The Montreal Canadiens have acquired defenceman Brent Sopel and forward Nigel Dawes from the Atlanta Thrashers in exchange for forward prospect Ben Maxwell and a fourth round draft pick.
The acquisition of the 34-year old Sopel should help the Canadiens with their injury concerns on the blueline. Although the Calgary native has been a healthy scratch recently and has only two goals and five assists on the season, he did help the Chicago Blackhawks capture the Stanley Cup last season. In 647 career games split between the Canucks, Islanders, Kings, Blackhawks and Thrashers, Sopel has 44 goals and 174 assists and is plus 33 for his career.
"Brent is a battler," said Montreal coach Jacques Martin. "He's more of a defensive-minded individual. He got good experience last year winning a Cup and he was a plus player this year in Atlanta."
Sopel's strength's are his shot blocking abilities and penalty killing skills, something the Canadiens have been lacking since the double-loss of Andrei Markov and Josh Gorges earlier in the season.
Sopel seemed excited about the deal, posting the following message on his personal Twitter account, @BrentSopel: "Off to Montreal - let the games begin!!"
Meanwhile, the 26-year old Dawes has spent the majority of the season with Chicago of the AHL. He has one assist in nine games with the Thrashers this season.
The Winnipeg native was originally selected in the fifth round, 149th overall, by the New York Rangers in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft. He has collected 39 goals and 45 assists in 208 career games with the Rangers, Coyotes, Flames and Thrashers.
Sopel is expected to join the team tonight, however it is not yet known if he will be in the lineup to face the Maple Leafs, while Dawes will report to Hamilton of the AHL.
In Maxwell the Thrashers acquire a 22-year prospect who has spent his entire season with Hamilton of the AHL but has been held scoreless 20 career games spread over two seasons for the Canadiens. He has 11 goals and 29 assists in 47 games with the Hamilton Bulldogs this season.
The North Vancouver native was originally a second round pick, 49th overall, by the Habs in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft.