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Time To Cool The Ian Cole Trade Talks

The Ian Cole trade talks have always been puzzling. But with Schultz’s injury, they’ve been put on ice.
Photo by Charles LeClaire/USA Today Sports

With Justin Schultz injured again, the importance for defensive depth is once again on display for the Penguins. Consequently, the trade talks involving Ian Cole have subsided for the time being. Trade rumors have been prevalent for the past few weeks and reached a pinnacle when Cole sat out three consecutive games as a healthy scratch. Since sitting out the games on November 24th, 25th, and 27th, Cole has played in four consecutive games, posting a -1 rating, blocking nine shots, picking up 1 assist, and taking one minor penalty.

Ironically, it was a trade that landed Cole in Pittsburgh in 2015 when he was traded from St. Louis in exchange for defenseman Robert Bortuzzo and a seventh round pick. He’s currently in the last season of a three-year contract that pays him $2.1 million per season. Since he arrived in Pittsburgh he has amassed seven goals and 43 assists in the regular season, as well as one goal and 13 assists in the playoffs. While Cole ?s offensive prowess has certainly improved since becoming a Penguin, his best attributes are on the defensive side of the puck, where, in his time with Pittsburgh, he has recorded 395 blocked shots in the regular season and added another 128 blocked shots in post-season play. His 194 blocked shots last season ranked third in the NHL.

Looking down the depth chart for the Penguins, the defenseman that slid into the lineup when Cole was a healthy scratch was Chad Ruhwedel. The 27-year old defenseman is actually only a year younger than Cole and has been up and down between the AHL and the NHL since breaking in with the Sabres during the 2012-13 season. He has never played more than 34 games in an NHL season and cannot realistically be considered as a viable replacement if Cole were to be traded.

The perplexing part of these trade rumors is that Cole is the only player of his type on the team. He is the only stay-at-home, physical defenseman that the Penguins have on their roster. This being said, one would think if the Penguins traded him away that they would want to get a similar type of defenseman in return, which begs the question — why trade him? Another item that makes the trade rumors curious is that Cole is one of the Penguins ? best penalty killers. With the departures of Nick Bonino and Matt Cullen, amongst others, the Penguins penalty kill has suffered this season; they are currently ranked 21st in the league.

Perhaps there is no grand plan to trade Cole and head coach Mike Sullivan was merely trying to motivate him by having him observe from the press box for a few games. Remember, this is not the first time Sullivan has healthy-scratched Cole for an extended period. Cole was a healthy scratch for 12-consecutive games from January 23, 2016-February 21, 2016. Further, the only reason he got into the game on February 21 was because Ben Lovejoy was injured. However, from then on he was a regular in the lineup and performed admirably, especially in the post-season en route to a Stanley Cup Championship. Therefore, one could argue that Sullivan ?s strategy has worked with Cole in the past. There have been whispers in the past that Sullivan does not care for Cole’s personality, as Cole has been quite forthcoming at times in the media.

Rutherford has shown that going out and getting something in exchange for a player that is not likely to be re-signed is not a top priority. Case in point, last season it was apparent that Bonino, Trevor Daley, and Chris Kunitz were not going to be re-signed at season ?s end. However, Rutherford believed that they were key pieces to another run at a championship and did not move them. Nobody is going to argue that Cole is as an important piece to a third-consecutive Stanley Cup as Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin, but he is certainly a player with a skillset that is not currently replicated on the Penguins and that is something important to consider before fans or the front office look to trade Cole away.

Professional sports writer, fluent in sarcasm and other humorous arts. Bachelor and Master degrees from Duquesne University. Member of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association. Have previously written for many outlets, including the AP, Sports Xchange, PA SportsTicker, etc. Regularly appear as a guest on local sports radio. Expert at Name That Tune and proficient in many other areas of useless knowledge.

11 Comments on Time To Cool The Ian Cole Trade Talks

  1. mark delsignore // December 8, 2017 at 9:31 AM //

    Trade talk for Cole?

    All talk.

    Way too early to talk NHL trades for the Pens.

  2. Great Read. I don ?t They ever let him go.. they will sign him sign him back for a cheap deal..

    Please Write Some on why Sullivan continues to keep Shearyvon Sid ?s line when he is not a great fit for Sid, He weighs him Down..He is lost inconsistent speed winger.. He is not contributing enough.. Sid make him look good..He turns the pucks numerous of times.. He keeps Sid stuck in defense zone .. Making Sid plays hard defense with sustained pressure to get offense.. He parts Sid continues slow production.. Why Sullivan Removed Jake especially Horrny when they are better wingers for Sid ? No Sheary.. He is not a topvline caliber winger.. 2 goals .. in 16 games.. no defense.. he didn ?t even help on Islanders first goal after Sid bad hit .. he just stood ther wandering his stick like always do…Why Sid won ?t be selfish to shoot the puck while he is on his line ?

    • Kevin Schafer // December 8, 2017 at 3:15 PM //

      Way too early to talk NHL trades for the Pens.

      Rutherford has a history of making trades in December.

    • Anna Gregg // December 9, 2017 at 6:05 PM //

      I agree 100% with everything you’ve said. Unfortunately, Sully has a tendency to favor his those he coached in WBS. Add to that the fact that Sheary is engaged to his niece, and you have you’re answer.

      • Yes. Agree. 100% . I truly believe that from others bringing that up in comments. I said it before my neck got chop off in comments on Penburgh. He has been off his line for like third games (surprising)but last night ?s game Sullivan put him back with Sid again. I hope it ?s not permanently because Sheary will get on the second or third lines show he wants to play a tiny bit better. He gets back with Sid he does the same old nonsense over and over then the right winger gets the bump before him. Right now I ?m very fine with Jake and Simon . I expected maybe a new winger along side Sid and Jake due to the fact Sid needs consistency and stability no one not getting why he is up and down because Sullivan happens to stop with line shuffling and fix defense. This why Sid is struggling.this season. Blame on Reechi and Sullivan. He was fine with Jake , Hq and Rust early in the season.Sid had about 5 line changes in the Arizona game.

    • Aaron Eichhorn // December 13, 2017 at 10:18 AM //

      Lol, tiny you got banned from Pensburgh because of your constant badgering of Sheary. Glad to see your still at it.

      • Who are you? No one. I didn ?t get ban from nothing. I stop writing on there because I can ?t have my opinions from what I have seen is games with Connor Sheary as well Letang who needs to be traded with Sheary. I can have my opinions and say what I feel without people getting mad at me because what I comment on a team I love. I stand by what I have said Sheary doesn ?t not belong on Sid ?s line at all. Games from two years ago to now proofs what I having been saying. I don ?t care about his points. He is C- winger. Stop worrying about where I comment . Carry on.

        • Aaron Eichhorn // December 21, 2017 at 6:50 AM //

          No you were banned. You actually had 2 accounts so that you had someone agree with you. Both accounts were from same address. But you lied then also so i don’t expect the truth now.

  3. Vince Comunale // December 8, 2017 at 2:53 PM //

    I agree with you about Sheary. I’m not sure why Hornqvist is always the first guy to be pulled from that line when he is the most consistent. The problem is that Sheary is not a bottom-six player. In other words, if he isn’t playing on the top line then he might as well not be playing, whereas the coaching staff knows Hornqvist can play on any line.

    • Yes. 100% . I have seen some journalists and fan wanting him to be off Sid ?s line permanently and include him in a trade to help with 3C and some defense. Wondering what GMJR will do now today before hockey trade freeze cut off.

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