James O'Brien

Hockey Daily Dose

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Getting the band back together

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

In Tuesday’s Daily Dose, we discussed how proactive fantasy hockey owners should look at their group of goaltenders as an ever-changing (and possibly expanding) collection. To extend the analogy to Tuesday’s biggest news items, NHL teams were like that desperate collector who sold a favorite childhood toy: they just had to rekindle the old magic by trading for an old favorite.

Even if they were just two deals, they might just rank in first and second place during a 2013 season that really hasn’t seen much activity on the trade front just yet. Keep in mind that the trade deadline isn’t that far away at April 5, so if this creates a snowball effect, things could start getting really interesting.


When many of us scrambled to find out more about Marc Bergevin (beyond the fact that he enjoyed a hearty NHL career) when he was hired as the new Montreal Canadiens GM, the common story was that he was a big prankster.

To many, he pulled another prank on a fellow ex-player, grabbing Michael Ryder and a third-round pick from the Dallas Stars’ Joe Nieuwendyk for deeply struggling winger Erik Cole.

Amid the shock and awe, many stats-leaning people were quick to downgrade the reactions about how lopsided it was. While I think it was a clear victory for Montreal - is anyone willing to believe that Bergevin wouldn’t have accepted that deal if the draft pick wasn’t involved? - for fantasy purposes, those hyper-logical folks probably aren’t too far off.


Cole has been traded three times in his NHL career for a variety of reasons, but one of them is that he has a tendency to disappoint. My biggest beef is that when his offensive numbers decline, he doesn’t take a bunch of bad penalties that justify his shaky status as a power forward.

(Look, I know NHL teams feel the opposite, but that’s the comic beauty of the PIM.)

He’s been just a 48-49 PIM guy the last two seasons and hasn’t had a more substantial amount since he racked up an appetizing 73 in 2008-09. (He seems far removed from his career-high of 93 in 03-04, though.)

Of course, the biggest negative is his pitiful production in 2013: just three goals and six points in 19 games. Worse yet, he’s barely shooting for a guy like him, with 41 SOG.

Beyond the natural motivation that comes with providing yourself to a new team, Cole should be in a far more lucrative situation. He could very well get the dream role of skating alongside Jamie Benn (if so, Brenden Morrow could be the big loser there), but even if he rolls with Loui Eriksson and/or Derek Roy like Michael Ryder did for much of 2013, his situation should be much improved.

In fact, if you’re hurting for a solid mid-level sniper, I’d give him an audition. He’s owned in just 27 percent of Yahoo leagues at the moment. It's true that Cole has never played for the Stars, but there should be some familiarity with former teammate Ray Whitney on the team and Mark Recchi in the front office.


While Cole is likely to see a smattering of talented linemates one way or another, it’s a little tougher to say the same for Ryder because, simply, Montreal doesn’t have as many quality forwards to offer.

Cole received some time with a quality guy like Max Pacioretty, his most common linemate is David Desharnais. The diminutive center is an inspiration, but maybe not the kind of guy who will drive Ryder’s numbers.

Great players put up stats no matter what, but middle-of-the-pack guys tend to need a little more help. The linemates and tighter Habs system makes me think this might be a good time to sell high(-ish) on Ryder, although you might just have to ride this one out because he’s not the kind of flashy guy who will yield a great bounty.


Ryder was originally drafted by Montreal, so it should be more comfortable from an outside-the-rink standpoint.

Overall, Cole’s value climbs while Ryder’s hits a wall, although I still think Montreal got the better end of the deal in reality.

Jump for the other noteworthy trade and more.

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James O'Brien is the Hockey Daily Dose's author and has been a contributor to NBC's Pro Hockey Talk for more than four years. Follow him on Twitter.
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