Dallas Stars 2013-14 Season Grades: Erik Cole

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

We take a look back at the up-and-down season of the Stars sniping wing.

Once again it's that time of year here on Defending Big D where we take a look at each player that suited up for 20 or more games this season (and finished the season with the team) - and take a look back at their season. What was good about it, what wasn't so good, and the lasting impression they left us as we go into summer.

Regular season statistics:

GP G A Pts PIMs +/- TOI Corsi Rel OZ starts
75 16 13 29 20 -17 15:09 -2.0% 52.9%

Playoff statistics:

GP G A Pts PIMs +/- TOI Corsi Rel OZ starts
3 0 0 0 0 -3 9:51 -13.5% 61.9%

Key Stat: 1 point- That's the number of points Cole registered after his dramatic game-winning goal against the Minnesota Wild. That's a stretch of 11 regular season games and three playoff games where he had one goal and no assists while putting up a minus-8 rating. Now he out injured for two weeks or so during that stretch, and pure goal scorers are always a little streaky, but he ended up on the wrong side of the slide down the stretch.

The Good: When Cole is good, he is a force to be reckoned with both on and off the puck. He was one of the most dangerous pure releases on the Stars - probably third behind Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn - and his speed helps him fight right in with the Stars new style of play. He had maybe my favorite shift of the season as part of his whale of a night against the Minnesota Wild on the night the team retired Modano's number, and even in some games where he didn't score, like the playoff-clinching win over St. Louis, he was a wrecking ball in the neutral zone, creating multiple odd-man rushes. He finished tied for fourth on the team in goals in six fewer games than Cody Eakin, the player he was tied with.

The Bad: When Cole is bad, he is very problematic. He was scratched for three playoff games and didn't make much of the time he was in. His possession numbers in the season were below average, and they dropped to horrific in the playoffs despite favorable zone deployment. Cole is the type of player who needs to make an impact on the scoreboard to have a good game, and his inability to be a consistent force was one of the big reasons the Stars had a drop off between the big two forwards and the rest of the team.

Bottom Line: Cole is signed for another year at a $4.5 million cap hit, and his value to this team really depends on what type of game he brings to the table (and, perhaps, how much of his downtime this season was affected by his early and late season injuries). He doesn't seem to have lost a step despite getting up there in terms of athletic years, and when he is on, he is as dangerous a sniper as the Stars have. But he had too many off nights this season for everyone's sake.

Vote now: Rate Cole on a scale of A to F (A being the best of course) based on his performance relative to his potential and your expectations for the season.

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