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Habs add some muscle in the form of Brent Sopel

Posted By Corey Krakower On Feb 24 2011 @ 2:11 pm In Montreal Canadiens | 4 Comments

The Montreal Canadiens have finally entered the trade market.

GM Pierre Gauthier has traded prospect Ben Maxwell and a 4th round pick to the Atlanta Thrashers for veteran defenseman Brent Sopel and Nigel Dawes. Brent is a solid right-handed defensive defenseman who won a cup with the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2010 playoffs. His cap hit of just over $2 million leaves Montreal with enough space to add a forward, although any further trade will require Montreal to give up a roster player. On the other hand, this trade could mean Jaroslav Spacek is out longer than expected (perhaps the plan it to place him on LTIR), but that is just speculation at this point. Nigel Dawes was simply a “throw-in” in this deal. He will most likely be assigned to Hamilton shortly. Both Sopel and Dawes carry expiring contracts and will be UFAs this summer.

Maxwell was a 2nd round pick in 2006 and he has the distinction of being the player drafted right before Milan Lucic. Injuries have stalled his career, and the emergence of David Desharnais made Maxwell expendable.

I reported yesterday that Ottawa and Montreal had discussed a possible trade of Chris Phillips and Alex Kovalev to the Habs. It is not a coincidence that on the same day Kovalev was dealt to another team, Montreal acquired a defenseman. All indications are that Phillips will be staying in Ottawa, so consider this part of Montreal’s Plan B. The Canadiens are expected to acquire a winger between now and the deadline.

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