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Habs trade Erik Cole to Stars for Michael Ryder

Feb 26, 2013, 6:30 PM EDT

Erik Cole AP

In what has to be the biggest trade of the 2013 season so far, the Montreal Canadiens sent winger Erik Cole to the Dallas Stars in exchange for forward Michael Ryder, according to TSN’s Bob McKenzie.

Update: Montreal also got a third-round pick in the deal, the Dallas Morning News’ Mike Heika reports.

Cole, 34, was a big free agent acquisition for the Habs during the 2011 offseason. He had a great debut in 2011-12 (35 goals, 61 points) but has just six points in 19 games this season. His contract is likely as big of a concern for Montreal; his $4.5 million cap hit expires after the 2014-15 season.

Ryder, 32, has been red-hot lately for the Stars. The hot-and-cold winger has nine points in a six-game points streak and 14 in 19 games overall. His $3.5 million cap hit expires after this season.

There should be a reasonable amount of familiarity for both players.

The most obvious is Ryder’s case. The Habs drafted him in the eighth round in 1998, watching him play for four seasons in Montreal before he departed for Boston.

Cole doesn’t have that same experience, but at least he’ll be reunited with former Carolina Hurricanes teammate Ray Whitney (who’s recovering from an injury).

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