Ian Cole is on the cusp of becoming a good fantasy prospect. There's no doubt that the first-round pick from 2007 is a good hockey prospect and will help the St. Louis Blues, but when combing through the prospect ranks for the upcoming Dobber Prospects Guide, I had the option of picking one of their players for the Prospect Guide. I considered Cole, but didn't include him, because in the end, I don't think he will be a good fantasy player.
I will keep an open mind on Cole – you should always keep an open mind and watch how a young player develops – but there are a few reasons why his value is much greater to a real hockey team than a fantasy hockey team.
Cole was already physically mature when he was drafted, and thus he had little room to improve in that regard. He has a tremendous work ethic and while he was with the U.S. National Team Development Program, he put on more than 20 pounds and beefed up to 210 pounds by the time he was drafted.
In a television documentary about the St. Louis Blues at 2007 draft, there was a tell-tale comment from Jarmo Kekalainen, the Blues' assistant GM and director of amateur scouting. The documentary took viewers inside the NHL club's "war room" and chronicled the discussions among the team's brass and scouts.
Kekalainen liked Cole and, in urging GM Larry Pleau and President John Davidson to make a trade to move up to get him, said this: "He's a man and he's got a bomb for a shot."
Cole, who was 18 at the time, was almost fully grown and had little room to improve in terms of adding strength or size. He's added a bit of weight in the three years at Notre Dame, but not a lot and was last listed on the Notre Dame website as 220.
Cole was ranked 81st in Central Scouting's final rankings (completed before the world under-18 championship) and 57th by International Scouting Services. Another independent scouting service, Red Line Report, had Cole ranked ninth and even predicted the Blues would take Cole. Kyle Woodlief, the chief scout for Red Line, called Cole the "steady, sturdy bookend for Barrett Jackman" which, while complimentary, hardly speaks of offensive upside.
The Blues liked Cole and it was largely because of Kekalainen's advice that the Blues traded with Calgary to move up to the No. 18 spot from the 24th to grab Cole, who made huge strides in his draft year. He also played great at the world under-18 championship, but still had doubters about his offensive upside – despite his excellent shot.