It’s the biggest trade since they sent Jaroslav Halak to St. Louis for Lars Eller.
Hockey people like to call them “pure hockey trades” when they happen. Trades where specific team needs are filled on both sides.
Although the Canadiens didn’t clearly state the reasons for making the deal with Dallas, it was clear to anyone who watched Erik Cole play over the first nineteen games of the season that he had slowed a half step and his shot wasn’t what his was last year when he scored 35 goals. At least, not yet. Ryder is a righthand shot one of only four forwards on the team. You can include the salary cap implications surrounding the remaining two years of his contract. And the Canadiens had the will. Late last week word leaked out that he was available if someone was looking for an established large-size winger.
So what motivated Dallas?
According to general manager Joe Nieuwendijk, his team needed some size up-front and somebody who will go to the net, an area of the game that Michael Ryder has not based his reputation. According to Nieuwendyk, “(Cole is) a big body, a good skater, a strong net presence, and he’s under contract, so he’s an asset that we control. He’s a player who helps us right now.”
So what triggered the deal, since Ryder is an unrestricted free agent in July, the two remaining years in Cole’s contract or his net presence?
There’s bit of wishful or, maybe hopeful thinking on the Stars’ part in the trade. Nieuwendyk cannot be unaware of the 34 year old Cole’s horrible start in which he managed only three goals and three assists in 19 games. Nieuwendyk thinks the key is a change of scenery. “Yes, definitely. He’s a top-six forward who had 35 goals last season, and we expect him to play at that level.”
In Ryder’s case, according to the Dallas News, he comes back to the Canadiens on a six game point scoring streak that has included two goals and seven assists. He leaves the team as their top scorer with 14 points.
As to the lessons-learned since he was pretty much run out of Montreal when he followed back to back thirty goal seasons with 14 goals in 2007-2008. There were reports of Ryder’s late night life style that didn’t sit well with GM Bob Gainey and he was let go without fare-thee-well. “The longest deal I’ve ever signed is three years in Boston. I played in Montreal, so that helped a lot. You realize all of that stuff is going to get talked about, and you realize the best way to handle all of that is to just take care of your game and play well, and everything will work out.”
It’s a “hockey trade”. Motivated by different team needs and goals. Who wins or loses in the deal will be up to the historians.