Toronto Maple Leafs: Should they contact the Penguins about Ian Cole?

The Pittsburgh Penguins have reportedly been looking to move Ian Cole and he could be a person of interest for the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The Pittsburgh Penguins have had defenceman Ian Cole sitting the past three games as a healthy scratch. However, according to Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette this has been by design and is potentially something the Toronto Maple Leafs need to look into.

Mackey reported through a source that the Penguins have been actively shopping the 28-year-old and a couple of teams have reported interest. It is not known if the Leafs have shown interest and frankly it would be tough to determine that, since the organization operates like a vault.

Cole’s availability does not come as a result of performance as Mackey reports, it is because the Penguins know they will not be able to retain him past this season. So instead of losing him for nothing, Pittsburgh would rather explore his trade value.

The Ann-Arbor, MI-native is known for his strong defensive play as a shutdown player especially as an effective shot blocker but does not offer high-end offensive play. Mackey notes that in 20 games Cole has been on the ice for just 11 goals-against, which is the second fewest among Penguins defencemen.

He, along with current Leafs’ defenceman Ron Hainsey, helped Pittsburgh get their second straight Stanley Cup with injuries taking a toll on their blueline.

For those wondering how his shutdown style plays out in terms of possession. Over the course of his career, Cole has been an above average player in corsi and fenwick percentage.

In his article, Mackey points out an interesting stat from natrualstattrick.com:

Cole has been on the ice for 6.8 scoring chances-against per game, according to naturalstattrick.com, which leads the group, and 2.8 high-danger chances. That ranks second.

For a Leafs team that has struggled to contain a high volume of scoring chances, it would be a worthwhile opportunity to see if Cole can in come at a reasonable cost. His addition would help lighten the load for Hainsey and Nikita Zaitsev especially on the penalty kill, with Roman Polak struggling to stick in the lineup.

What the Penguins would likely need in return for Cole is depth scoring which is something the Leafs can help address. The Leafs would also need to send a third pairing defenceman back to Pittsburgh which might be a tough sell.

Obviously the Leafs will not see Cole as a long-term option on the blue line since he will look to get a raise in free agency. He is making $2.1-million this season, which is a manageable cap-hit.

The Leafs would also need to send a contract back to Pittsburgh as they have 49 players signed and it is not known what type of depth scoring they need. It never hurts for Toronto to make an inquiry and they have shown in the past that they are not afraid to go out and make a move to improve the team, like they did with Brian Boyle last season.

Do you think the Toronto Maple Leafs should make a call on Cole? Is he the right fit for them? What would you give up to acquire him? Let us know in the comments below. 

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