By now you have probably heard that Detroit has nabbed veteran winger Erik Cole and a conditional 3rd round draft pick from the Dallas Stars for a 2nd round draft pick, prospects Mattias Backman, and Mattias Janmark. So who is Erik Cole?
#72 LW | 6'2", 210 lbs. | Dallas
Birth Date: November 6, 1978 (36 years old)
Place of Birth: Oswego, NY
Shoots:L Experience: 12 years
Drafted: Drafted by Carolina in 1998, 71st overall
Erik Cole is one of those "lead-by-example" type players. He hits hard, skates well for his age, and has a natural ability to score. You could definitely consider him to be the piano-moving type. Cole won a Stanley Cup with Carolina in 2006, so he has seen his fair share of playoff runs. Cole is a slightly positive-possession player on a slightly positive-possession team. His relative numbers are a little below his teammates. He's spent the most minutes with Jason Spezza and Ales Hemsky, although his usage chart suggests usage more in line with a top-9 player than a real top-6 as it's something like a sheltered 2nd liner or a regular 3rd. He's also had usage on Dallas' 2nd power play unit. Cole is riding a sky-high shooting percentage at 18.4%, but his career average of 12% is good. What Cole brings is his style of play. He's not a very big forward, but he is big and he skates like it. Cole will push up the wing with speed and lean on defenders. He's good along the boards and has the kind of finish that the Wings need for a guy who can get to loose pucks in dirty areas. He's also a great fit for the second line when Henrik Zetterberg returns. He is simply the kind of player you can use in all situations. It will also be interesting to see if they use Cole as a guy to get up in front of the goalie when on the power-play. I imagine that since Darren Helm had that responsibility on the 2nd unit, it's hard to not believe that Cole is destined to be used in that situation.
How does this affect the cap and roster situation?
Capwise, picking up Cole leaves the Wings with about another $5M in cap space to play with (which could be extended farther by adding Franzen to LTIR). It doesn't absolutely preclude another move, but it removes the Wings' 2nd round draft pick from the pool, so it does complicate things. With Henrik Zetterberg currently on IR, the Wings won't have to make a roster move to fit Cole in immediately and won't have any continuing issues after the deadline, as the 23-man roster limit disappears, meaning neither Jurco nor Pulkkinen has to give up a roster spot in the near-term. There is also a very good chance that if Darren Helm does not miss too much time, this might force Detroit into bumping a player like Joakim Andersson from a spot in the lineup.
What did it cost us?
Detroit ponied up two prospects in this trade. One being center Mattias Janmark, and the other being defenseman Mattias Backman. Both players are currently playing in Sweden, so it doesn't deplete any assets from what Detroit has in the system, in my opinion. Backman was viewed as "almost NHL ready" last season, but couldn't stay among the cream of the defensive prospect crop and lost patience, returning to Sweden and severely limiting his chances of making the Red Wings' main roster in the future. Janmark is an interesting case of a center with good prospects, but I feel that he's largely fallen off Detroit's radar at center lately with Nosek, Athanasiou, and Larkin all playing well this season. It may truly be the performance of Axel Holmstrom that made the 22-year old Janmark truly expendable before he reached waiver eligibility.
Losing the 2nd round pick isn't fun, but Detroit receives a 3rd round pick if they get eliminated from the playoffs in the 1st of 2nd round. It's a nice gamble by Ken Holland.. If Detroit makes it to the conference finals, then having no 2nd or 3rd round picks are likely the last thing on my mind. Plus, I feel very confident that Holland will flip his 1st round pick for a combination for 2nd or 3rd round pick, much like we have seen in recent years.
All in all, I really like this trade. You bring in a depth guy who can play anywhere, and give you a strong gritty game. When it comes to playoff hockey, you want guys who can make room and lay the body to get the puck. Given the assets Detroit dished out, I think it's a great acquisition for a team who is hungry to dive into the playoffs and tear it up. What are your thoughts, gang?