Thrashers deal for Dvorak; re-sign Stuart

ATLANTA -- The Thrashers moved Monday to retain a newly-acquired piece whom they seem to like and to part with one who was having trouble finding his place in the organization.

They re-signed defenseman Mark Stuart, 26, to what the team called a "multiple-year contract." The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported the deal was three years and $5.1 million.

They also traded right wing Niclas Bergfors, 23, a member of the 2010 All-Rookie team, to Florida for right wing Radek Dvorak, who will be 34 next week.

In four games with Atlanta, Stuart has been even twice and minus-1 twice. He has averaged 14:38 during the past three games and become a mainstay on the penalty kill, a unit that ranked No. 28 entering Sunday's games. During those three games, the Thrashers have not allowed a power-play goal, killing all 12 chances.

He delivered two big hits in a 3-2 comeback victory on Sunday against Toronto -- an area of the game that was sorely lacking from the Thrashers' defense corps.

Stuart came to Atlanta on Feb. 18 from Boston along with forward Blake Wheeler for forward Rich Peverley and minor-league defenseman Boris Valabik. His brother Colin was in the Thrashers' organization for several seasons and he said he has immediately taken a liking to the team and the area.

Prior to taking over as Thrashers coach last June, Craig Ramsay worked with Stuart for three seasons as an assistant coach on the Bruins.

"It was nice," Stuart said. "Coming here I didn't really expect anything. Just try to come in and play well and help the team. I like it here a lot. I've only been here a short time, but I'm very comfortable here and I like the people and I think the team has a lot of potential."

Unlike Stuart, who has seemed to fit in seamlessly, Bergfors struggled all season to do the same, though he totaled 11 goals and 18 assists in 52 games. He was also minus-11. He was a key component of the Thrashers' trade last season in which Ilya Kovalchuk was shipped to the New Jersey Devils.

The Thrashers also sent minor-league Patrick Rissmiller to Florida in the deal and received a fifth-round pick from the Panthers.

After making the trade for Wheeler, 24, and Stuart, Thrashers general manager Rick Dudley said he would not trade for a 35-year-old, but Dvorak almost fits that bill.

Dvorak has plenty of playoff experience -- he was a rookie on the 1996 Panthers team that played in the Stanley Cup Final -- but not as much production. In 39 career playoff games, he has 2 goals and 5 assists, but is a plus-1.

Most likely, he will play on the team's third line. He has 7 goals and 14 assists in 53 games this season for Florida, which is one of the League's lowest-scoring teams.

Bergfors' ice time had decreased precipitously in recent weeks. In the past nine games, he topped more than 12 minutes of time on ice only three times and twice he played less than 10 minutes. He also was a minus in six of those games -- though the entire team has struggled mightily, winning just twice in that span. He lost his spot on the top line to Wheeler and also was getting less time on the power play.

Dudley last week had said he thought Ramsay was trying to send Bergfors a message through his ice time, but conceded that Bergfors can score and that he was getting calls on him.