The Thrashers acquired forward Ben Maxwell and a fourth-round draft pick this year from Montreal in exchange for defenseman Brent Sopel and forward Nigel Dawes.
The move was announced shortly after Thrashers General Manager Rick Dudley addressed the media about his contract extension. Dudley said a trade was likely and the team would deal from its strength – seven NHL defenseman on the roster and two more capable in the minors.
Maxwell, 22, had 40 points (11 goals, 29 assists) in 47 games with AHL Hamilton. He ranks second on the team in points and assists, and ranks fourth in goals.
The 6-foot-1, 195-pound center has played 20 NHL games with Montreal. He was selected by the Canadiens in the second round, 49th overall, of the 2006 draft.
Sopel, 34, has appeared in 59 games with the Thrashers this season with seven points (two goals, five assists). He was acquired by the Thrashers from Chicago on June 24, 2010. He becomes the second of the four Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks obtained in the offseason to be traded again. Ben Eager was dealt to San Jose earlier this season.
Sopel announced the deal on Twitter by saying “Off to Montreal – let the games begin!!”
Sopel will be back in Atlanta on March 1 when the Canadiens play at Philips Arena.
Dawes, 26, recorded one assist in nine games, over three stints, with the Thrashers this season. He also had 44 points (27 goals, 17 assists) in 47 games for the Wolves.