The Carolina Hurricanes signed Ian Cole, an unrestricted free agent defenceman, to a one-year contract worth $2.9 million. Elliotte Freidman was first with the news.
Carolina Hurricanes Sign UFA Ian Cole
Over his eleven-year NHL career, Cole has played for the Minnesota Wild, Colorado Avalanche, Columbus Blue Jackets, Pittsburgh Penguins, and St. Louis Blues. Originally drafted in the first round, 18th overall of the 2007 NHL draft by the Blues, the 32-year old owns 27 goals and 119 assists in 595 games. Of those 119 points, all but six came at even strength. He averaged 15:53 in icetime per game last season, and averages 17:32 per game across his career. He also scored one goal and seven assists for eight points in 54 games last season in Colorado and Minnesota.
Early in the 2020-21 season, the Avalanche dealt Cole to the Wild in exchange for Greg Pateryn. His Corsi-for percentage over the season ranked at 39.6% and -9.2% relative, but he typically sits in the negative on an annual basis. A defence-first, shot-blocking defenceman, Cole also started 71% of his shifts in the defensive zone. He also picked up 32 penalty minutes in the 54 games he dressed.
What This Means for the Future
Getting Ian Cole signed to your roster provides Cup-winning experience and strong veteran leadership. He won the Stanley Cup in both 2016 and 2017 with the Penguins. He’s logged 96 games in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, notching 24 points and 78 PIM’s in those contests. If there was one trade Avalanche GM Joe Sakic could take back, it would probably be the one losing Cole. Pateryn wound up leaving the team in a later trade mid-season, so didn’t contribute much to the team. And then, in the postseason, the Avs lacked strength and grit on defence in their series against the Vegas Golden Knights. Those are the exact assets Cole brings in his game, ones the Avalanche sorely missed.
Cole may not be flashy, but teams know what they’re getting with him. He logs big minutes on the penalty kill and at the end of games when needing to close out a win. His reliability and leadership cannot go understated either, as it always helps having another guy who’s won it all in the locker room.