The Pittsburgh Penguins are reportedly trying to trade 28-year-old defenseman Ian Cole. The Colorado Avalanche just sent two young D-men – Chris Bigras and Andrei Mironov – down to San Antonio, giving them only six healthy defensemen going into Wednesday’s game with Winnipeg.

Coincidence? Maybe. But based on my own reporting, I can say that the Avs have some interest in acquiring Cole, a top-six defender on the last two Stanley Cup-winning Pittsburgh teams. What I don’t know: Just how strong that interest is, and whether the phone lines are burning up between Penguins GM Jim Rutherford and Joe Sakic. But if I had to say one way or the other, based on my reporting, I’d say the interest is mild.

On the surface, Cole would seem not to be a fit with the Avs. Not only is he 28 (roughly three years older than the team average right now), he’ll become an unrestricted free agent after this season. His current cap hit is $2.1 million, and as a UFA and his career accomplishments, he’d probably double that on the open market.

If the Avs were to acquire Cole, they would seemingly want to have an agreement with him on a contract extension. That would cost a lot of money, though, and the Avs have prospect D-men such as Cale Makar and Conor Timmins who could be ready by next season.

The Avs aren’t a good enough team yet to acquire rental players for picks/prospects/regular roster players. The only way this makes sense is if Cole agreed to a long-term extension. But would he really want to do that already, for a team that is still a ways off from being a top Cup contender?

It doesn’t seem likely. I would be surprised, therefore, if a deal happened. Then again, in this business, you should never be surprised.

Cole has been a healthy scratch the last three games, though coach Mike Sullivan has been doing verbal backflips trying to convince reporters that’s no big deal, just part of the process. But the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, citing multiple sources, reported Monday night that the Penguins are actively trying to trade Cole.

About the Bigras and Mironov demotions: It’s a tough blow for Bigras, more so for him than Mironov. It seemed like Bigras had finally proven himself enough to stick with the Avs for good, and he started the season playing well. But Jared Bednar seems to have lost some confidence in his game. Maybe this will only be a temporary demotion, but for now, his career has had a setback.

UPDATE: The Avs just recalled Duncan Siemens from the Rampage. So, now they are back to seven healthy D-men. The Cole rumors? I stand by the report, but like I also said, I’d be surprised if a deal happened.

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Adrian Dater

Adrian Dater is a staff writer with BSNDenver. He started his journalism career way, way back in 1988 as a proofreader with the Concord Monitor as a kid out of college (Keene State College), and has wended its way since with a 25-year stop at The Denver Post, 20 of which were spent as the beat writer of the Colorado Avalanche, from its inception in 1995. Adrian has also worked as a primary hockey writer with Sports Illustrated, The Sporting News, The Hockey News, Versus.com and Bleacher Report. He is the author of seven sports books, including the best-selling “Blood Feud: Colorado Avalanche v. Detroit Red Wings, The Inside Story of Pro Sports’ Nastiest and Best Rivalry of Its Era” and “100 Things Avalanche Fans Should Know and Do Before They Die”, which was published in October, 2016.

  • Jose

    Better to have Siemens eating nachos than Bigras. Let Bigras play in SA and improve his confidence, skills and gain experience than have him sit. I agree. We have a lot of young D–stay away from Cole.

    • Charlie Anderson

      Yup.

    • ricpitch

      good take.

    • bd15

      Hard pass on Cole.

  • ljb4

    I think the key to this move is the Rampage schedule. They have an 8 game home stand between now and the 17th of December. Mironov and Bigras can get some valuable ice time and not have to put up with the AHL travel.