Thursday, May 31, 2007

NHL Draft Prospect: Ian Cole

We’ll continue our 2007 NHL Draft coverage with a look at some individual players. Today, we’ll look at NTDP defenseman Ian Cole.

Cole is originally a native of Ann Arbor, Michigan, and played his early years of hockey in the Ann Arbor Amateur Hockey Association. As he started to develop into a top prospect, Cole moved on to the famed Compuware AAA program. When he was 15, he chose to play closer to Ann Arbor with the Victory Honda Midget Minor team.

That spring, he was offered a spot on the NTDP team. Cole was known as a strong, physical defenseman, but there were questions about his foot speed and skating ability. Notre Dame was very interested in him, however. Cole was familiar with Notre Dame because he had been coached by Notre Dame assistant Andy Slaggert. He also received interest from Michigan and Wisconsin. In the end, Cole picked Notre Dame and became Jeff Jackson’s first ever recruit at Notre Dame.

With the NTDP, Cole continued to develop thanks to his impressive work ethic. He gained 20 lbs. in the weight room to put over 200 lbs. That size not only makes him effective physically, it also makes it extremely difficult for him to be knocked off the puck.

Cole made another jump in development in his second year with the NTDP, becoming one of the team’s top defenseman. Cole became more comfortable with his role on the team, and started to show more offensive flair, as well as playing better defensively. He capped off his NTDP career with an impressive showing at the World U18 championships where he impressed scouts as one of the team’s top defenseman.

He is probably best described as an all-around defenseman. His strongest area is probably on the defensive side, where he can use his size to his advantage. While he probably won’t rush the puck up the ice much, he can also contribute offensively with solid passes and a hard shot from the point. He may have to improve his skating a little more to play at the NHL level, but he’s improved dramatically every year and could develop even more at Notre Dame.

Cole was ranked 81st in NHL Central Scouting’s final rankings, though that didn’t take into account his performance at the World Championships. He moved up from 118th in the mid-term rankings. Cole could go much higher though. Red Line Report’s Kyle Woodlief went so far as to put him at 9th in his draft rankings. It’s unlikely that he will go that high, but I could see Cole being drafted as high as the second round. The most likely scenario would be that he will be drafted in the 3rd or 4th round.

Cole will likely play at least 2 or 3 years at Notre Dame before an NHL team even thinks about signing him. The Irish have big expectations for Cole, and he should develop into one of their top defenseman.

Biggest strength: Work ethic
Needs to Improve: Skating ability

NTDP Coach Ron Rolson said: “Ian’s a big, strong kid who plays with a physical presence. He’s solid defensively and keeps the game simple. Ian has a great work ethic and is able to dominate opponents physically.”

Notre Dame coach Jeff Jackson said: "Ian is a solid defenseman who has good vision on the ice and will give us a great presence because of the way he plays the game. He's a big, gritty kid who is strong in the corners and in front of the net. He's a solid two-way defenseman who puts an emphasis on the physical aspect of the game. He will be a top collegiate defenseman for us in the years to come."

Further Reading:

"Cole Mining" from Paul Shaheen's Research on Ice June 22, 2005.

NTDP Feature November 4, 2005

NTDP Feature March 30, 2007