The Islanders have acquired defenseman Brent Sopel from the Vancouver Canucks in exchange for a conditional selection in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft. The 28-year old Sopel had 10 goals and 32 assists for 42 points all career bests in 80 games in 2003-04 with the Canucks.
Sopel's 42 points placed him 15th among NHL defensemen. He was the Canucks' leader on the blueline in assists and points. He also took 173 shots, was plus-11, scored six power play goals and averaged just under 22 minutes played per game.
"Brent is a polished defenseman just entering the prime of his career after improving in his development with each season in Vancouver," said Islanders general manager Mike Milbury. "Our scouts feel strongly that, like Alexei Zhitnik and Janne Niinimaa, Brent will excel under the new rules changes."
In 302 career NHL games, all with Vancouver, Sopel is 32-93-125 with 129 penalty minutes. The Saskatoon native has been a regular on the Vancouver blueline for each of the last three seasons after developing in the Canucks system with their AHL affiliate in Syracuse. His offensive output has increased in each of the last three seasons: 27 points in 2001-02, 37 points in 2002-03 and 42 points in 2003-04.
The teams have agreed to the following conditions of the trade: if the Islanders sign Sopel beyond the 2005-06 season, they will give the Canucks a second round pick in the 2006 draft. If they do not sign him, the Islanders will give Vancouver their third round pick instead.
The 6-1, 210-pound Sopel was originally a sixth round selection of the Canucks in the 1995 NHL Entry Draft.