The math tells us Craig MacTavish is going to have an interesting dilemma regarding Erik Cole’s ideal spot in the batting order.
Last season at 5×5 he faced giants every night with only average men at his side, and performed pretty well(73gp, 12-22-34, +5). Dustin Penner’s 5×5 numbers (82gp, 10-15-25, -12 in 50 more EV minutes than Cole) are not in the same ballpark, especially considering Penner had better linemates pretty much every night (based on Desjardins).
There’s a decision to be made in regard to Cole and Penner. In a perfect world, MacT would line Cole up with Horcoff and Hemsky and run power v. power every night in the heart of the order. However, if this team is going to have some balance and be able to send more than one heavy lifting line over the boards (especially on the road) it’s probably necessary to place Cole on a line with Fernando Pisani. Cole got results in Carolina in a somewhat similar situation and must have had exceptional value to the team. If they go that route, what will it affect?
Cole’s counting numbers. I think he can probably duplicate the EV numbers above with Pisani if they can find a center among Brodziak, Cogliano or Pouliot and there is some evidence the monster PP minutes in Carolina (4 per night) might be better used at EVs and PK. So if you send Cole’s line over the boards to take the shift after an Oiler powerplay and he does the job without scoring 50 points is everyone going to be happy? Who cares.