Whether the Dallas Stars are going to be buyers, sellers, or a little bit of both at the 2015 NHL trade deadline is yet to be determined. It'll be decided by their play in the coming games, and there are cases to be made for the Stars taking any of those approaches.
Their approach to the deadline will impact several players on the team, and today we're looking at the impact on Erik Cole.
Cole has been a steady producer for the Stars this season. He brings a hard work ethic, speed, a decently physical force on the puck and tenacious forechecking. Sometimes he tries too hard to make those plays, and it can lead to adventurous defensive plays needed to recover the chance coming against because of it.
Every player has their pros and cons, and the pros that Cole brings to the table would be very appealing to a Stanley Cup contender looking for that last piece to add to their top six or added depth for injury insurance.
The fact that Cole is an unrestricted free agent this coming summer means that he won't fetch a ridiculous return, but a decent draft pick or middling prospect would likely be what the Stars could expect.
But with him being tied for third on the Stars in goal scoring, should the Stars consider trading him?
Cole has recently helped stabilize the Jason Spezza / Ales Hemsky pairing and added a little bit of a spark there in the way of production. With the Stars anticipating Valeri Nichushkin's return in March (assuming he stays on track with his rehabilitation) Cole's production could be replaced with Nichushkin, in theory.
The Stars are going to need that production if they hope to claw their way into the playoff picture, and would be one of those teams that would love to have his play if and when they do reach the playoffs.
Another positive aspect to keeping Cole is it allows the Stars flexibility in their top six, with Cole's ability to play up the lineup should injuries occur or someone go cold on the production front and need a shakeup. It would also insure that Nichushkin isn't rushed back too soon because they need him in the lineup and allow for prospects like Brett Richie and Curtis McKenzie to continue their development with big minutes in Texas.
If Cole isn't part of the Stars near-term plan, and he isn't likely to re-sign here, then the Stars should consider moving him as a good asset management move. Cole the player would also likely be grateful for a chance to play for a contender at this point in his career, and it is a move that could benefit both sides.
What do you think -- does Cole get traded at the deadline, or does he stay to help push the Stars to a playoff position this year? Do you see him as a near-term plan moving forward for the Stars?