Bruins ship Wheeler, Stuart to Atlanta for Peverley, Valabik

{eot} Staff
2/18/2011 2:50:13 PM
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With defenceman Tomas Kaberle in the fold, the Boston Bruins made another big deal sending forward Blake Wheeler and defenceman Mark Stuart to the Atlanta Thrashers in exchange for centre Rich Peverley and defenceman Boris Valabik.

"This deal improves our hockey club in both the short and long-term," general manager Rick Dudley said. "With Blake Wheeler, we are getting a versatile two-way forward, and Mark Stuart will help anchor our already strong group of defensemen as we make a push toward the playoffs."

In his third season in the NHL, Wheeler has 11 goals and 15 assists with a plus-8 rating through 58 games. He recorded a goal and four assists in his last seven games for the B's.

"It's the way it works and I think it's something that's been brewing here for a while, and I think they finally accomplished what they wanted to," Wheeler siad. "You just have to turn the page and take it for what it's worth and move on."

Wheeler has only missed one game since breaking into the NHL at the start of the 2008-09 season. During his rookie campaign, he posted 21 goals and 24 assists, and ranked second in the league with a plus-36 rating. Wheeler has appeared in 21 career Stanley Cup Playoff games, registering one goal and five assists.

"It's tough because you know what (the Bruins are) capable of, but at the same time we're going to a situation where we still have a lot of opportunity."

Drafted by the Phoenix Coyotes in the first round (5th overall) of the 2004 NHL Entry Draft, Wheeler signed a one-year deal with the Bruins last July and becomes a restricted free agent this summer.

Stuart, a healthy scratch in Thursday's 6-3 victory over the Islanders, has one goal and two assists with a plus-5 rating in his final five games with the Bruins.

The 26-year-old defenceman is in his sixth season in the NHL, all with the the Bruins, who drafted him in the first round (21st overall) of the 2003 NHL Entry Draft.

"It's bittersweet," said Stuart. "I spent my whole career in Boston and I really enjoyed it. I'm going to miss the guys a lot but I'm also excited about the opportunity."

Stuart missed 18 games this season with a fractured right finger.

Prior to his professional career, Stuart played three seasons at Colorado College, scoring 12 goals and 42 assists in 118 games, captaining the team to a Frozen Four berth as a junior in 2004-05. That same season, he was named the WCHA's Defensive Player of the Year was and a First Team West All-America selection.

Stuart also captained Team USA to its first ever Gold Medal at the 2004 World Junior Championships, and also to its first ever Gold Medal at the 2002 World Under-18 Championships.

Peverley, 28, appeared in all 59 games for the Thrashers this season, scoring 14 goals and 20 assists. He was claimed off waivers from the Nashville Predators on Jan. 10, 2009, and played in 180 consecutive games for Atlanta, posting 49 goals and 75 assists.

Valabik, 25, has seen action in 49 games with the AHL's Chicago Wolves and has contributed with nine assists and 165 penalty minutes. Valabik has also competed in 80 career games with the Thrashers (2007-08 to 2009-10) posting seven assists along with 210 penalty minutes.

The Nitra, Slovakia, native was originally selected by the Thrashers in the first round, 10th overall, of the 2004 NHL Entry Draft.

Blake Wheeler (Photo: The Canadian Press)


(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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