Erik Cole Acquisition a Solid Move for Red Wings

The Detroit Red Wings made a move at the trade deadline, but it wasn’t for that right-handed defenseman they have greatly coveted.

The Red Wings acquired forward Erik Cole from the Dallas Stars in exchange for prospects Mattias Backman, Mattias Janmark and a 2015 second-round pick. Detroit also gets a conditional 2015 third-round pick from Dallas. Should the Red Wings make the Eastern Conference final, Dallas would keep that third-round pick, according to the Detroit Free Press’ Helene St. James.

Cole spoke on TSN 1050 in Toronto shortly after hearing he had been traded, according to MLive.com’s Ansar Khan. He had good things to say about the Red Wings:

“It’s a chance to go to a team that’s in the playoffs and has a chance to go on a good run here in the spring and hopefully win a Cup.

“It’s definitely one of those teams that has the aura about it. It’s such a great history and so many great players have played there obviously. We lost to them in the ’02 finals (with Carolina). At the time it was such heartbreak, so I haven’t had super-fond memories of that building (Joe Louis Arena) since that night. Hopefully going in there and being part of the organization, I’ll make some happy memories.”

Why This Trade Works for Detroit

I was convinced Detroit was going to stand pat at this year’s trade deadline. Many of the top defensemen the Red Wings were looking at already had been moved, and general manager Ken Holland didn’t want to have to sell the farm to get a rental.

However, with Johan Franzen’s return up in the air, Holland was looking for some depth up front, and he got in Cole. Cole, 36, is an unrestricted free agent after this season, so this is purely a rental trade. However, the Red Wings didn’t have to give up very much in order to get him, so it’s a win for Detroit.

Backman left for Sweden back in December due to the lack of playing time he was getting in Grand Rapids. So really, the Red Wings don’t lose anything by trading him since he hadn’t been playing for the Griffins since late December.

As far as Janmark goes, he has 36 points in 53 games with Frolunda of the Swedish Hockey League. I haven’t heard much about him since he has been drafted, so I’m guessing he was pretty low on the depth chart of prospects.

What it boils down to is the Red Wings got Cole and a conditional third-round pick for Janmark and a second-round pick. It’s a pretty good deal for Detroit.

Where Does Erik Cole Fit?

Cole is a big left winger at 6-foot-2, 212 pounds. He’s a physical body with some scoring touch the Red Wings have lacked ever since Franzen went down.

He’d be perfect on the third line with Riley Sheahan and Stephen Weiss. Or, coach Mike Babcock might put him on the second line with Henrik Zetterberg and Gustav Nyquist, which would bump Justin Abdelkader to the third line.

Either way, it gives the Red Wings a physical presence they have lacked all season. We saw how easily they got manhandled by Boston in last year’s playoffs. Holland, obviously, is happy with the progress Alexey Marchenko and Xavier Ouellet have made and feels the blueline is good without any new additions.

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Tom Mitsos is a Detroit Red Wings and Grand Rapids Griffins staff writer for The Hockey Writers. You can follow him on Twitter @tom_mitsos.