In the end, I just believe the Montreal Canadiens view the exchange of Michael Ryder and Erik Cole as a wash for this season, but certainly a different story when it comes to the salary-cap implications moving forward.
With Ryder’s deal expiring in July and Cole having two more years after this season on his contract, I don’t think Habs GM Marc Bergevin saw an asset that at the age of 35 next season and 36 in the final year of his deal would be worth $4.5 million of cap space.
In other words, while the Canadiens would never admit it, I think they saw a diminishing asset and needed to find a way to move it without hurting the team’s chances this season.
With Ryder and Cole each scoring 35 goals last season, that should be a fair exchange offensively. Bergevin views Ryder as more of a natural sniper with a better shot release. The Habs also got a third-round pick in this summer's draft.
But looking past this season, without having Cole’s $4.5 million cap hit and Scott Gomez’s $7.35 million cap hit, Bergevin has suddenly created loads of cap flexibility. That’s no small achievement for an offseason in which the salary cap goes from $70.2 million down to $64.3 million in Year 2 of the new CBA. Some teams will be scrambling to get under the cap for next season and Bergevin has managed to get that work done ahead of time.
From Dallas' perspective, I think the Stars get a better skater and a more physical player in Cole than they had in Ryder and they need that on their roster. It’s a top six that can use more speed and they’ll get it in the veteran Cole.
The Stars also have a locked-up asset for two more years and that’s important because they’ve got the likes of Jaromir Jagr, Derek Roy and Brenden Morrow all on expiring contracts. This affords GM Joe Nieuwendyk assurance that his top-six forward group won’t be completely depleted.
But at the same time, he’s got to hope Cole can stay healthy and keep his legs through the duration of this contract. There’s no guarantee of that.