In 1999 the Red Wings finally succeeded in bringing Butsayev to North America after failing the previous two summers. Many observers were surprised to see the young center win a job with the big club out of training camp. In 56 games that year with the Wings he scored five goals and eight points. Butsayev impressed the Detroit brass with his solid two-way play, excellent faceoff work and gritty, tenacious style. In 2000-01, Yuri got into 15 more games with the Red Wings and managed a goal and an assist.
The rest of his season was spent with the Cincinnati Mighty Ducks of the AHL where he excelled with 29 goals and 46 points in 54 games.
In the summer of 2001 the Red Wings were very active on the free-agent front signing veteran All-Star forwards Luc Robitialle and Brett Hull. As a result, the inexperienced Butsayev was limited to just three games with Detroit.
In 61 games with the Ducks Butsayev again exceeded the 20-goal mark but when the trade deadline rolled around the Red Wings, who were loading up for a Cup run, traded Butsayev to the Atlanta Thrashers.
With the Thrashers Butsayev found himself back up at the NHL level, however, over the next two seasons would split his time between the Thrashers and the team's AHL affiliate in Chicago.
Courtesy of the Hockey Hall of Fame
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