. He did both on Friday, acquiring young players in the process. Stuart is 26 and the 6-foot-5 Wheeler is 24.
“The deal today was clearly made to give us a jump start,” said Dudley, whose team began the day 10th in the Eastern Conference, two points out of the final playoff spot. “We’ve proven this year we can get on a significant roll.