Wings get jump on deadline, land Cole

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

Detroit — The NHL trade deadline is 3 p.m. Monday, but the Red Wings got some business done early.

They acquired forward Erik Cole from the Dallas Stars Sunday evening along with a conditional 2015 third-round draft pick, for a pair of prospects — center Mattias Janmark and defenseman Mattias Backman — and a 2015 second-round pick.

Dallas receives its third-round pick back if the Red Wings reach the Eastern Conference finals.

"We're very pleased, he gives us another dimension," said general manager Ken Holland of acquiring Cole. "He's a top-six, top-nine forward, who pushes everyone up. He can play with anybody, he gives size and a physical presence, and he's scored 18 goals."

Holland said he began talks with Dallas general manager Jim Nill, the longtime Red Wings assistant general manager — last week when the Red Wings played in Dallas.

Discussions regarding Cole heated up the last two or three days, with the prospects and draft picks being settled upon.

Holland believes acquiring Cole strengthens and upgrades the Red Wings, something he wanted to accomplish at the trade deadline instead of simply making a lateral or depth move.

"Our team has played well for the entire season and has made us feel good about our chances," Holland said. "We've played at a high level. Erik Cole adds another dimension, a big guy with skill who makes us a stronger team."

The need for a big, rugged winger such as Cole (6-foot-2, 210 pounds) became more pronounced over the weekend after Darren Helm (upper body) was injured in Saturday's game in Nashville.

Helm will have an MRI on Monday to determine the extent of his injury.

The Red Wings are also without Johan Franzen (concussion) for the forseeable future, Franzen not having played since Jan. 6 when he was injured in a collision in Edmonton.

Cole, 36, is a rental — he's in the final year of a four-year contract worth $18 million ($4.5 million salary cap hit). He will be an unrestricted free agent on July 1.

A 12-year veteran, Cole has played with Carolina (he won a Stanley Cup with the Hurricanes in 2006), Edmonton, Montreal and Dallas.

Cole had 18 goals and 15 assists with Dallas this season with a plus-4 rating.

Cole told TSN 1050 sports radio in Canada he found out about the trade after being pulled from warm-ups Sunday as Dallas was preparing to play Anaheim.

"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," Cole said.

"It's definitely one of those teams that has the aura about it," said Cole, who was part of the Hurricanes team that lost to the Red Wings in the 2002 Stanley Cup Finals. "It's such a great history and so many great players have been there, obviously. We lost to them in the '02 Finals and at the time it was such heartbreak, so I haven't had super-fond memories of the building (Joe Louis Arena) since that night.

"But hopefully going in there and being part of the organization, you hear so many great things about how the organization and the coaching staff handles their players and all the accolades. They've had so much success. It should be a great experience."

Nill obviously knows the two prospects he acquired from the Red Wings.

Backman, an offensive defenseman, began the season in Grand Rapids but returned to Sweden when he wasn't satisfied with his playing time. Janmark is a 2013 third-round pick who plays in the Swedish Elite League.

Holland said Sunday night he is continuing to work the phones and will do so until Monday's deadline

Players such as defensemen Jeff Petry (Edmonton), Zbynek Michalek (Arizona) and Marek Zidlicky (New Jersey) are available, all right-hand shots who have varying strengths and weaknesses but could have appeal to the Red Wings.

But with the steady play of youngsters Alexey Marchenko and Xavier Ouellet (since returned to Grand Rapids), and impressive reports on Brian Lashoff and Nick Jensen in Grand Rapids, Holland may feel secure about where his defense stands.

"We saw what Ouellet could do, we're seeing what Marchenko is doing," Holland said. "Kyle Quincey (ankle) is returning. We have players."