Another Approach To Projecting Andrew Cogliano

Jonathan Willis
April 29 2009 07:19PM


I read an article on Irreverent Oiler Fans the other day that started me wondering on the offensive potential of Andrew Cogliano. That post worked backwards; looking at NHL impact players and identifying what percentage of them had similar seasons at the same age. What I’m about to do is the opposite; I’ll look at players who had similar offensive seasons to Andrew Cogliano and attempt to establish what range of offense he’s likely to produce as an NHL’er.

To do this, I’m going to use the “power play” function at Hockey Reference, which allows searches based on certain criteria. Let’s take a quick look at Cogliano’s season before we decide on our criteria.

Cogliano: 82GP – 18G – 20A – 38PTS, -6 (.46 PTS/GM)

I’ve decided to do a search of seasons by 21-year olds with the following requirements:

  • Must have occurred within the past ten years
  • Must have recorded between .37 and .55 PTS/GM (20% variance in either direction)
  • Must have appeared in a minimum of 50 games
  • Must have been the player’s second NHL season

I got back a field of sixteen possible seasons (including Cogliano). Three of those occurred this season – Martin Hanzal and Sergei Kostitsyn, so those were eliminated. I also eliminated Milan Michalek, Brandon Dubinsky and David Krejci, since their first NHL seasons consisted of less than ten games. Here’s the remaining field:

  • Corey Perry: 0.54 PTS/GM (2007)
  • Mike Richards: 0.54 PTS/GM (2007)
  • Steve Bernier: 0.50 PTS/GM (2007)
  • Maxim Afinogenov: 0.46 PTS/GM (2001)
  • Radim Vrbata: 0.46 PTS/GM (2003)
  • Henrik Sedin: 0.44 PTS/GM (2002)
  • Daniel Sedin: 0.41 PTS/GM (2002)
  • Rostislav Olesz: 0.40 PTS/GM (2007)
  • Josef Vasicek: 0.40 PTS/GM (2002)

That gives us nine possible comparables. We should also look at how those players performed in their first and third seasons. The first season is to compare to Cogliano’s for closeness, and the third to show the range of production we should expect from Cogliano next year. First, here’s Cogliano’s rookie year:

Cogliano: 82GP – 18G – 27A – 45PTS, +1 (.55 PTS/GM)

Here’s how the list stacks up:

  • Name | First Season | Third Season |
  • Mike Richards | .43 PTS/GM | 1.03 PTS/GM
  • Corey Perry | .45 PTS/GM | .77 PTS/GM
  • Josef Vasicek | .40 PTS/GM | .55 PTS/GM
  • Henrik Sedin | .35 PTS/GM | .50 PTS/GM
  • Maxim Afinogenov | .52 PTS/GM | .49 PTS/GM
  • Rostislav Olesz | .36 PTS/GM | .46 PTS/GM
  • Steve Bernier | .69 PTS/GM | .42 PTS/GM
  • Daniel Sedin | .45 PTS/GM | .39 PTS/GM
  • Radim Vrbata | .58 PTS/GM | .31 PTS/GM

Two players took massive steps forward in their third season (Richards, Perry) while one took a massive step back (Vrbata). That direction has so far shown which way their careers have gone – the players taking big steps forward are now legitimate first-liners, while Vrbata has had one good season since but is not currently playing in the NHL. The other six fluctuated slightly up or down. Of that group of six, three (Vasicek, Olesz, Bernier) are either complementary players or look to be heading in that direction, while the other three (Sedin, Afinogenov, Sedin) have been or are first-line players.

One thing that I find particularly surprising is the way this group clusters – a player is either at one end of it or the other. So what does this mean for Andrew Cogliano? I’d suggest that while we can’t draw many definite conclusions, there is one in particular that is important: Cogliano’s performance to date does not preclude him from becoming an offensive difference maker.

While I have repeatedly suggested that Andrew Cogliano may be useful trade bait given that he is a quality player with attributes (small size, youth, offensive ability) the Oilers have in plenty, this list makes me a little more hesitant to trade him. I’ve been projecting Cogliano all along as topping out as a second-tier offensive talent, and the fact that multiple players (better than half the sample: Richards, Perry, Sedin, Sedin, Afinogenov) went on to have a high-end offensive game makes me reconsider that projection. It may very well be that Andrew Cogliano has greater offensive talent than he’s been given credit for to date.

Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, Sportsnet and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including the Edmonton Journal, Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
#101 Chris
April 30 2009, 02:57PM
Trash it!

Archaeologuy wrote:

I think realistically he can score at least 25 goals in a second line role next year, assuming he gets the PP time.

I think you're expecting too much. To play on the second line Cogliano would most likely have to adapt to playing back on the wing. That would probably have a negative effect on his totals. Even if he could play second line center; to score 25 goals Coglino would have to: a)Maintain his current shooting percentage. b)Increase his shot total by 70% with only a few extra minutes of ice time a night.

#102 Archaeologuy
April 30 2009, 03:09PM
Trash it!

160 shots is all he needs to score 25, based on this year's Shooting %, which is only an increase of 40% not 70%.

I think you're underestimating the difference quality of teammates and ice time makes.

However, I will admit that switching from Centre to Wing might be his biggest hurdle next season.

#103 Chris
April 30 2009, 04:57PM
Trash it!

Archaeologuy wrote:

I think you’re underestimating the difference quality of teammates and ice time makes.

My math was wrong regarding the 70%. I do agree Cogliano needs at LEAST 160 shots to score 25 goals. To go from 98 shots, to 116 shots, to 160 shots seems like a dramatic increase. Also having higher quality linemates, means Cogliano would skate against higher quality opposition... Don't underestimate the difference THAT makes.


#104 Ogden Brother
April 30 2009, 08:24PM
Trash it!

A few random players:

Zajac shots/game went

1.7 1.9 2.3


3 3.3 4.5

M Koivu

2 2.5 3

M Richards

2.2 2.9 3


1.9 2.5 2.6

Over the last 3 years.

It seems pretty clear that as guys roles expand, theirs a pretty good chance that they will take more shots.... sure some probably don't, but to place that, of all things, as the big hurdle to his success??

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