Those who have read any of my previous articles are well aware that I have placed a strong emphasis on acquiring a veteran blueliner who would be able to coach the youth on the strikingly young Colorado Avalanche. Well, the Avs found that man in Ian Cole, a mid-level stay-at-home defenseman with plenty of experience. Winning not one, but two Stanley Cups (back-to-back with the Pittsburgh Penguins). The Avalanche acquired Cole as an unrestricted free agent on July 1st, signing him on for a three-year contract, earning $4.25 million a year per average annual value (AAV). For those unaware of Ian Cole’s history, here is a quick overview.
A Brief History
- Ian Cole was drafted by the St. Louis Blues with the 18th overall selection in the 2007 NHL Draft, but didn’t start playing for the Blues until the 2010-11 season where he played 26 games and scored four points.
- It wasn’t until the 2015-16 season that Cole played 70 or more games in a season. He did this with the Pittsburgh Penguins, where he scored 12 points in the regular season, and three in the postseason on his way to his first ever Stanley Cup.
- The 2017-18 season was a down year for the Michigan native. During the season, he lost his position on the top three lines with the Penguins, becoming a healthy scratch for many games.
- Cole was traded to the Ottawa Senators, and then the Columbus Blue Jackets during the 2017-18 season (did not play for Ottawa).
- In the past two seasons, Ian Cole has scored only 46 points in total. Avalanche blueliner Tyson Barrie, has scored 95 points in his last two seasons.
So Then Why is He A Good Fit?
Obviously, it doesn’t take a hockey genius to see that the point stats are extremely lackluster to say the least, but that is the price you pay for being a stay-at-home defenseman. Cole has earned his position by strong physical play on the ice, while also displaying leadership characteristics in the locker room. Being a left-handed shooter, Ian Cole will fit extremely well into either of the top two lines with Tyson Barrie or Erik Johnson. The blueliner will also be a smart pairing every so often with the lower lines and beside youth talent such as Samuel Girard, being able to hang back and help clean up offensive miscues that may otherwise result in turnovers. Ian Cole’s biggest strength to the team comes from his personality. Cole has always been a favorite with the fans, and his outgoing personality could easily make him a leading figure on the Avalanche alongside captains Gabriel Landeskog and Nathan MacKinnon. If nothing else, Cole will act as a mentor for the younger defensemen.
Overall, Ian Cole is a mid-level defenseman that brings valuable experience from being on winning teams. As well as being a natural leader, Cole will be ready to go as soon as the season begins; which will be a monumental step toward building chemistry with an already steadily improving team. Similarly, he will be a great help for players who underwent surgeries in the offseason such as Nikita Zadorov. The price and tenure of Ian Cole’s contract may strike many to be a little too much for a little too long, but the Avalanche had to make a quick move if they were to snag a solid defenseman in an otherwise weak free agency pool. Expect Ian Cole to make an immediate impact on the top lines once the season starts.