The first real “big” trade of the NHL season is upon us, and its two players who scored 35 goals last season changing hands. And would you look at that, we didn’t even need photoshop to find a picture of Ryder in a Habs jersey.
The Montreal Canadiens have traded right wing Erik Cole, 34 years old, (19 games, 3 goals, 3 assists, 6 points this season) to the Dallas Stars, in exchange for right wing, Michael Ryder, 32 years old, (19 games, 6 goals, 8 assists, 14 points this season).
Cole has 2 years after this season, remaining on his deal which carries a 4.5 million dollar cap hit. Ryder meanwhile is a free agent at the end of the season and a 3.5 million dollar cap hit.
In trading the two players, Dallas gets a more rugged power forward, as when Cole is at his best, he hits, and drives hard to the net. The long time Carolina Hurricane had a career year last season playing on a line with David Desharnais and Max Pacioretty, but the traditional slow starter in Cole was struggling to start the season and was recently placed on the third line. Dallas Stars advisor Bob Gainey is familiar with the player, as he was a Montreal Canadiens advisor when the team signed Cole as an unrestricted free agent on July 1st, 2011.
Ryder meanwhile returns for a second tour of duty with Les Canadiens, previously playing for the team from 2003 to 2008, where he had back to back 30 goal seasons after the 2004-05 lockout. In 2003-04 he was also a Calder Trophy Candidate, losing out to Andrew Raycroft. Ryder has always been known as a sniper, and his best asset is a tremendous wrist shot. As a right-handed shot, he can add some versatility to the Habs, especially on the powerplay.
Both players finished with career highs in goals last year, each hitting the 35 goal plateau. Ryder finished with 62 points (below his 03-04 total of 63 points), while Cole finished with 61 points which was tied for his career high with his 2006-07 season.
The big thing here is that the Canadiens gain valuable cap space in each of the next two years. For a team that was going to be awful close to a declining cap in 2013-14, this may be big value to them. As well there were some questions if Cole was declining due to age, and the Canadiens have now moved that contract.
The Canadiens are also said to be getting Dallas’ third round pick in the trade. This throw in has some definite value and gives the Habs 6 picks in the first three rounds in the 2013 draft.
In an overall analysis of the deal, I think Dallas is getting the better player right now, as I feel that Cole is more well rounded than Ryder, and more effective in playing a rugged, gritty, physical game. Meanwhile the Habs get out from under a potentially bad contract going forward and free up some cap space to continue rebuilding the club. Contingent on the future moves they make, I think they win the deal in seasons to come.
In other trade news, we have another player re-joining a former team as Simon Gagne, 32 years old, (11 games, 0 goals, 5 assists, 5 points this season) re-joins the Philadelphia Flyers from the Los Angeles Kings. In exchange the Kings get the Flyers 4th round pick, with the condition that it be upgraded to a third rounder should the Flyers make the playoffs.
The Flyers get Gagne who has had injury issues (re concussions) and played just 45 games since leaving Philadelphia as a free agent following the 2010-11 season. Gagne did win the Stanley Cup with the Kings last year, playing in 4 of the teams’ playoff games. He had his most productive years in Philadelphia where he was an all-star offensive producer at LW, as well as a reliable defensive forward. One of the most beloved Flyers in recent history, this trade has Philly fans happy to see one of “their own” rejoin the fold.
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