Dec 31, 2013; Dallas, TX, USA; Dallas Stars right wing Erik Cole (72) skates against the Los Angeles Kings during the game at the American Airlines Center. The Stars defeated the Kings 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Erik Cole: Dallas Stars Season Ending Report Cards

Happy Wednesday, Stars fans! It’s another great day to be a Stars fan! And it’s another day closer to the NHL entry draft as well as the free agent market opening! That could be a good or bad thing.

I’ve got two more including this one! So here’s the second-to-last report card on #72, Erik Cole:

Erik Cole came to Dallas in a trade with Montreal during the lockout season and performed well. This past season was a pretty good one for someone his age.

Season recap:

Erik Cole had a very respectable shortened season with Dallas last year after being traded by the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for Michael Ryder. Cole ended the lockout season with 6 goals and 1 assist during 28 games in a Stars jersey.

This season he played the hot-and-cold game. He started out in the season opener on the front lines playing RW with Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin. After around 5 games, Lindy Ruff noticed that Cole wasn’t producing like he could. So he moved him to the second line at the LW spot, where he soon started to thrive. Cole was a very reliable guy when they needed a LW, and ended up playing 75 of 82 games, with only 1 injury holding him back from a complete season in March. He ended his regular season with 16 goals, which tied for 4th on the team behind Seguin, Benn, and Garbutt, and 13 assists, which on the other hand is nothing to smile about. But on the upside, Cole is not known to be an assister, he is known to be a scorer. His stats, however, found themselves turning on and off throughout the year. His was a year of ups and downs. He was either struggling to even buy a goal or assist, or he was scoring 1 or 2 goals and grabbing 1 or 2 assists a game on a consistent basis. Cole, at the age of 35, still found a way to be helpful throughout the regular season.

Playoff recap:

Cole’s playoff appearance has nothing to mention. He appeared in Games 1 & 2 and had nothing to show except a turnover to Getzlaf that handed over a goal in Anaheim’s 1 GOAL DIFFERENCE win. Lindy Ruff proceeded to scratch Cole for Games 3-5 where he could possibly stay for the rest of the Stars glim playoff chances. But luckily, Ray Whitney began to perform uselessly, to which Ruff pulled him and filled his spot with Cole. Cole played the epitome that was Game 6 and ended his 4th playoff appearance with 0 goals and 0 assists. Not high quality to say the least.

Contract situation:

When he came from Montreal, Erik Cole brought along a 4-year, big dollar deal. Cole’s contract is set to expire after the 2014-2015 season, which means he currently has 1 year left on his deal. His salary is going to be $4,000,000 for the upcoming season, along with a cap hit of $4,500,000. This puts Cole’s career into perspective, being a 35 year old with one year left, he’ll need to perform outstanding this year to escape a forced early retirement.

In my opinion:

Throughout the year, especially around December and January, I saw a lot of Stars’ fans sending Cole “hate tweets” and praying he gets traded, even on night’s he was on the top of his game and ended up being the first star (you know who you are). I don’t understand why first of all people are hating on a member of their FAVORITE team, and second of all why Cole would be the guy to single out.

Cole had a very good year for a more than middle-aged NHL starter and has done nothing to deserve such disrespectfulness. He has served the Stars very well in the last year and a half and the Stars could really use his veteran presence on the ice. He is still a valuable threat for the second or third line LW and can at least be used for the last year of his contract for a team that could be shooting for the Cup this coming year. He is a force when it comes to being the screener, and he seems to be the only one on the team who can still fight in front of the net. He makes his presence known at the tip of the crease and knows how to be physical when need be. Cole is still an intimidating factor on the scoring front and knows how to take the puck in all by himself. The Stars need to keep him, simple as that.

The bottom line on Erik Cole:

Erik Cole came to Dallas off of a simple trade in which Stars fans lost their hockey sweetheart. But through 2 years the 35 year old found a way to prove himself on the ice.

There are two ways the Stars can go:

They could keep him on the roster. Cole proved this past year that he is still a notable hockey player and can play the physical part in front of the net that the Stars so desperately need. He still knows how to score some of the dirtiest goals you’ll EVER see an old man score, and he can single-handedly turn a 1-on-3 into his favor. He protects the puck very well and can help set up a play when he needs to, especially from behind the net. If the Stars do end up keeping him, they could put him simply where they need him to play in order to help the team succeed, and he could truly contribute to the team’s quest for the Cup come next year.

They could also choose to trade him. With 1 year left on his contract, they could send him to a team looking for veteran leadership and be able to pull something valuable out of it. They could end up sending him to Ottawa who is looking for depth talent on the wings in exchange for Jason Spezza, who the Stars are pursuing in earnest at the moment but will require a trade in order to come to Big D, or anywhere else for that matter, and Cole could be that trade requirement.

But I just don’t know how this is going to pan out. But I do know that Cole, despite the constant neglecting from “fans”, is a key to the Stars’ success come next year and they need to use him to their advantage.

We’ll have to wait and see how Nill works this situation out. Though he will ultimately help us for the better in the end, my gut is telling me that Erik Cole won’t be wearing green come October. But who knows?

The Stars are on the rise. Who’s going to carry them all the way there? We don’t know yet.

But please hit me up with your comments below, and GO STARS.


Tags: Analysis Dallas Dallas Stars Erik Cole NHL Season

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