Erik Cole was another rental Ken Holland paid a steep price for that didn’t work out for the Detroit Red Wings.
Again I was excited to see Erik Cole in the Detroit Red Wings lineup; he had a good reputation throughout the league for being a hard-working winger. He played like a power forward who could chip in on the scoresheet regularly. Cole wasn’t afraid to throw his 6’2, 215-pound frame around.
Ken Holland acquired the veteran winger at the 2015 NHL deadline to try and preserve the active playoff streak that meant more to ownership than rebuilding and contending. If the organization would have maintained their picks and prospects back, then they would likely be contenders now rather than still being in the midst of a rebuild.
It’s incredible to think back, wondering why a franchise with great ownership would settle for constant first round playoff exits in exchange for a meaningless playoff streak. When Ken Holland made the deal for Cole, they had aspirations to resign the veteran winger. What you can never count on are injuries.
Cole merely played 11 total games as a member of the Detroit Red Wings before suffering a career-ending spine injury. The Wings landed defense prospect Villie Saarijavi in the deal; he’s expected to make a push this summer to make the Wings team, so it wasn’t a complete disappointment.
The Wings sent Mattias Backman, Mattias Janmark with a second round pick that would end up being Roope Hintz to the Stars for Cole and Saarijavi. If you happened to watch the Dallas Stars during these playoffs, you were likely impressed with this Hintz kid. He plays at an incredible pace similar to Andreas Athanasiou. There is no guarantee the Wings would have selected Hintz with the 49th overall pick in 2015, but it’s interesting to think about what he’d look like now in the Wings lineup. It would be speed on top of speed every shift.