The Dallas Stars have improved their roster greatly this summer, perhaps more than any other team, making moves to acquire some upper tier talent, while also managing to maintain the integrity of their farm system throughout their multiple trades. What these acquisitions have led to is at least one player on the roster now becoming a bit overshadowed.
When the Stars gave up Michael Ryder to acquire Erik Cole, the motives weren’t as clear as they were on the other end. After all, Cole had a longer term contact to worry about, whereas Ryder’s deal was up at the end of the year. The questions didn’t go away when Cole arrived, as his struggles carried on for much of the year.
In 28 games for the Stars, he posted only seven points, a far cry where he was in the 2011-12 season, when he finished with over 60 points, including a career best 35 goals. Some wondered if the Stars would use a buyout to rid themselves of Cole and the two years remaining on his deal.
That didn’t happen, though, and the Stars will instead rely on Cole to be a key piece of their club for the 2013-14 season. Now flying under the radar, there’s little doubt that Cole will be better. He’ll not only be a key piece on the ice, but a veteran presence in a relatively young locker room as well.
Cole experienced something of a revolving door as far as his linemates were concerned in 2013. Which is probably what we can attribute a lot of his struggles to. With some consistency in those playing next to him, he should easily improve, in addition to the fact that he’s now comfortable in his new surroundings in Dallas.
Heading into the season with the new-look Stars, Cole will likely be flying under the radar, at least early on in the year. He still has plenty of game, as his play style shouldn’t lead to his overall game diminishing even as he gets older. He should see a return to form, with some consistency in his linemates, and an improved team overall.