I have to admit I share my Twitter pal Simon Boisvert’s fears about the length of the Erik Cole deal – four years for a 32-year-old – but I think Simon – who you can find on Twitter at @simonsnake70 – is being overly pessimistic when he says Cole’s contract will be talked about like the Gomez contract in a couple of years.
But his tweet does underline the risks in this sort of deal. You just never know what you’ll get. Like every Habs fan, I love Andrei Markov but I have to wonder if he’ll be able to bounce back from the horrific injuries that have dogged him the last two years. I sure hope he does but those fears are why I wouldn’t have signed him for three years.
So first reaction is it’s gonna be great to see Cole in a Habs jersey come this fall – if only cos he will no longer be scoring goals against us. This is a guy who had 14 goals and 11 assists in 28 career games against Montreal. And he’s a big – six-foot-two/205 pounds – tough forward, something that’s been in short supply chez les Habs for several years now.
And if The Gazette’s Pat Hickey is right and the No. 1 line is gonna be Cole with Michael Cammalleri and Tomas Plekanec, I sure like the sound of that. Add to that what Hickey suggests is the second line – Max Pacioretty, Brian Gionta, and Scott Gomez – and you have a pretty good Top Six – ummm actually make that a pretty good Top Five given the Gomer factor. (Let’s just say Pat is being way too kind when he suggests there may be a “re-energized Scott Gomez” come this fall. Gomez’s problem isn’t a lack of energy. He actually has plenty of it. He’s just no good at putting points on the board, period.)
But the question mark is the length of the Cole deal. Four years is indeed a long time. By the end of the contract, he’ll be 36-and-a-half and for a rugged forward, that is indeed old. And what if he doesn’t take to the Canadiens environment? A few days before the deal, Pierre MacGuire on the Team 990 reminded Mitch Melnick that Cole had not prospered the only other time he left Carolina – when he played for Edmonton in 08-09, delivering a mediocre 27-point season.
And he has had his injuries over the years. He was out for months with a fractured vertebra in his neck the year the ‘Canes won the Cup in 2006. And he only played 40 games in 2009-10 for the Hurricanes due to a broken tibia and a shoulder injury. He plays tough – which is something les Habs need – but has paid the price for that t0ughness.
So there are questions about the deal. His salary soars from $2.8 million to $4.5 million, and Gauthier was forced to stretch the contract from three to four years in order to nab Cole.
Short version? The Canadiens are a better team with Cole in the line-up but jury is out on how Habs fans will feel about the deal in a few years.