Sunday morning Erik Cole said he hadn’t heard anything about a possible trade, just rumors. Sunday night he got official word – he was heading to the Detroit Red Wings. The news came just before the Stars hit the ice to warm-up for their game against the Anaheim Ducks at American Airlines Center.
“It’s all just kind of spilling in,” Cole told TSN shortly after the trade. “I was warming up for the game here, got pulled away and found out that a deal had been reached, that I wasn’t going tonight and to sit tight. I found out a little after that I was going to be heading to Detroit. It should be a great experience with a great team that is in the playoffs. It’s a chance to go on a good run here in the spring and hopefully win a Cup.”
The Stars dealt Cole, a pending unrestricted free agent to the Red Wings in exchange for prospects C Mattias Janmark and D Mattias Backman and a second-round pick in 2015. Detroit also gets a conditional third-round pick in 2015 as part of the deal.
With the Stars nine points out of a playoff spot coming into Sunday’s game, Stars GM Jim Nill had to make decisions about pending unrestricted free agents such as Cole.
“You start talking to teams and give different scenarios,” Nill said. “So I had a good idea where the teams were, and some were starting to fall, but I kept in touch with three or four teams, and there were some different options. But in the end, Detroit’s offer was a good offer. I know they’re happy with Erik. They need that type of player, so it’s a deal that worked for both teams.”
The Stars acquired Cole from the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for forward Michael Ryder and a third-round pick in Feb. 2013. Cole played 160 games with the Stars, registering 69 points (40 goals, 29 assists). He was particularly strong this season, tallying 33 points (18 goals, 15 assists) in 57 games.
“Erik’s been a big part of our team. I’ve been watching Erik play now for the last probably 12, 13 years, and this might have been one of his best years he’s had. He’s been a big part of our team,” Nill said. “Unfortunately, there’s a part to it of where our team’s at and where we’re building you have to make those decisions, and we just want to thank Erik. We think we got some good young prospects out of it, some draft picks and we’ll go from there.”
Backman, a fifth-round pick by Detroit in 2011, started the season in the AHL but was assigned to the Swedish Hockey League, where he has 16 points (four goals, 12 assists) in 23 games with Linkoping.
“He’s a defenseman, a good puck-moving defenseman,” Nill said. “He came over and played a few games at Grand Rapids start of the season and went back to Sweden. But he’s very close to being an NHL-ready defenseman, just needs to gain strength in that but real good skill, good hockey sense.”
Janmark, a third-round pick in 2013, played briefly in the AHL last season, but is playing in the Swedish Hockey League, where he has 36 points (13 goals, 23 assists) in 53 games with Frolunda.
“Janmark, real solid, all-around typical Swedish forward,” Nill said. “He plays the game the right way both ways; good defensively, good offensively and we look forward to getting him over and seeing where his development’s at.”
As for the conditions on the third-round pick Dallas gives up, if Cole plays in half Detroit’s playoff games and the Red Wings go to the conference finals then the Stars retain the pick.
The NHL trade deadline is Monday at 2 p.m. Central Time and Nill said he will continue talking with other teams to see if there are deals to be made.
“We’ll be busy on that and every day trying to get better,” Nill said. “We have all our pro scouts here and we’ll be back at it tomorrow morning.”
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club. Mark Stepneski is an independent writer whose posts on DallasStars.com reflect his own opinions and do not represent official statements from the Dallas Stars. You can follow Mark on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.