Out of the fog and back to Montreal comes Michael Ryder.
Ronald Martinez, Getty Images
The Canadiens have traded forward Erik Cole to the Dallas Stars for Michael Ryder, who returns to Montreal, and a third-round draft pick this year.
To say that the deal is a stunner would be to understate the truth. It is also the first trade for new Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin.
“He was shocked, but it’s a place where he’s been and where he’s had success,” Bergevin said on a conference call Tuesday night. “He loves the city of Montreal. I told him we’re extremely happy to have him. He brings an asset to our team that I felt we could use – he’s already had success this year and last year in Dallas. He was surprised but happy.”
Bergevin added that “there’s a very good possibility” Ryder will be in the lineup Wednesday night when the Canadiens visit the Toronto Maple Leafs (7:30 p.m., TSN, RDS, TSN 690 Radio) and that he would help the team’s power play. The Canadiens rank 10th in the NHL on the power play with an 18.9 per cent success rate.
In 19 games this season with the Stars, Ryder posted 6-8-14 totals and was plus-4. A UFA at season’s end, Ryder is earning $3.5 million this season. Ryder is on a six-game point streak with two goals and seven assists in his last six games. His 14 points are the same as Canadiens team leader Max Pacioretty, who has 4-10-14 totals in 15 games.
“He’s a sniper, he won the Stanley Cup in Boston and he understands the market in Montreal,” Bergevin said.
The GM added: “Nothing against Erik (Cole), but (Ryder) helps us in areas we need right away.”
Bergevin also said that Cole’s comments before training camp about a possible early retirement didn’t factor in his decision to make the trade.
Cole, 34, who signed with the Canadiens before last season as an unrestricted free agent for four years and $18 million, was the Canadiens’ leading goal-scorer last season with 35, a career high. He played on the top line with Max Pacioretty and centre David Desharnais. He had three goals and three assists in 19 games this season.
Ryder, 32, was chosen by the Habs 216th overall, in the eighth round, of the 1998 draft. He eventually fell out of favour with the team, a healthy scratch for much of the 2008 playoffs. He signed for three seasons with the Boston Bruins before moving on to the Stars, where he scored 35 goals last season.
“Erik Cole is a top-six, power forward who skates well, adds size, and is under contract for the next two years,” Stars general manager Joe Nieuwendyk said on the team’s website. “We thank Michael Ryder for his contributions and look forward to what Erik will bring to our group.”
Bergevin said that he is always looking to make the Canadiens better and didn’t hesitate to pull the trigger on this deal despite the fact the Canadiens are in first place in the Eastern Conference.
“We’re happy to have him,” Bergevin said of Ryder. “He brings an asset to our team we can use. We don’t make trades on stats alone, but that was definitely a big plus. He’s already had success this year.”