Thrashers give Byfuglien contract extension

Sports Network

, Last Updated: 4:58 PM ET

ATLANTA -- The Atlanta Thrashers locked up a key piece of their roster Tuesday, signing All-Star defenseman Dustin Byfuglien to a multi- year extension.

Terms of the contract were not disclosed, but the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports the deal is for five years and worth $26 million.

"Dustin has emerged into an elite player this season and been invaluable as a leader both on and off the ice," said Thrashers general manager Rick Dudley. "It was a priority to sign him and we're looking forward to witnessing his All-Star caliber play for many years to come."

The 25-year-old Byfuglien helped lead Chicago to a Stanley Cup title last June, the Blackhawks' first Cup since 1961. The 6-foot-5, 265-pound blueliner recorded 11 goals and 16 points in 22 postseason games, after posting 17 goals and 17 assists in 82 regular-season contests.

But he was then sent to the Thrashers as part of a seven-player trade on June 24, just 15 days after celebrating the championship.

A forward with Chicago, Byfuglien became a defenseman with his new club and immediately succeeded at his new position. He has registered 17 goals and 26 assists in 58 games this season, and was named an All-Star for the first time.

A native of Minneapolis, Byfuglien was selected in the eighth round of the 2003 NHL Entry Draft by Chicago and has registered 72 goals and 80 helpers in 318 career games with the Blackhawks and Thrashers.


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