It's a big change, going from Carolina to Edmonton, but it's one that Erik Cole is thrilled to be making.
There's nothing like playing in a hockey market, especially when that hockey market is preparing for a revival. And the way Cole sees it, Edmonton is both.
"I'm excited to be a part of things here," said the 29-year-old winger, eagerly anticipating his first season with in Edmonton. "I'm looking forward to the fact that hockey is front and centre every day. It's everywhere you go."
Carolina is a decent market when the Canes are winning, but it's not the same as playing hockey in a Canadian city - something every NHLer should experience once. It's a lot of pressure, but it can be a lot of fun, too.
"I think that's a good thing," Cole said of the scrutiny. "It helps you stay focused, no detail goes unnoticed."
And the way Cole sees it, the Oilers are ready to get noticed in a big way. He liked the direction Edmonton was headed when he found out he'd been traded here in the summertime swap for Joni Pitkanen, and nothing he's seen since his arrival has dampened that enthusiasm.
"The way the team finished last year, there's reason for all the optimism," he said, adding he's totally impressed with the depth of skill on Edmonton's top three lines.
"You need to have at least three lines that can score goals and put up numbers, and that's what we have here - nine forwards who can all play well, compete and interchange any which way.
"That's what's going to work out best for this team, there's certainlly no shortage of skilled player here. Hopefully the young guys can continue on the paths that they started on and if we continue to have the good veteran leadership it should make for a good combination."
Cole, in the final year of a $4 million contract, is now fully recovered from the neck injury that almost ended his career three seasons ago (Oilers fans will remember the courage and determination he showed when he came back for Games 6 and 7 of the Stanley Cup final to help Carolina beat Edmonton).
"I'm excited, I feel really good about this season,"he said. "I feel strong. The neck since last December has been fantastic."
He's ready to be one of the final pieces in a rebuilding effort that gets Edmonton back in the playoffs.
"It's been great coming to the rink and trying to fit in and be part of things," said the six-foot-two, 205-pounder.
"I'd like to make as seamless a transition as possible."
JULY 1, 2008
EDMONTON OILERS GET ... W Erik Cole.
CAROLINA HURRICANES GET ... D Joni Pitkanen.