As has been the case in recent years, the closer we get to the NHL trade deadline (Mon. 3pm), the fewer gems remain available. After much anticipation, many of the bigger names have come off the board. Evander Kane started things off back on February 11th (seems so long ago), and more recently Franson, Sekera, Timonen, Clarkson and Jagr have all found new homes. Saturday night Antoine Vermette came off the market when Arizona traded him to the Blackhawks.
And Then There Was One…
Still there remains one clear difference maker left in the trade market. The Stars Erik Cole.
As mentioned in my earlier THW post, Erik Cole along with Shawn Horcoff are obvious trade candidates for the Stars. Horcoff remains on the market as well but his game is more tailored for a bottom six role these days.
Erik Cole has been arguably the Stars most consistent performer this season. The 36-year-old from Oswego, New York, has 18 goals and 15 assists in 57 games. He’s also added a physical dimension to his game as he’s grown older. Cole leads the Stars in hit with 116 and yet only has 14 pims. At 6’2 205 Cole is a prototypical NHL winger.
Cole is in his 15th NHL season. He won a Cup with Carolina and has also played for Edmonton and Montreal. He’s a hard-working, scorer that can make an impact regardless of whether he’s on a first, second or third line.
Cole Has Limited NTC And Prefers East Coast Destinations
Erik Cole has partial NTC, most teams on his list are in East. But isn't proving to be an issue so far as Dallas fielding lots of calls…
— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) March 1, 2015
Two teams who may end up in a bidding war for Cole are Boston and Nashville.
The Bruins have played better of late and could use a boost upfront. Cole would fit him in nicely on a line with Bergeron or Lucic. The Beantown “Gallery Gods” would love his hustle, especially if he continues to average a couple of hits per game.
Erik Cole, with 18 goals, would tie Bergeron for #Bruins lead.
— Kevin Paul Dupont (@GlobeKPD) March 1, 2015
Nashville General Manager David Poile struck early this year bringing Cody Franson back to Nashville in mid February. The Predators GM says he’s comfortable with the moves they have made. However, something tells me Peter Laviolette might be able to convince him to make one more move. Cole won his only Stanley Cup playing for Laviolette in Carolina and there is mutual respect between the two men.
Also, the Red Wings, Rangers, Capitals, Penguins, Senators and Panthers could all be in the mix for Cole’s services.
Is There A Downside?
As is the case with most rentals there is very little downside. Acquiring Cole would most likely be a short-term transaction. Like most players not named Crosby or Toews, Cole’s game does have some flaws. Cole has never been more than an average defensive player. In 11 NHL seasons, his possession numbers have often been average to below average as documented by THW colleague Dustin Nelson.