The Montreal Canadiens made a deal today in hopes of bolstering an injury-ravaged blueline corps well as provide more grit to their checking lines, acquiring defenseman Brent Sopel and forward Nigel Dawes from the Atlanta Thrashers.
Heading to Atlanta is prospect forward Ben Maxwell and the Habs fourth round pick in 2011.
The 34-year-old Sopel was dealt to the Thrashers last summer as part of a muti-player deal with the Chicago Blackhawks. He's a good shot-blocking defensive blueliner who has considerable post-season experience, playing 22 post-season games in the 2010 playoffs helping the Blackhawks win the Stanley Cup.
Canadiens blueliners Andrei Markov and Josh Gorges are out for the season and Jaroslav Spacek is now out indefinitely with a lower body injury. Sopel, who'll be eligible for unrestricted free agency in July, should be a good, short-term fit on the Habs blueline.
Dawes, 26, signed with the Thrashers as an unrestricted free agent last season but spent much of this season in the minors, playing only 9 games this season. The Canadiens will be his fifth team since 2008-09, but he has proven in the past to be an energetic, versatile checking forward who can play either wing.
With Mathieu Darche out indefinitely to injury Dawes could take his spot on the Canadiens checking lines.
Maxwell, who's currently in the final season of a two-way contract, spent this season in the minors and will probably report to the Thrashers farm team. A second round pick of Montreal's in 2006, the 22-year-old has played only 20 NHL games since 2008-09.
For the Thrashers this moves clears a spot on their blueline for Marc Stuart, who was acquired late last week from the Boston Bruins in a multi-player trade, plus it clears out some cap space by removing the remainder of Sopel's salary from their books for this season.