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06-21-2006, 11:41 PM
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Erik Cole had the classic power forward syndrome. He was a player that showed a great set of hands and a fantastic touch around the net but wasn't able to put the whole package together until his body was totally mature and he felt confident enough to use his talents to create offense, wreak havoc, and be a huge player on a night in and night out basis.
I gotta disagree.

I just don't think he falls into that category. Most players don't go from 18 goals to 40 THAT late.
Even in the lockout year he wasn't lighting the world on fire.

For every Erik Cole there are a ton of other guys who never take it up to that next level.

The Playoffs in 2002 was a real glimpse towards the Erik Cole that would eventually emerge this season. That more than anything gave me hope that there was more to his offensive upside than just a 40 point year. He really hit his stride last year during the lockout, which was his 25 to 26 year old year when most power forwards put it together, and he translated that success into even bigger success with Carolina this year.
How does his production in Europe (which was again not spectacular) translate into 40 goals and 80 points without injury?

I really don't see that, even during the lockout he wasn't THAT dynamic.

When Cole first went down, Eric Staal really looked lost without him and that translated to less points for the line and while Staal was on pace for about 120 points, he only ended with about 100 in comparison. Staal eventually found his game in the playoffs and connected with his new linemates, but he wasn't as effective as he was in the early part of the year. These two players really clicked with one another and it should be a dangerous combination for the future.

I can see how nobody would have seen this coming, but I have been discussing the probability of Erik Cole breaking out and becoming a premiere player for at least the past four years since that awesome playoff year. I couldn't be convinced that there was nothing to the fact that he exhibited really fine speed, touch, and aggression during that year.
And no one is denying that he did it, the real question is how realistic of an expectation was it?

25 goals, even 55 points would have been a break out year, but we're talking about almost tripling his goal average and doubling his point totals. That's a bit more than breaking out and that's why I don't think anyone could have said a year ago or even at the start of the year that Cole was going to hit those numbers.

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