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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    Capitals’ Schmidt hurt by Leafs’ Komarov; Record 18th playoff game to OT

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    Now, players are known to at least try to return to games after injuries, sometimes ultimately demeaning such efforts unsuccessful.

    So, it’s possible that the Washington Capitals should still be concerned about defenseman Nate Schmidt. The solid depth blueliner was helped off the ice after a hit by Leo Komarov of the Toronto Maple Leafs, but the good news is that he was at least able to make his way back for a spin later on in the same third period.

    Does that mean he’ll be OK? We’ll see. The game is entering OT – the 18th of this round, a new NHL record – so a possible Schmidt injury could put Washington at a disadvantage during “free hockey.”

    It makes sense that Toronto and Washington made it a new record, as this is the fifth time in six games that they beyond regulation in this series. Wow.

    Auston Matthews keeps goal streak alive, gives Leafs 1-0 lead in third

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    These are the moments Toronto Maple Leafs fans were dreaming about when they drafted Auston Matthews. At least those bold enough to picture such great things, so soon in his career.

    Speaking of so soon … that’s not how you’d describe a 1-0 goal happening in the third period of a game in this Leafs – Washington Capitals series, but it took that long to break the ice in Game 6.

    It took a very lucky bounce for the puck to find its way to Matthews … but the finish was pure skill. With that, the remarkable rookie now has a goal in four straight games (with an assist thrown in for good measure).

    The lead wouldn’t last long, however, as Marcus Johansson scored to tie it 1-1.

    Things could get awfully nervous for Toronto as they try to force a decisive Game 7 in Washington, but that was a huge goal by Matthews either way.

    Clarke MacArthur, Craig Anderson made Sens win that much more emotional

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    It could have been over for Clarke MacArthur plenty of times during his turbulent NHL career. Scratch that, his turbulent hockey career.

    His team walked away from his salary arbitration award. MacArthur’s seen plenty of people give up on him. And then, when he finally found a home with the Ottawa Senators, concussion issues threatened to end his playing days.

    Yet, there he was on Sunday … drawing a penalty in overtime and then scoring on the ensuing power play to help the Senators advance beyond the Boston Bruins.

    He didn’t deny that he imagined very different possibilities during his darker moments.

    And, as uplifting as his story was – seriously, just watch this interview and try not to root for the guy – it wasn’t the only emotionally charged moment from Game 6.

    Nicholle Anderson was on hand to cheer on Craig Anderson in this one, and the two were able to embrace after the contest:

    As violent and intense as the playoffs can often be, MacArthur and Anderson reminded us of the gentler human side of it all.

    Erik Karlsson played through hairline fractures in foot to help Sens advance

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    Remember when many were keeping an eye on Erik Karlsson after he was seemingly cramping up after logging more than 40 minutes in an OT contest against the Boston Bruins?

    It’s possible he was also dealing with that sort of ailment, but he earned some “hockey tough” kudos on Sunday after word surfaced that the Ottawa Senators defenseman was dealing with hairline fractures in his left heel through the series.

    Sportsnet’s Jason York refers to the issue as “two small fractures” while ESPN’s Joe McDonald went into specifics, noting that Karlsson explains that the injury happened on March 28 (and was why he missed some games late in the season).

    There’s some optimism as the Senators ready for the New York Rangers, at least according to Karlsson.

    Hmm.

    Either way, that’s impressive stuff from the Senators defenseman, and the sort of information that usually only surfaces after a team has been eliminated. We’ll see if he’s hindered by such issues as the playoffs go along.