Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
With 35 goals scored last season to lead the team, Michael Ryder was a popular player among Dallas fans. Was trading him the right move?
For most of the day yesterday, there was only one thing that Dallas Stars fans were focused on, and that was the 1-15-2 record on the second night of back to back games.
But then, about 30 minutes before the puck dropped, some big news came through saying that Michael Ryder had been traded for Erik Cole of the Montreal Canadiens.
The initial reaction among Stars fans was not good. In fact, it's safe to say that a lot of people were outraged -- especially when they found out that Dallas also sent a 3rd Round Draft Pick to Montreal. If Erik Cole's point totals are similar to Michael Ryder's, so why bother with this trade? And why give up an extra asset on top of it?
"It's a deal that makes sense for us because (Cole) has a little more size and strength to compete in the West," said Nieuwendyk. "He's a big guy with experience who has a lot of power to his game. The fact that he has this year, plus two years remaining on his contract is a little security for us."
Ryder, on the other hand, will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season.
"We looked down the road at when Michael is a UFA this summer - we have to make a decision on all of our UFAs - and when we were discussing whether we would entertain the idea of re-signing this player, the opportunity came about with Erik Cole," said Nieuwendyk.
The contract length is certainly an important factor -- especially if the Stars plan on spending to that cap in the next couple of years. With the number of players that need to re-sign, $20 million in cap space is not nearly as much as you might think. It fills up fast, especially if you lock down a high profile player or two.
This is a case where the higher contract is actually better for the Stars, just because of the length. Right now, Michael Ryder is getting paid $3.5 million a year. As a free agent and a 35 goal scorer, He is going to be able to command far more than that on the open market this summer. He's going to want more money, and he's going to want the longest term that he can secure. There is probably a team out there that is willing to pay a high price for his offense, but it won't be Dallas.
Instead, the Stars will have a $4.5 million cap hit for just two more seasons for a fellow 35 goal scorer. This essentially makes Cole the cheaper option next year, compared to Ryder and whatever new contract he receives. On top of it, there is no risk of losing Cole like there would be losing Ryder in the off season. Even if Dallas offered him the numbers he wanted, there is no guarantee that he would stay here. I don't doubt that they had discussed contract extensions before, but a deal like that doesn't make sense for Ryder. Not when he can command so much more on the open market.
So from a business standpoint, and having to run an entire team, this deal makes sense.
And then there's the playing styles. While both put up similar points last year, they went about it in completely different ways. GM Joe explains again:
"He'll be more of a power forward that will fit well in our lineup, maybe one that will give our second line at this time a more powerful look," Nieuwendyk said. "(Ryder and Cole) are similar players statistically, but a different style of player. (Cole) has a style that will be more beneficial to our team with how we want to play moving forward, a big body attacking the opponent."
Erik Cole is bigger, tougher, and cashes in near the front of the net, while Michael Ryder is a sniper who tends to stay out of traffic until he absolutely has to get involved.
Fans were clamoring for this to be a tougher team -- a team that hits. Now that Joe has traded for that tougher player with similar numbers, are those same fans upset about this move? I should hope not.
Obviously, it's way too early to judge this trade. It will take some time to see how things go once Cole starts playing for Dallas. In the mean time, we can at least understand why the trade was made, and how it will (hopefully) benefit the Stars.
The bottom line for me, though, is that this is actually a fairly low risk move when all things are considered. I do not believe that Ryder would have been traded if he wasn't set on testing the free agent market. He's earned his shot (and his payday) out there, so it makes sense that he would want to. So instead of losing him for nothing, the Stars traded for a player with similar numbers. Essentially, they traded a 3rd round pick for two additional years of a 35 goal scorer. All things considered, that's not a bad deal.
Coming up in today's links some more thoughts on the trade, how to increase NHL scoring, and the potential future of Jamie Benn:
- Mark Stepneski has his recap from last night's game. It was certainly a crazy one. Though the only thing I care about is the fact that the Stars are finally no longer 1-15-2. [Stars Inside Edge]
- Mike Heika has his thoughts on the trade. I particularly like his thoughts on signing free agents, and how well that worked out for the Dallas Mavericks and Texas Rangers recently. [Dallas News]
- Kari Lehtonen says he will be back in time for the game on Thursday, and that he will be at 105 percent. [Dallas News]
- Bob Sturm talks about Jamie Benn's night against the San Jose sharks, as well as his future leadership potential. [FSSW]
- The Texas Stars couldn't complete last night's comeback, and lost 3-2. They had won five straight before that loss. [Hundred Degree Hockey]
- Fellow SBN Blog Habs Eyes On The Prize takes a look at the trade from their angle. They don't think they outright won this trade either. [Eyes On The Prize]
- It's funny that this hasn't been an issue for the Stars lately, with 11 straight 3+ goal games, but Sean McIndoe has 10 ways everyone wants to boost NHL scoring. "Have Nilstorp and Bachman in net" is not one of the 10 ways, apparently. [Grantland]
- SI has their power rankings up for the week. In Dallas ranking: "Michael Ryder is heating up, scoring a goal in that one and chipping in with three points against the Preds. One of the few mistakes made by Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli in recent years was not re-signing Ryder." Oops. [Sports Illustrated]
- For your video of the day, we have last night's Game In 6. Thankfully the Stars won (compared to the night before), so the highlights are far more entertaining to watch.