The Montreal Canadiens are still in the running for the biggest impact trade of 2013.
It wasn't the one yesterday, though if you'd told me in mid-slumber that they got that guy Drew-something from LA for picks, I might have thought otherwise. The trade that still stands is the one that brought in Michael Ryder for a second go-around with his goal every other game and 14 points in 15.
And it shouldn't surprise that a classic player for player trade be in the running for such a nod. One has to give a lot to get a lot. And Erik Cole was a lot.
The Ryder trade has worked out very well so far for the Canadiens. Of course, there's the aforementioned points, but let's not forget that Ryder has been playing very effectively aside from those stats:
- He has been the majority contributor on 10 of those 14 goals, a total which rivals the team lead already, despite the 21 game head start for the others
- He has been just what the doctor ordered on the PP, a solid shot who is happy to let others hog the possession until trigger time (and it's paid off big in PP goals for the team)
- He has slotted in well for Rene Bourque against Plekanec and Gionta and solidified the idea that the Canadiens are a team that an opponent can't leave unguarded
- Etc., etc.
One cannot really hope for more in a trade return. And sure, it is true that Erik Cole was probably able to do a few of those things as well, and given time probably would have found his old affinity for playing with Desharnais and Pacioretty. But in the 48-game season, it is true that perhaps there just wasn't the time to wait for that. Certainly not after Rene Bourque and Raphael Diaz went down and stripped the team at once of scoring depth and PP flow.
So Bergevin did well. The early strike probably saved the bid for first, and perhaps more. And don't tell me the Bruins would not have looked at Ryder (often the hero on a playoff night) before Jaromir Jagr on trade deadline's eve.
So let's look at the contenders for trade of the season so far:
1) Jarome Iginla acquired for Kenneth Agostino, Ben Hanowski and 1st round pick (2013)
Very strong from Pittsburgh. If Iginla was traded from your team for this return, there'd be a lynch mob on the prowl. We have to wait to see what Iginla can do for the Pens, but barring Iginla losing all his skill on the American Airlines flight, this will be the winner, I suspect.
2) Jaromir Jagr acquired for Lane MacDermaid, Cody Payne and conditional 2nd rounder (2013)
Jagr is the best NHL player by far in this deal, possibly the only NHL player, and the Bruins are a team that can use his complement of skills and fit him in without too much disruption. Makes the Bruins more dangerous for certain.
T3) Michael Ryder acquired for Erik Cole
T3) Ryan Clowe acquired for 2nd and 3rd rounder (2013),conditional 2nd rounder (2014)
Don't underrate Clowe now because the Habs didn't get him. This is a player coveted by many (including us) for some time. And the cost of acquisition, though it seems like a lot of picks won't look bad if he returns to his best form. The Rangers, the sleeping giant in the East, made a good move here. We'll have to see where this stacks up in July.
5) Derek Roy acquired for Kevin Connauton and 2nd rounder (2013)
This is a slick move from the Canucks. Roy may be past the days where he can provide #1 centre minutes, but the Canucks don't need him for that. He is still a very good player from my perspective and for the price, a very good acquisition. Connauton should make the NHL, so this may be Dallas's best move of the bunch also.
6) Michal Handzus acquired for 4th rounder (2013)
Chicago's management knows what they are doing, and this is a fine tuning move. But I like it. I've not always been a fan of big oafs on skates, but Handzus has long been an exception, he has proven he can play. This will help the Hawks in the playoffs.
(Other) Tobias Rieder acquired for Kale Kessy
Not many prospects get thrown around this time of year, but if I were a GM, I'd probably get my hunting gear on for this season when GMs are vulnerable to blinkering. Tobias Rieder is not someone who will make the headline that Iginla, Jagr or even Ryder will make in 2013. But this prospect once scored 113 goals in 34 lower-level German league games. I don't care where you are from, that stands out. Since then, he has moved on to the OHL. Last season he scored 42 goals with 42 assists (totals we know stck up well in these lower scoring days, 5th in the league for goals) and clocked lower this season, but easily enough to be considered among the league wide scoring threats. Kessy for me is not his equal, though Edmonton probably thought they have enough Rieders and few Kessys. A good under the radar move by Phoenix. Something for Quebec to look forward to?
There should be more of these. And we'll need to see what time does for each side of each trade. The bar has been set by Ryder (point per game and impact goalscoring while leading a team to the top of their division). The others have a lot to prove yet.