Earlier this morning, Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli spoke to the media for the first time this season. In his press conference, he mentioned depth on defense, multiple times, as an issue on the roster. At other points in the press conference, Chiarelli mentioned that he is looking to make moves to help this team if he can.
Connecting the dots, I think it is pretty safe to assume that the Oilers GM is out there looking for help when it comes to his defensive group, as he should be. Neither Eric Gryba or Yohann Auvitu are everyday NHL’ers, and that has hurt the Oilers each and every night. They need another NHL option back there and they needed it in July.
Enter the Pittsburgh Penguins, who are currently in a bit of a bind with one of their better defenders from last season’s run to yet another Stanley Cup.
A Closer Look At Ian Cole:
The left-shooting defender was a stud last year for the Penguins in the postseason. He played far over his expected level of play, but Cole stepped up in a big moment and that absolutely counts for something. He’s not a top-four defender, but he’s a legit NHL’er who can play the five/six role without any real issue.
Cole posted 5-21-26 in 81 games a year ago, then went 0-9-9 in 25 playoff games as the Penguins won their second Stanley Cup in a row. This season, Cole has played just twenty games and gone 1-2-3. In the last three Pittsburgh games, including last night’s OT win over Philadelphia, Cole has been a healthy scratch.
Here’s a look at Cole’s scouting report via The Hockey News:
|Can play a quality shutdown role, if need be. Has good size and strength, the ability to play a physical brand of hockey from the back end and some puck-moving skills.|
|Doesn’t have the high-end ability to be much of a factor on power plays. Needs to become more consistent in order to maximize his overall shutdown acumen.|
Potential Price To Pay:
The Penguins have healthy scratched Cole and given him permission to seek other opportunities around the league, so I highly doubt you see him generate much of a return for Pittsburgh. Would a 3rd round pick get it done? That’s the price that the Penguins paid to Edmonton for Justin Schultz almost two years ago, when Schultz was in a tough position with the Oilers.
I think a mid-round pick or a mid-level prospect should get Cole out of Pittsburgh, and I’d be willing to give that up if I were Peter Chiarelli.
Even with Andrej Sekera coming back from injury soon, the Oilers need to add something to their backend to provide more depth. Ian Cole isn’t a homerun, but hes a solid NHL’er that could help this hockey team. If Jim Rutherford is willing to deal him for the right price, Chiarelli should be picking up the phone and trying to get him on board.