Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk breaks down reasoning behind Erik Cole trade: ‘He’s a player who helps us right now’

Looking to add size and net presence — and to maximize contract security — the Stars on Tuesday acquired Erik Cole from the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for Michael Ryder and a third-round pick in the 2013 NHL draft.

Cole is expected to join the team at practice Wednesday and be ready to play Thursday at home against Edmonton.

“He’s a big body, a good skater, a strong net presence, and he’s under contract, so he’s an asset that we control,” Stars general manager Joe Nieuwendyk said. “He’s a player who helps us right now.”

Cole, 34, scored 35 goals last season for the Montreal Canadiens. He was off to a slow start this season with three goals and three assists in 19 games. However, Nieuwendyk said he believes a change of scenery will be good for Cole, who has two years remaining on his contract at $4 million per season.

“Yes, definitely,” Nieuwendyk said when asked about the fresh start. “He’s a top-six forward who had 35 goals last season, and we expect him to play at that level.”

Ryder, who was on a six-game scoring streak with two goals and seven assists in that span, said Tuesday morning he was just finding his stride after starting slowly following the lockout. The 32-year-old said he knew he might be a candidate for a trade because he can become an unrestricted free agent in the summer, but he added that he’s lived in that environment before.

And he said he developed a tough skin playing in Montreal early in his career.

“I’m pretty much used to it. … The longest deal I’ve ever signed is three years in Boston,” said Ryder, who scored 35 goals last season. “I played in Montreal, so that helped a lot. You realize all of that stuff is going to get talked about, and you realize the best way to handle all of that is to just take care of your game and play well, and everything will work out.”

Ryder leaves the team as the Stars’ leading scorer with 14 points.