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Cole Expects to Return Next Season

Friday, 05.29.2009 / 11:44 AM ET / Tracking the Storm
By Paul Branecky
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Cole Expects to Return Next Season
Following his exit interview with GM Jim Rutherford, Erik Cole seemed confident that he would re-sign with the Hurricanes this summer.

Paul Branecky
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As an unrestricted free agent, Cole can sign with another team as early as July 1 with no compensation to Carolina.  The Hurricanes will have the right of first refusal until then.

"I would expect that this is where I'll be (next season)," he said.  "This was the organization that I first came in with, and there's a lot of loyalty there."

Even before he answered the direct question of whether or not he thought he would be coming back, Cole spoke of next season as though it was already a foregone conclusion that he would be a part of it.

"There are some positive things to build on," he said.  "The team will have to make some decisions on what we need to do to be better.  Whatever happens, I hope that I'm a part of it."

Cole made it clear that his family would play a role in his decision.  Even before the team re-acquired him from Edmonton at the trade deadline, his family was already planning to return to their home in Raleigh on a permanent basis.

"This is an area that we see ourselves living in for the long-term after hockey," he said.

Even though Cole has publicly stated his desire to return, there is still work to be done to make that a reality.  The team's management will have to agree on an appropriate valuation of the player, who performed very well at the end of the regular season but went without a goal in 18 playoff games.

"Erik Cole's playoff performance would not eliminate him as being part of our team next year," said Rutherford at a Thursday press conference.  "We still need that type of player and he's still a good player."

Besides the obvious knee injury he sustained in Game 1 of the Pittsburgh series, Cole was coy about whether or not he had been playing with any additional ailments.

"I had a couple of different minor injuries is all I'll say."

Now, it's time for the business side of the equation to go to work.

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EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Skinner 82 28 23 -2 51
V. Rask 80 21 27 -6 48
J. Staal 82 20 28 6 48
E. Lindholm 82 11 28 -23 39
J. Faulk 64 16 21 -22 37
J. Nordstrom 71 10 14 1 24
A. Nestrasil 55 9 14 4 23
R. Nash 64 9 13 -5 22
N. Hanifin 79 4 18 -14 22
J. Slavin 63 2 18 1 20
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 23 17 10 .909 2.41
E. Lack 12 14 6 .901 2.81