My first instinct when looking at this trade is trepidation. I really, really like Erik Cole as a player and also as a locker room presence. I think he did wonders for Max Pacioretty and David Desharnais last season on that number one line, but these are emotional feelings.
Taking a step back I think I see what Bergevin is going for. Cole is a puck carrier. He's currently playing with Alex Galchenyuk and Lars Eller. Eller and Galchenyuk are puck carriers. Michael Ryder is a trigger man. If you're looking for a guy who can capitalize on those two players making plays, Ryder may be a better fit.
Erik Cole is left handed but plays the right side. The Canadiens have two other right handed shots that can play the powerplay in Brian Gionta and Brendan Gallagher. Gallagher is doing really well, but Gionta isn't scoring right now, and his shot looks a little wonky to my eye. Ryder adds a 3rd right handed shooter who can score.
Ryder gives the Canadiens extra cap space flexibility if they want to make a move this season, and is a UFA in the summer which allows Bergevin to wheel and deal to his heart's content.
Once Tomas Kaberle is bought out or traded, the Canadiens have $16.93M in cap space this summer when a lot of contending teams have extremely little, and most of their important spots are already filled.
But outside of goalscoring, did the Canadiens get the better player? Let's look at the underlying numbers for the two players and find out. (Let's ignore the 3rd round pick for a moment)
|Erik Cole||Statistic||Michael Ryder|
|11.8||Time on ice per 60 minutes||13.01|
|-0.224||Corsi relative quality of competition||0.012|
|4.441||Corsi relative quality of teammates||2.68|
|9.62||On-ice shooting percentage||10.34|
|90.5||On-ice save percentage||92.7|
|55.7||Offensive zone start percentage||56.0|
|51.6||Offensive zone finish percentage||51.4|
|15.8||Shot attempts per 60 minutes||9.5|
|56.7||Fenwick close percentage||53.1|
|0.8||Goals per 60 minutes||0.97|
|0.27||Assists per 60 minutes||0.98|
|1.07||Points per 60 minutes||1.94|
So it turns out that the Canadiens traded Cole for a remarkably similar player as far as fancy stats go at even strength. Ryder played slightly tougher competition which much weaker teammates, producing slightly inferior possession with the exact same zone start deployment. The main eye catching thing on in this group of stats to me is the even strength shot attempt rate, where Cole nearly doubles Ryder. That's a little bit worrying, but maybe Ryder makes up for it on the powerplay? Let's find out.
|Erik Cole||Statistic||Michael Ryder|
|2.68||Time on ice per 60 minutes||2.9|
|12.2||On-ice shooting percentage||17.39|
|60.534||Fenwick events for per 60 minutes||73.017|
|5.89||Goals for on per 60 minutes||8.72|
|0||Goals per 60 minutes||2.18|
|1.18||Assists per 60 minutes||4.36|
|1.18||Points per 60 minutes||6.54|
There's a much larger difference here in shot production and goal production, heavily in favour of Ryder. While Ryder has a very obvious advantage there, the Fenwick% is similar meaning, he's likely higher risk than Cole, or at least Dallas' PP is more high risk than the Canadiens' is.
A fair margin of Ryder's powerplay production is luck driven with that obscene 17.39% shooting percentage while he's on the ice, but that's actually not too far off what Cole was getting, and Ryder was by far the most productive right wing on the Stars in this area. Cole on the other hand, was one of the worst Habs on the powerplay this season, regressing from his awesome performance last year to where Stephan pegged him to be in his 2011 season preview.
It looks to me like Ryder is a slight downgrade on Cole at even strength, maybe a little more than slight considering Cole is pretty solid defensively, but also an upgrade on the powerplay.
It was mentioned in the comments of the trade post that Ryder can't insulate a line like Cole can, and if Brian Gionta goes down, that could be a problem. I think that's something that can be viewed as a serious negative with this trade.
However, the chance of an injury to Gionta versus increased cap space this year, increased cap space in the summer, and adding a younger player, and a 3rd round pick... Even with how much I like Cole, I can't see this trade as too much of a negative.
It could be one of those rare trades where a year down the line, you say both teams won.