uspw_7041934Michael Ryder is back in the fold in Montreal after the Canadiens traded Erik Cole to the Dallas Stars for the former Hab. The Canadiens also acquired a third round draft pick.

The Habs are currently sitting in first place in the Eastern Conference, so they’re obviously looking to pad things up a bit and help cement their position. The main thrust of the trade looks to be to aid the man-advantage, however.

“There’s never a good or bad time to make a trade,” said Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin about acquiring Ryder. “He’s a guy who is going to help our power play. He’s a sniper. He scores goals.”

The plan right now is for Ryder to be in the line-up when Montreal tangles with the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday night.

Cole, meanwhile, waived his no-trade clause to get the deal done. He considered retirement in October and again after the settling of the NHL lockout. Currently he has two years left on a four year contract that pays him $4.5 million a year. Unfortunately for Montreal, Cole was off to a slow start with just six points in 19 games to start the shortened season.

“I want to make this clear: (Ryder) is a player who can help us right away,” said Bergevin. “He’s a player that produces. Nothing against Erik, but he will help us in areas we need.”

Ryder arrives in Montreal in the last season of a two year deal paying him $3.5 million a year. With the Habs having cleared out some significant money in terms of the Scott Gomez situation, Ryder will help the team fit under the cap.

“Erik Cole is a top-six power forward who skates well, adds size, and is under contract for the next two years,” said Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk. “We thank Michael Ryder for his contributions and look forward to what Erik will bring to our group.”

In effect, the Canadiens are trading brawn for goal-scoring. They’re banking on Ryder’s ability to play as a sniper, something that they feel can help solidify their good start to the season and push them into the post-season with a few more goals on the scoreboard. But the 32-year-old also enters a hockey hotbed again, playing for a team that is under the microscope on a daily basis.