The Montreal Canadiens and the Dallas Stars have reportedly swapped veteran right wingers, with Erik Cole headed south to Texas, and Michael Ryder traveling in the opposite direction.
TSN’s Bob McKenzie shared the news via Twitter:
MTL trades Erik Cole to DAL for Michael Ryder.— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) February 26, 2013
MTL also acquires a 3rd round pick from DAL in the Ryder-Cole swap.— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) February 26, 2013
The two players put up remarkably similar statistics last season, but this year Ryder is off to a far better start. The 32-year-old will begin his second stint with the Canadiens after scoring six goals and recording eight assists in 19 games for Dallas.
Cole has contributed just three goals and three assists for the Habs in this campaign.
In the 2011-12 season, Cole finished with 61 points, and Ryder had 62.
The Canadiens—who are currently in first place in the Eastern Conference—will add a player off to an excellent start while giving themselves more financial flexibility going forward.
As Pro Hockey Talk’s James O’Brien notes, Cole was under contract until after the 2014-15 season, whereas Ryder will be a free agent after this year.
The move may seem odd to some Canadiens fans, as the team is trading away one of its prized free-agent signings from the 2011 offseason for a player it let walk away four years ago.
However, the team is off to an excellent start this year. At this point, Ryder appears ready to have a better campaign than Cole, and Montreal certainly is eyeing a deep playoff run.
Ryder’s experience during the Boston Bruins’ 2010 Stanley Cup run will also be a valuable asset.
For the Stars, there is little statistical evidence to prove that Ryder is a better player than Cole, and in the end, Dallas may end up with the superior player.
But the two teams have different priorities, and Montreal will be pleased if Ryder can continue his current pace throughout this season.