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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 WSH 52 39 9 4 171 117 82
2 FLA 54 32 16 6 150 122 70
3 NYR 53 30 18 5 150 135 65
4 NYI 52 28 18 6 145 129 62
5 TBL 53 29 20 4 140 127 62
6 DET 53 27 18 8 133 131 62
7 BOS 53 28 19 6 153 146 62
8 PIT 52 27 18 7 138 132 61
9 NJD 55 27 21 7 122 123 61
10 MTL 55 27 24 4 147 145 58
11 CAR 54 24 21 9 130 142 57
12 OTT 54 25 23 6 153 166 56
13 PHI 52 23 20 9 122 137 55
14 BUF 54 21 27 6 124 146 48
15 CBJ 55 21 28 6 137 170 48
16 TOR 52 19 24 9 120 144 47

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Faulk 54 15 19 -13 34
J. Skinner 54 19 12 -3 31
V. Rask 52 12 19 0 31
J. Staal 54 12 19 8 31
K. Versteeg 53 10 21 1 31
E. Staal 54 9 21 0 30
E. Lindholm 54 8 16 -9 24
A. Nestrasil 47 7 12 0 19
J. Nordstrom 43 5 9 2 14
R. Hainsey 54 3 11 -11 14
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 15 11 6 .908 2.38
E. Lack 9 10 3 .901 2.74
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