Carolina Hurricanes: The strange tale of Erik Cole’s draft selection

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Erik Cole of the Carolina Hurricanes

Erik Cole, Carolina Hurricanes  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

In Carolina Hurricanes’ franchise history, only nine players have scored more points than Erik Cole.  Today, we take a look at a winding series of trades that led to the power forward’s draft selection.

Trades are a common occurrence in the NHL; players and draft picks get shuffled by general managers looking to either shake up their team, bolster a contending roster, or plan for the future.  Sometimes they work out; other times they don’t.  Hindsight is a wonderful gift when assessing these moves, and today we take a Pepe Silvia-level look at a series of events that began nearly 25 years ago, before the Carolina Hurricanes even existed.

We start on the twenty-seventh of July, 1995.  Brendan Shanahan, a two-time 50 goal scorer at the time, is traded from the St. Louis Blues to the Hartford Whalers.  Going to the Gateway City is a 20-year-old defenseman named Chris Pronger.  The price is steep, but landing an offensive talent like Shanahan seems like a coup for the small-market team.

And it is, for now.

Shanahan led the Whalers in goals (44) and points (78) in the 1995-96 season.  He racked up 31 power play points, including 17 goals.  Hartford improved in the standings but failed to qualify for the postseason.  That was okay, they had their offensive star and could move on to better years.  Only they couldn’t.

The Whalers had the third-worst attendance in the NHL during Shanahan’s first season.  The year before, they sat second to last.  A contract that the team had with the city of Hartford was set to expire within 2 years and Peter Karmanos, who had purchased the team in 1994, indicated that the team would likely leave.

Citing the team’s instability, Shanahan requested a trade.

Oh boy.

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