HabsWorld.net -- 

The Habs made their second deal in the last week on Thursday, picking up
Brent Sopel and Nigel Dawes from Atlanta in exchange for Ben Maxwell and a 4th
round pick.  The deal once again adds to the blueline depth amidst reports
that Jaroslav Spacek is out for the year.  Our writers have pondered the
deal both from the perspectives of both the Habs and Bulldogs and offer up their

Mark Della Posta: I’m not a fan of this deal.  I’m not convinced
that Sopel will be significantly more useful than Weber or Picard. I understand that
he has Stanley Cup winning experience, but he was the 6th d-man in Chicago. As
for Nigel Dawes, I don’t see him as an improvement over Dustin Boyd, who was
traded for in the offseason. Although I don’t believe that Ben Maxwell would
ever have been a full-time pro in Montreal, I feel that the Habs should have at
least swapped him for a pick. I don’t for a second believe that this team can
get through the Flyers without Andrei Markov and Josh Gorges, so they might as well let the
kids play and hope they’re ready for next season.

Matt Dilworth: This is a smart move in my opinion; the Habs shore up
their blueline without giving up
too much in the asset department.  Sopel should be a good fit in Montreal, and
is an adequate replacement for the injured Gorges.  He blocks shots,
eats up penalty-kill time and can offer up a physical game on occasion. 
Factor in his Cup ring, his reportedly good, team-first attitude, and we Habs
fans can breathe a collective sigh of relief without having to worry about
seeing any more Bulldogs in the lineup come crunch time. 

The minor-league swap, Ben Maxwell for Nigel Dawes, doesn’t get me too
excited, but it’s likely a good move for both teams.  Maxwell wasn’t going to
achieve any more in Hamilton or Montreal, and he may get a fair shot in
Atlanta.  Dawes, who I always recall playing well against the
Habs, provides good forward depth and is NHL-ready.  Despite his diminutive
size, I always thought that Dawes played bigger than his listed height, and
time will tell if he can generate any chemistry with his former Calgary
teammate, Dustin Boyd. 

With these moves, I feel that Gauthier has covered the bare minimum of the
Canadiens’ needs, and I’m interested to see if there is any more roster
tweaking to be done.

Brian La Rose: Sopel should fit in well with the Habs as he’s a more
prototypical defensive player that will pair up better with Hal Gill, allowing
P.K. Subban to play more of an open game.  The fact that he sits in the
top-10 in the NHL in blocked shots means he will fit well in a defensive system
that is known for blocking more shots than most teams.  As for losing
Maxwell, I had noted earlier in the week that the decision had to be made as to
whether he was going to be an NHL’er with the Habs next season.  If he
wasn’t, then his value was at its peak.  He’s going to get a good look in
Atlanta, but with players like Andreas Engqvist passing him on the depth chart
this year, the writing was on the wall for him.  I like the Dawes throw-in
here, Hamilton needed a body to replace Maxwell, their leading active scorer. 
The Bulldogs still need some more help but this was a good start.

Michael R.: This trade is by no means a blockbuster but it also has
very little risk.  Montreal only gave up a prospect who didn’t look likely to
make the team in the near future and a 4th round pick.  In return they get a
very serviceable defenseman in Sopel who can log minutes on the penalty kill and
block shots which should free up Subban to concentrate on the power play.  He is
also a plus player on a team full of minuses which says a lot.  The Habs also
got a former member of the 2005 gold medal winning WJHC team and prolific
goal-scorer in the WHL in Dawes.  Up to this point he hasn’t been able to
continue his goal-scoring ways in the NHL but he can be a useful third line
winger if called upon.  Overall it was a good, if underwhelming, trade.

Ian Russell: Just as the players all do, with the Trade Deadline only
a few days away now, I have been anxiously waiting to see what moves the
Montreal Canadiens are going to make within the organization.  When I found
out about this one, I must admit that I had a very brief moment of panic knowing
that Maxwell had been dealt.  As a Bulldogs Season Ticket Holder living in
Hamilton, I sit and I watch the Bulldogs play several nights each week and over
time we get to personally know the players through meet and greet opportunities
and so forth, so it always comes as a difficult moment when the news breaks that
one of the guys has been dealt to another team.  The first thing that usually
comes to mind is the reaction of "Oh, No!! what are they doing??"  But of
course, that’s the business of hockey and the trades which try to make the teams
involved more improved. 

With the call-ups to Montreal and the injuries which have run through both
the Habs and the Dogs this season, a move obviously had to be made to help out
both teams.  As Brian wrote in his article
here on
about the Trade Deadline preview of the prospects, Maxwell was rated with
top trade odds and I must agree.  He has been a constant player on the
scoresheet throughout the season with 11 goals, 29 assists, and 40 points.  I
hate to see him go but I have to say that for what Montreal is getting in
return, I like this trade.  Sopel will be a good addition to the
Montreal defence, a proven NHL player who has won the Stanley Cup.  For
Hamilton, Dawes comes to the Bulldogs ranked 3rd overall in the American Hockey
League in goals.  His stats currently stand at 27 goals, 17 assists, and 44
points.  If he can continue this level of play he will be an offensive force for
the Dogs.  The addition of Dawes to the lineup may also be just what
Dustin Boyd, his ex-linemate in Calgary, needs to find his scoring touch once