Ian Cole is considering signing a contract to remain with the Columbus Blue Jackets prior to becoming an unrestricted free agent on July 1, the 29-year-old defenseman told The Athletic.
"It's a tough question," Cole said. "As a player, you really look forward to this unrestricted free-agency status.
"However, I'm not opposed to signing something before [July 1]. It has to be the right situation and the right factors, but it's not something I'm dead set against. I'm certainly open to a lot of things at this point."
Cole, who won the Stanley Cup with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2016 and 2017, was acquired by the Blue Jackets in a trade with the Ottawa Senators on Feb. 28 for center prospect Nick Moutrey and a third-round pick in the 2020 NHL Draft. Three days earlier, the Senators acquired Cole from the Penguins as part of a trade that sent center Derick Brassard to Pittsburgh.
Cole had 20 points (five goals, 15 assists) in 67 games with the Penguins and Blue Jackets this season, and had three assists in six Stanley Cup Playoff games. Columbus lost to the Washington Capitals in six games in the Eastern Conference First Round.
Video: MTL@CBJ: Cole wires long wrist shot past Lindgren
Cole has 97 points (20 goals, 77 assists) in 405 NHL games during eight seasons with the St. Louis Blues, Penguins and Blue Jackets. He did not appear in a game with the Senators.
Cole played on the second defense pair with David Savard in Columbus. He was also regularly deployed on the top penalty-killing unit.
"My agent has been in contact with the management of the Blue Jackets a couple of times, back and forth," Cole said. "Nothing to comment on as of yet, but I'm sure things will pick up as we get closer to July 1."
He told the website he enjoyed playing and living in Columbus.
"My perception of Columbus … for the most part, we didn't spend much time there," he said. "Fly in, go to dinner somewhere near the hotel … get up the next day, play the game, hear the cannon fire a few times and leave. I didn't really know too much about it.
"But getting to know the city, to experience it … it was really eye-opening. It's a great city, with great people. I didn't know much about it, but I left there very happy with it and very excited about the possibilities down the road."