2010 NHL Free Agency: Oilers sign speedy center Andrew Cogliano to one-year, $1M deal

andrewcoglianocelebrates.jpgIt 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.

Oilers blog Copper & Blue wrote this about Cogliano while reviewing the franchise’s best players under the age of 25 (he was ranked No. 7).

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.

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    Video: AHL goalie Jonas Gustavsson scores his first career goal

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    He didn’t shoot, but Jonas Gustavsson still scored.

    The former NHL netminder, now with the Bakersfield Condors in the AHL, scored his first career goal Friday, as part of his team’s victory over the San Diego Gulls.

    From the AHL:

    With San Diego goaltender Dustin Tokarski on the bench for an extra attacker and the Gulls working on a power play, Gustavsson made a save before an errant San Diego pass slid down the length of the ice and into the vacated net at 16:56 of the third period.

    Gustavsson is the fifth AHL goaltender to be credited with a goal without actually shooting the puck into the opposition net. In addition to his goal, Gustavsson stopped 30 of 31 shots in the Condors victory.

    Bolts and Islanders both win, which is bad news for Bruins

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    The New York Islanders and Tampa Bay Lightning each had to work overtime to decide their separate games, but when they ended, both clubs were victorious.

    And that makes things even more interesting in the Eastern Conference wild card race.

    With their shootout win in Pittsburgh, the Islanders tie the Bruins in points but take over the final playoff spot for now with fewer games played. The Lightning, despite an abundance of injuries all season, are just a point back of Boston and New York.

    Nikita Kucherov scored the winner for Tampa Bay against the Red Wings. He’s up to 38 goals, which is second most in the league behind Sidney Crosby, currently at 42 goals.

    Sellers leading up to the trade deadline, and without Steven Stamkos since the middle of November, the Lightning are in the thick of this race, even if others may have counted them out.

    “Once again, people counted us out,” defenseman Victor Hedman told the Tampa Bay Times. “But we showed a lot of character. And we’re right back in it.”

    The Bolts don’t play again until Monday, when they host the Chicago Blackhawks — only one of the hottest teams in the league.

    Meanwhile, Saturday’s busy slate of games includes a showdown between the Bruins and Islanders. For Boston, it’s a chance for redemption after a particularly costly third period against Tampa Bay on Thursday.

    What is wrong with the Sharks?

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    Not that long ago, the San Jose Sharks appeared well on their way to winning the Pacific Division title.

    On March 14, they had a seven-point lead on both Anaheim and Calgary. Gone is that advantage. Not only have the Ducks surged back into the fight for the division, but the Sharks have lost five in a row and are having a terrible time of late creating any offense.

    The Ducks defeated the Jets on Friday, moving into a tie with the Sharks at 91 points.

    San Jose’s struggles hit a new low Friday with a 6-1 loss to the Dallas Stars, a team with its own flaws and nowhere close to a playoff position.

    At one point midway through the second period, the Sharks trailed the Stars by four goals and had only six lousy shots on goal. During this skid, San Jose has scored only five goals.

    Earlier this week, members of the Sharks said they weren’t terribly worried about this losing streak. The losses, they had said, were in close games, which is true: San Jose lost three consecutive one-goal games.

    “When I look at the losing streak, we dominated some of those games for long periods and found ways to lose. You never like to lose, but I’m not that concerned,” Sharks coach Pete DeBoer told CSN Bay Area. “We’ve got to obviously end it. We’ve got to get healthy. I don’t see a bunch of symptoms of a team that can’t get this fixed pretty quickly.”

    This, however, was a blowout. Adam Cracknell recorded the hat trick, pushing his single-season career-high in goals to 10.

    The performance at one point forced DeBoer to take a timeout, in which he expressed his displeasure.

    Making matters worse for the Sharks: Defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic left the game early in the third period and was put under further evaluation. He didn’t return.

    The Sharks visit the Nashville Predators on Saturday.

    Halak and the Islanders defeat Penguins, move into wild card spot

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    Quite a hockey game between the New York Islanders and Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday.

    It offered plenty to enjoy — Phil Kessel‘s dominant but unfruitful shift in overtime, a combined 86 shots on goal between both teams, a showcase of skill from the likes of John Tavares and Sidney Crosby, and two strong goaltending performances from Jaroslav Halak and Marc-Andre Fleury.

    Josh Ho-Sang, who wears No. 66, which is just fine in the eyes of Mario Lemieux, set up Brock Nelson‘s goal in the second period.

    The Islanders and their fans probably aren’t hung up on style points at this juncture of the season. They just care about wins and points in the standings, and those are exactly what New York accomplished with a 4-3 shootout win in Pittsburgh.

    Anthony Beauvillier and Tavares scored for the Islanders in the shootout. Halak made 37 stops, including a game-saver in overtime off Matt Cullen. Halak trapped the puck, which was right on the goal line, between his legs on a chance from in front. The play was reviewed but no goal.

    The win gives the Islanders 82 points, which is the same total as the struggling Boston Bruins.

    However, the Islanders, with one game in hand on the Bruins, take over the final wild card spot in the East for now.