That is what Montreal Canadiens fans are wondering after signing unrestricted free agent Erik Cole to a four-year deal worth $4.5 million a season back on July 1st.
As a member of the Carolina Hurricanes this past season, the 33-year-old forward had 26 goals and 26 assists for 52 points in an injury-free season. He showed flashes of his former-self from the 2005-06 season, when he scored 30 goals, and showed that he could still produce somewhat consistently.
With that said, past history has shown that Cole has not been the most consistent player in the NHL or the most consistent player with another NHL franchise. For example, in the 2008-09 season, Cole played in 63 games with the Edmonton Oilers and had just 27 points, the only NHL experience he has had outside of Carolina.
Cole also has a history of injuries. On March 4, 2006, Cole suffered a fractured vertebra in his neck and missed several months before returning in the Stanley Cup Final against the Oilers. In the 2009-10 season, Cole played in just 40 games due to a leg fracture.
It will be interesting to see how Cole fits in. Though the Canadiens needed an additional top-six forward after finishing 22nd in the league in goal-scoring last season, many believe they overpaid for Cole's services. At 33 years of age and with a somewhat banged-up body, how much does Cole have left in the tank? How many points can he put up in a hockey-centric city that will get on you if you do not produce?
These are questions that Cole and the rest of the Canadiens will have to face come October.
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