Pittsburgh Penguins: Top 5 Personnel Decisions Facing the Pens This Summer

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Mar 14, 2015; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Ian Cole (28) skates with the puck against the Boston Bruins during the second period at the CONSOL Energy Center. Boston won 2-0. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

2. Ian Cole

Of all the tumultuous changes that took hold of the Penguins’ blue line this season, one move turned out to be a great one for Pittsburgh – the trade that brought Ian Cole to the Pens from St. Louis, in exchange for Robert Bortuzzo.

Cole stepped up in a big way after the Pens’ blue line was decimated by injuries, logging a career-high in average ice-time (his average in St. Louis hovered around 15 minutes per game, yet Cole played an average of 23 minutes for the Pens during the playoffs).

Moreover, Cole provided the Pens’ blue-line with the steadiness it needed as more and more names dropped off the roster. He showcased his offensive capabilities as well, jumping into plays and emerging as one of the few remaining saviours of the Pens’ transition game.

A former first-round draft pick (18th overall) who, at age 26, seems to be just entering his prime, Cole will be a player the Pens undoubtedly try to retain.

They’ll have options, as Cole will be a restricted free agent, meaning Pittsburgh won’t be forced to outbid other clubs who would certainly pay top dollar.

That being said, they’ll still have to come to an agreeable number, as the young defender is certainly due a raise from his previous $900,000 contract.