On November 25, 2010, I wrote about Erik Cole and how I wanted him to fill our left wing need.

I love Erik Cole. His speed, his two-way game, his ability to bury the puck and his leadership. He has a ring. He got that with Justin Williams.

The fact he is a left wing only endears me to him more.

Add to that he played all 82 games this past season. No injury issues, knock wood. He put up 26 goals and 26 points on a playoff bubble team, at best. He took 201 shots on goal. That is a .129 percentage. That is impressive.

“Why wouldn’t the Hurricanes just sign Cole?”

NHL economics.

They have Jussi Jokinen, Joni Pitkanen and Chad LaRose in addition to Erik Cole to worry about. They are a small market team that cannot sustain a big market payroll especially without playoff appearances to keep the fan base coming. If people don’t walk in through the gate, the bottom line suffers. Carolina’s bottom line is suffering.

Now, let’s move to Erik Cole. He is 32 years old. His next contract may be his last contract. He needs security for himself and family. Ideally, he wants 4-5 years, $3.5 to $4 million. He was paid just under $3 million last season. He also put up solid numbers after struggling with injuries the two prior. What’s he worth? $3.5 to $4 million, 3-4 years. He is exactly the “mid-range” Ryan Smyth replacement the LA Kings need although I would understand if Dean struggles going beyond 3 years with Cole, even with the slim pickings reality of the current UFA crop.

Coincidentally, another option is another Carolina Hurricane left wing in Jussi Jokinen. 5 years younger, about the same point totals and comparable to Cole except I would take Erik’s physical two-way game and consistency. Cole is simply a better fit.

For my money, Erik Cole makes a ton of sense. I proposed it back in November. I am doing so again today. Kopitar, Williams, Richards, Brown and Cole is one hell of a 5 out of 6. If Dustin Penner gets his act together, that is a top 6 I would put up against Vancouver and San Jose any game, any time, regardless of the stakes. Does Dean do it? GO KINGS!