Erik Cole had 22 goals and 51 points in 73 games this season. (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)
Okay, now Kevin Lowe’s plans are starting to make more sense. And the Edmonton Oilers are starting to look a lot less recognizable.
Making his third major trade in as many days, Lowe sent defenseman Joni Pitkanen to Carolina Tuesday afternoon in exchange for right winger Erik Cole.
Pitkanen’s destiny was clearly sealed after the Oilers acquired well-paid blueliner Lubomir Visnovsky from Los Angeles Sunday. The 24-year-old Finn will give the Canes the mobile, offensively skilled D-man they’ve sought for a couple years now, though they’ll first have to cough up between $4 million and $5 million a season to sign the restricted free agent.
In Cole, Edmonton receives a veteran who will provide leadership and experience to a roster that requires both to move into playoff contention. And even if the 29-year-old isn’t a good fit, he’s only got one year and $4 million left on his deal before he becomes an unrestricted free agent next summer.
Of course, that could be a double-edged sword if Cole surpasses expectations, but that’s a problem Lowe probably would prefer to have.
Combined with Lowe’s first deal of July 1 – that would be the shipping of left winger Raffi Torres to Columbus in return for young center Gilbert Brule – the Oilers now look to be a team that has a better balance of youth and quality veterans than the ones that failed to make the playoffs the past two seasons.
And something tells me Lowe might not be finished just yet. He’s said to be going hard after Marian Hossa and could be willing to overpay to the tune of $9 million a year to get him, though it will still be a tough sell to get Hossa to go to the Oilers.