The Atlanta Thrashers sent defenseman Brent Sopel and forward Nigel Dawes to the Montreal Canadiens today in exchange for forward prospect Ben Maxwell and a 4th round pick in 2011. It was announced today by General Manager Rick Dudley.
Maxwell, 22, has registered 40 points in 47 contests this season with the Hamilton Bulldogs of the American Hockey League. Originally selected by the Montreal Canadiens in the 2nd round, 49th overall in the 2006 NHL entry draft, the North Vancouver, British Columbia native will join the Atlanta Thrashers organization after scoring 142 points in 177 games played in the AHL.
“Ben Maxwell is a skilled guy that I personally and most of our staff feel has a real chance to be a point-producing forward in the National Hockey League,” Dudley said when speaking with the media this afternoon.
After four seasons with the Kootenay Ice of the Western Hockey League, the 6’0 180 lb. forward joined the Hamilton Bull Dogs, Montreal’s top minor league affiliate. Maxwell has since skated in 20 NHL games with the parent club and had struggled to find the score sheet, totalling zero goals and zero points.
Early indications are that Maxwell will join the Thrashers farm club, the Chicago Wolves of the American Hockey League, but will at some point join the Thrashers this season.
As for the departures out of Atlanta, Brent Sopel will leave the Thrashers having only played in 59 games since coming over in the Blockbuster trade, after winning the stanley cup with the Chicago Blackhawks. Sopel contributed to the score sheet seven times (two goals, five assists).
A trade was a likely scenario at some point following the four player Swap with the Boston Bruins last week. Newcomer Mark Stuart put the Thrashers at a total of Seven NHL defenseman with several players in Chicago more then capable of playing an emergency role in Atlanta.
” It was really about moving an older guy who was a group III free agent and a situation where we had seven defensemen on our roster, and giving opportunities to our young guys,” Dudley said.
Nigel Dawes, having spent 9 games with the Atlanta Thrashers this season, recorded one helper in 9 games played. Through 47 games played with the Chicago Wolves he posted 27 goals and 44 points. The Winnepeg, Manitoba native was signed as an unrestricted free agent back in September.
With the trade deadline looming, look for GM Rick Dudley to continue to improve the parent club and the organizational depth.