ANAHEIM, Calif. – Ian Cole's history with Bill Guerin in Pittsburgh enticed the Wild general manager to trade for the defenseman, but so did Cole's proximity to Anaheim.
That's where the Wild is finishing up a four-game road trip and since Cole was in nearby Los Angeles with Colorado to take on the Kings, the Wild quickly worked out a deal Tuesday to acquire Cole from the Avalanche in exchange for defenseman Greg Pateryn.
Cole is expected to make his debut on Wednesday against the Ducks.
"Adding another guy that's won Stanley Cups is never a bad thing," Guerin said during a Zoom interview. "Ian also has a great confidence, and he's got a swagger about him, and that's something that I like.
"I like the way he carries himself, and I think it's infectious and it rubs off on guys. That's important when you're in this line of work, [that] you have great inner-confidence, and I really believe in that."
A 31-year-old veteran of 11 NHL seasons, Cole lifted the Stanley Cup twice with the Penguins in 2016 and 2017 when Guerin was Pittsburgh's assistant GM.
Not only does Guerin trust Cole's style as a stay-at-home defenseman, but he appreciates a winning pedigree — also acquiring Cole's teammate, center Nick Bonino, from those title runs in the offseason.
"If we have guys that have been there before and have accomplished that, it can only help," Guerin said. "Ian was an integral part of those wins, as was Bonino. They are guys that have great value and have a lot to offer, and I have a ton of respect for that."
Last season, the 6-1, 225-pounder Cole set a career high in assists (22) and tied his career best in points (26) while doling out 83 hits and blocking 122 shots in 65 games. Overall, the first-round pick by St. Louis in 2007 has 26 goals and 112 assists through 543 games with the Blues, Penguins, Blue Jackets and Avalanche.
The former Notre Dame standout is in the final season of a three-year, $12.75 million contract. Colorado is retaining about 20% of Cole's $3 million salary and $4.25 million cap hit this season.
"He certainly has the skill to make good plays and good passes," Guerin said. "He's very aggressive in front of our net. He's a willing and able shot blocker. He's an excellent penalty killer. Those are things that we value."
The Wild expects Cole to jump into the lineup immediately because the team didn't break any league protocols to get Cole to Anaheim, with the NHL signing off on an approved car service for Cole.
He'll fill the hole on the Wild's third pairing created by Pateryn's departure, but which side Cole plays is unclear. Although he and Carson Soucy are left shots, both can handle either flank.
Pateryn started all three games for the Wild this season, chipping in two assists and even getting fined $5,000 on Tuesday for cross checking Anaheim's Sonny Milano in Monday's 1-0 loss to the Ducks. He played only 20 games last season after having sports hernia surgery in October before missing the playoffs with issues that eventually required back surgery.
In 103 games with the Wild over three seasons, Pateryn had one goal and 11 assists. The 30-year-old is in the final season of a three-year, $6.75 million contract.
Going into the season, the defense was positioned as a strength of the Wild's and the back end hasn't been on the hot seat during a 2-1 start. But Guerin is still seeking improvements and will continue to look for ways to help the entire lineup.
"If there's an opportunity to make your team better, it doesn't matter if it's Christmas Day or in the middle of the summer, you're going to talk about it," he said. "You're going to listen to it and if the time's right, then you'll do it."