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The Michael Ryder-Erik Cole trade was the first notable trade of the season
and it had everyone talking.  Who wins the deal now, who wins it down the
road?  Are the Habs better off with a more natural goal scorer or with the
power forward?  More of our writers have weighed in on the big move and
answer these questions and more.

Brian La Rose: First, I’d like to express my appreciation that
we’ve finally seen a relevant trade this season.  I’m not just referring to
the Habs either, the trades across the league have been of the minor variety
with the exception of this one; it’s much more fun to debate the relative merits
of a move like this compared to a depth player for late pick swap.

Anyone who has read this site over the years knows I’m a cap guy so of
course, my immediate reaction was intrigue at the prospect of freeing up some
cap space for the next two years.  The Habs will have some money to go
after a quality free agent and they’re certainly going to need to acquire one as
Cole had, and I suspect still would have, filled a very important role on this
team.  Yes, he was off to a slow start but he had played better recently
and even when he’s not scoring, he can still impact the game in a positive way
with his speed and physical play.  For all the qualities that Michael Ryder
brings to the table, the same can’t be said about him.

That said, Ryder’s goal scoring abilities and his overall offensive game have
always been impressive and he hasn’t needed significant minutes to produce. 
On a team that is concerned with managing minutes (a great plan, might I add),
this particularly will come in handy.  Another good right hand shot, which
is something the Habs have lacked recently, is also nice to have. 

Are the Habs better today than they were before the trade?  Yes and no. 
In terms of raw scoring ability, I believe they have improved but they have
taken a hit in other areas, particularly in physical play.  It’s a good
deal for both teams involved with the Habs getting the best potential for
long-term reward with the cap space and the draft pick.  For Marc
Bergevin’s first ‘real trade’ (with all due respect to the DeSantis and Tokarski
acquisitions), he did well here.

Alex Létourneau: Now that the dust has settled on the first big trade of the year, I would lean
towards the term ‘home run’ by Marc Bergevin on this one. He acquired a cheaper
expiring contract on an in-form player who will find the net in the slot when he
has the puck. And a third round pick next year to boot. I thought it was a steal
man for man when the trade initially broke and actually laughed when more
reports came out adding that pick. A resounding win for Bergevin at the moment.

I’m not trying to slight Erik Cole. I think the man is a good hockey player but
it looked like he was settling into a mentality he had when he was an Oiler.
Either he wasn’t happy or he was injured because something was up as he clearly
wasn’t the same power forward we saw last year.

Trading Michael Ryder is little baffling to me and after I finished my laughing
fit, I started to wonder if he was injured, a distraction in the room,
something, anything to trigger this trade. He was described as a great guy on
and off the ice by Dallas Stars management and he looked healthy, albeit a
little uncomfortable with new linemates and a new system against Toronto
Wednesday. So, for the time being, this is a big win for the organization. If Ryder scores
more than six points in the next 17 games, it’ll look even better.

Jonathan Rebelo: Shocked would best describe my reaction to the news
when I simultaneously received five text messages telling me about the trade. At
first I was not happy to see Cole go to bring in Ryder but my mood quickly
changed when I found out Ryder’s contractual status. The fact that Bergevin was able to clear the money owed to Cole off the cap for the next
two years is quite remarkable. The icing on the cake was the 3rd
round pick which provides the Canadiens with six selections in the first 90 picks
if the upcoming NHL Entry Draft.

In terms of the players switching sides I think
Montreal gains something they needed but they lose something quite valuable as
well. Ryder has had a great start to the year and his right handed shot should
help the Canadiens’ middle of the pack powerplay. That said Ryder won’t drive the
net like Cole did, nor will he create a lot of space for his linemates. With
Cole’s departure a lot more will be expected of Max Pacioretty and Rene Bourque
when he eventually returns from a power forward point of view. I believe both
players will have success with their new teams. Cole gets to play with some old
friends and former teammates in Dallas and Ryder returns to where his NHL career

The thing that surprised me most when looking at
both players stats was that Ryder was the superior statistical player, having
more 30 goal season and more importantly averaging almost twice as many points
per playoff game. Now those numbers I am sure have some variables like Cole
missing most of the Hurricanes’ cup run, or Ryder having 27 more playoff games
played but still even on that side of the trade the Canadiens still look like
the winners.