Habs trade Erik Cole to Stars for Michael Ryder

Michael Ryder is returning to the Montreal Canadiens. The Habs reacquired Ryder and a 2013 thrid-round pick from the Dallas Stars on Tuesday in exchange for winger Erik Cole.

Veteran returns to Montreal for 2nd stint

Forward Michael Ryder (73) is returning to the Montreal Canadiens for a second stint. (Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press)

Michael Ryder is returning to the Montreal Canadiens.

The Habs reacquired Ryder on Tuesday from the Dallas Stars in exchange for winger Erik Cole. Montreal also received Dallas's 2013 third-round selection.

The Canadiens drafted Ryder in 1998 with the 216th overall pick (eighth round). The 32-year-old veteran played four seasons with Montreal.

Ryder returns to the organization less than 24 hours after earning a career-best three assists during the Stars' loss at Nashville.

Ryder productive

Since beginning of 2011-12 NHL season only 10 players have scored more goals than Michael Ryder's 41:

  • Steven Stamkos (TB)  73
  • Evgeni Malkin (Pit) 54
  • James Neal (Pit) 52
  • Marian Gaborik (NYR) 48
  • Matt Moulson (NYI) 46
  • Alex Ovechkin (Was) 46
  • Ilya Kovalchuk (NJ) 44
  • John Tavares (NYI) 44
  • Patrick Marleau (SJ) 42
  • Corey Perry (Ana) 42

Toronto winger Phil Kessel has also scored 41 goals since 2011-12.

— Tim Wharnsby

He had a career-high 63 points for the Habs in 2003-04. In 650 career games, Ryder has 203 goals and 207 assists.

"There's never a good or bad time to make a trade," said Bergevin. "He's a guy who is going to help our power play. He's a sniper. He scores goals," Montreal general manager Marc Bergevin told reporters during a conference call Tuesday night.

Bergevin admitted part of the reason he made the deal for Ryder was to improve the team's power play. The Canadiens began the season strong with the man advantage, but took a deep dip before recovering recently with a goal in each of the last three games.

Ryder has two power-play goals this season and 80 in his career.

Ryder, who will become an unrestricted free agent this summer, scored 41 goals and 35 assists in the last two seasons with the Stars.

Ryder 'produces'

Bergevin said Ryder "brings a different kind of leadership, but he produces."

He also said his newest acquisition  was happy to return to Montreal, and is aware of the pressure to perform in a hockey-mad city.

Ryder was on his way to Toronto, where the Canadiens will take on the Leafs Wednesday at Air Canada Centre, and was unavailable to the media.

Both wingers are coming off career highs of 35 goals last season, but while Ryder has stayed on course with six goals and 14 points in 19 games for Dallas this season, Cole has had a slow start. The six-foot-two right wing had three goals and three assists in 19 games for the Habs.

"I like the trade for Montreal," explains CBCSports.ca senior hockey writer Tim Wharnsby. "They get one of the most productive goal scorers since the beginning of last season. Only 10 others have scored more than his 41. Plus, the Canadiens get a third-round pick to boot.

"Cole had a good season with Montreal last year, but struggled this season. He still has another two years left on his contract at $4.5-million US a season. So it was good to get rid of that contract."

When the Canadiens didn’t re-sign Ryder in 2008, the 32-year-old Bonavista, N.L., native struck a deal with the Boston Bruins, spending three seasons there before joining Dallas in 2011.

Cole signed a four-year, $18 million free-agent contract with the Canadiens in 2011 after spending nine seasons with Carolina and one year with Edmonton.

The 34-year-old compiled 38 goals and 29 assists in 101 games with Montreal.

"Salut Erik. Gonna miss ya brother," Montreal goaltender Carey Price tweeted after hearing of the news. "Welcome back Ryds!"

Cole waives no trade clause

Cole, who waived his no trade clause to accept the trade, thought about retirement both in October and after the NHL lockout was settled in January due to family reasons, along with some provisions to the new collective bargaining agreement.

But Bergevin said that was not considered, adding it was mainly a hockey trade.

"I want to make this clear: [Ryder] is a player who can help us right away," said Bergevin. "He's a player that produces.

"Nothing against Erik, but he will help us in areas we need."

Ryder will also help the Canadiens fit under the salary cap, which is to drop to $64.5 million next season.

Cole has scored 222 goals and 235 assists in 721 career games. He's won a Stanley Cup with the Hurricanes in 2006 and will provide a physical presence for the Stars with a willingness to drive hard to the net.

Dallas GM Joe Nieuwendyk cited Ryder's impending free agency as a factor for trading him to Montreal.

"Erik Cole is a top-six power forward who skates well, adds size, and is under contract for the next two years," said Nieuwendyk. "We thank Michael Ryder for his contributions and look forward to what Erik will bring to our group."

With files from The Canadian Press and Associated Press