Pretty simple move here, the Montreal Canadiens acquire Brent Sopel and Nigel Dawes in exchange for Ben Maxwell and a fourth round pick in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. While on paper this move may not seem to effect fantasy fortunes, the Habs get much stronger on the blue line, similar to how the Tampa Bay Lightning improved by grabbing Eric Brewer.
Although Sopel drew the short end of the stick with the Thrashers’ addition of Mark Stuart, his shot-blocking ability should not be overlooked as he currently places 10th in the League with 139 through 59 games. Those totals eclipse anyone on the Habs, outranking veteran Roman Hamrlik by nine. More importantly he adds an element that the team lost when stalwart Josh Gorges went down for the rest of the regular season.
Chalk this move up to a smart hockey decision as the Canadiens now hold eight solid NHL defenseman which should provide depth for further injuries. With the team trying to break out of a slump in the stretch drive depth will prove itself important.
In addition, this deal could carry even more fantasy relevance besides Sopel.
As our esteemed staff writer Chris Wassel notes, Nigel Dawes may once again carry some fantasy value. While playing with the Chicago Wolves of the AHL, the diminutive forward put together 27 goals in only 47 games played. He also scored 14 goals last year with the Calgary Flames.
Considering the Habs currently roster a few minor league projects like David Desharnais and Ryan White, Dawes might at one point get another chance. Nevertheless, he will report directly to the Hamilton Bulldogs making his immediate impact somewhat void.
Similarly, Ben Maxwell receives another shot at cracking an NHL roster although he too will start in the AHL.
Known for not getting his chance until Jacques Martin, Maxwell is now considered the top callup from Chicago. The former second round pick played in 13 games last year and seven the year before, putting together only eight PIMs. His upside seems to be a third or fourth line player as he excels defensively and is known to be a hard-worker.
Similar to most deals made, this one proves to be yet another good hockey deal in which the Thrashers trade two unnecessary pieces and grab two wanted assets and the Habs gain depth by giving up very little.
In summary… (line changes)
Thrashers: Stuart fits in well with the up-and-coming Thrashers, bringing their team some added toughness without sacrificing his overall play. His addition made Sopel expendable, so naturally he will continue to pair with Johnny Oduya in his place.
Canadiens: Paul Mara, Alexandre Picard and Yannick Weber will all be challenged by the addition of Sopel.
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