The Stars got center Mattias Janmark, defenseman Mattias Backman and a second-round pick this year for Cole and a conditional third-round pick.
Cole, 36, had 18 goals and 17 assists in 57 games for the Stars this season. He has 262 goals and 264 assists in 881 games with Carolina, Edmonton, Montreal and Dallas.
"This might be one of the best years he's had," Stars general manager Jim Nill said.
In 2011-12, Cole had 35 goals and 26 assists for Montreal.
"I was warming up for the game here, got pulled away and found out that a deal had been reached," Cole told Canadian sports network TSN. "I found a little after that I was going to be headed to Detroit. It should be a great experience with a great team that is in the playoffs."
Janmark and Backman, both 22, have not played in the NHL.
Detroit drafted Backman in the fifth round in 2011 and Janmark in the third round in 2013. They have played mostly in their native Sweden and logged some time with the AHL's Grand Rapids Griffins.
Nill was Detroit's assistant general manager when the Red Wings picked Backman 146th overall but was with the Stars when Janmark was drafted.
"I've seen Backman ever since we drafted him," Nill said. "He's very close to being an NHL-ready defenseman. Janmark plays the game the right way both ways. We look forward to getting him over here and seeing where his development's at."
This season, Janmark has 13 goals and 23 assists in 53 games for Frolunda in the Swedish Hockey League. Backman had four assists in 18 games at Grand Rapids, and has four goals and 12 assists in 23 games for Linkopings.
Nill said Detroit would return the third-round pick if the Red Wings advance to the Eastern Conference finals.