ANAHEIM, CALIF. – He had been traded before, but this was the first time Ian Cole had switched teams during a road trip. The defenseman also never had been swapped during a pandemic until Tuesday, when the Wild picked him up in a deal that sent fellow blueliner Greg Pateryn to Colorado.
"Checking all the boxes," Cole said Wednesday while wearing Wild gear during a video chat after a skate with his new teammates at Honda Center.
Cole made his debut for the Wild against the Ducks on Wednesday night to complete a seamless transition after unique circumstances helped execute the trade.
"I was pretty fortunate," Cole said.
Not only was Cole already in California, with the Avalanche in Los Angeles to face the Kings, but he was able to take a car service approved by the NHL to report to the Wild in Anaheim — transportation that didn't break NHL coronavirus protocols.
As a result, Cole didn't have to quarantine upon arrival and was able to immediately get into the lineup, where he joined Carson Soucy on the third pairing. Although both are left shots, Cole played on his natural side and Soucy moved to the right.
"That'd be a tough situation to get traded to a team and then have to quarantine for a week and not see anybody and not work out and not do anything," said Cole, who wears No. 28.
The Wild will be in Colorado to take on the Avalanche the first week of February, and that's when Cole will pack up some of his belongings for Minnesota.
"Until then," he said, "just make do and hopefully find a good dry cleaners."
Tidying up the Wild's zone will be Cole's objective on the ice as a stay-at-home defender who takes pride in killing penalties and is an avid shot blocker.
"Just try to end plays as quick as we can and get pucks to the forwards with speed as quick as we can," said Cole, who had four goals and 22 assists last season while blocking 122 shots. "I think every team in the NHL wants to play fast. … That's how I love to play."
Wild General Manager Bill Guerin is familiar with Cole from their days in Pittsburgh, where the two won back-to-back Stanley Cups in 2016 and 2017, with Cole on the ice and Guerin in management. And the experience Cole provides from those championship runs was one of the reasons why he was appealing to the Wild.
"He's very selfless," said center Nick Bonino, who was a teammate of Cole's on those Penguins teams. "He'll throw himself in front of pucks. He moves the puck well. He finds the right exits in [the] D zone. He gets the puck to the net. So, on and off the ice, he's a great guy and I'm happy to have him."
Cole's addition wasn't the only change to the Wild's lineup.
Goalie Kaapo Kahkonen earned the nod in net, his first start of the season after No. 1 Cam Talbot took the first three games.
Kahkonen was expected to carry the load in the minors this season with Iowa but after an upper-body injury to Alex Stalock, Kahkonen moved up the depth chart and landed the backup gig behind Talbot.
In five NHL games last season, Kahkonen went 3-1-1, including 3-0-1 in his first four starts to become the second goalie in Wild history to begin his career with four-game point streak.
"His work ethic is absolutely incredible," coach Dean Evason said of Kahkonen, who was the American Hockey League's outstanding goalie last season. "Clearly, he had a great year last year. His compete level is real high, and we're looking for the same qualities that Cam provides us — [a] calming influence on the group."
Season opener set
Iowa's season opener will be Feb. 5 at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines vs. Texas, and the team is allowing a limited number of fans to attend home games this season.