It seems like the Edmonton Oilers roster can be split into three general categories: the new young (such as Taylor Hall), the old young (such as Sam Gagner) and … the old and broken (Nikolai Khabibulin). The team signed one of their “old young” today, as they inked speedy center Andrew Cogliano to a one-year, $1 million contract (terms according to Nick Kypreos).
This brings the Oilers overall payroll to about $54.4 million although the team will need to get rid of one lower level player to get to the maximum allowed 23 players (their current CapGeek.com number is based on 24 players).
Cogliano’s mainly known for his skating abilities since he hasn’t exactly taken the league by storm at this point. His productivity actually keeps declining in his last three seasons as he went from 45 to 38 to 28 points.
So what’s wrong with Cogliano? In my opinion, it’s mostly the situation. He can’t win a faceoff but has played center his entire career. He’s small on a team committed to getting bigger. He hasn’t proven that he’s got the defensive chops to take on a lot of responsibility in the defensive zone or against good players. He belongs on the wing, but with Ales Hemsky, Dustin Penner, Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson, Jordan Eberle, and Taylor Hall all in the fold, things are already looking crowded. Especially if he needs some sheltering. Add in Gilbert Brule, Sam Gagner, and Shawn Horcoff, and there’s only one top nine spot left. With so much youth in the lineup, the Oilers need that player to be capable all over the ice. Derek recently talked about what Steve Tambellini has left to do this summer and one of his suggestions was for the Oilers to sign a tough minutes forward. If that happens, someone else gets pushed out. If Linus Omark makes the team, it’s the same thing. If it’s both, two players need to be moved to make room. Maybe that’s Eberle going to Oklahoma, Hall going to Windsor or Paajarvi going to Timra, but maybe it’s Andrew Cogliano going to the fourth line or the press-box. Judging from Steve Tambellini’s desire to rid himself of the guy, I suspect he sees Cogliano as one of the odd men out.
Ouch. Now, the Oilers aren’t spending much on Cogliano so maybe his considerable (but limited) skills will show through.
Edmonton could improve nicely next season with the continued growth of a few veterans (Dustin Penner, Tom Gilbert), the addition of young players (Hall, maybe Jordan Eberle or Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson) and hopefully healthier season for two important individuals (Ales Hemsky and Khabibulin). I don’t think that will be enough to make them a playoff team, but they could be a bit more respectable next season.
Which means this might be a do-or-die campaign for Cogliano.