AT RANDOM: WHAT ABOUT ANDREW?

Robin Brownlee
December 28 2010 04:10PM

OTTAWA, ON - NOVEMBER 29: Andrew Cogliano  of the Edmonton Oilers celebrates his game winning goal against the Ottawa Senators in a game at Scotiabank Place on November 29, 2010 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. The Edmonton Oilers defeated the Ottawa Senators 4-1. (Photo by Phillip MacCallum/Getty Images)

I don't know if Andrew Cogliano is ever going to play his way back into the long-term plans of the Edmonton Oilers, but I can't help but think his best chance to do it will come in the next month.

That window of opportunity swings open tonight against the Buffalo Sabres, when he'll line up between Dustin Penner and Ales Hemsky on coach Tom Renney's second line. It'll stay open as long as Renney leaves him there, or until Shawn Horcoff returns from the sprained knee that has him on the shelf.

Having come off the rails after his second season -- about the time GM Steve Tambellini tried to trade him to Ottawa with Penner and Ladislav Smid for Dany F*cking Heatley -- Cogliano's got a long way to go. He's been written off by many as a spare part, a skate-fast-accomplish-little player who has failed to carve out a niche with this team.

That's difficult to argue on the face of it, given a horrid 2009-10 season in which he scored just 10-18-28 after back-to-back seasons of 18 goals and a less-than exemplary start to this season.

Can he change that perception in a month?

AGAINST THE ODDS

Cogliano, still only 23, paid dearly for his lousy 2009-10 campaign, settling for a one-year contract worth $1 million, the market price for a smallish, speedy centre who is mediocre, at best, on the dot.

Sam Gagner, who broke in alongside Cogliano in 2007-08 and still lives with him, re-upped for two years at $2.275 per season after a 41-point season. Even a math challenged guy like me can figure out last season cost Cogliano a pretty penny.

Money aside, Cogliano lost his place in the team's pecking order along the way and he's been trying to regain it since. With just 3-6-9 in 34 games this season, including two assists to show for his last 10 games, he's been, outside Gilbert Brule, Renney's biggest bust this season.

It's tough to watch because Cogliano is working his backside off to turn things around. Like Taylor Hall or Jordan Eberle, Cogliano is a genuinely decent young man. While that matters little to fans paying good money for results, it's nonetheless true. Of course, a lot of "nice guys" have come and gone in this town because they didn't get the job done. That's the business.

I think Cogliano can be a viable part of this team as a third-line centre and penalty killer. That said, if Cogliano can't prove it, if he can't regain confidence and turn the corner playing between Penner and Hemsky until Horcoff returns, then maybe I'm wrong. Won't be the first time.

WHILE I'M AT IT

-- I've been critical of Penner on a number of fronts in the past, but I've liked his game a lot since Hemsky and Horcoff were injured. I asked back then if somebody might emerge to pick up the slack and Penner, at least most nights, has been that guy.

Points aside -- he scored 2-3-5 while Hemsky was out -- I've seen Penner more consistently engaged and involved over the past month. That's all I want from the big man because the numbers are sure to follow.

-- No surprise that Jeff Petry will be paired with Ryan Whitney for his NHL debut tonight. Whitney has been The Fixer for all that ails the blueline this season and he's the right guy to caddie for Petry. Like I told you here earlier this month, Whitney thinks a lot of the kid.

-- Where would the Oilers be without Whitney? Here's hoping fans don't have to find out. Whitney was moving gingerly at the morning skate today and appeared to be favouring his right foot. Might it be as simple as him breaking in a new pair of skates? I don't know, but I'll be asking.

-- The Oilers power play is ranked 23rd at 16.1 per cent on the season. In the 10 games Hemsky just missed, the power play clicked along rather nicely with six goals on 31 attempts. Somebody 'splain.

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.

Aceb4a1816f5fa09879a023b07d1a9b4
A sports writer since 1983, including stints at The Edmonton Journal and The Sun 1989-2007, I happily co-host the Jason Gregor Show on TSN 1260 twice a week and write when so inclined. Have the best damn lawn on the internet. Most important, I am Sam's dad. Follow me on Twitter at Robin_Brownlee. Or don't.
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#51 madjam
December 29 2010, 12:47PM
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Quicksilver ballet wrote:

Interesting thought, he definately would have plenty of established relationships with other GM's which may be helpful, just not sure Daryl would be willing to make that transition of being a voice at the table, rather than being thee voice during discussions.

He won't be out of work long, someone will help him out and access those relationships he has in the game. The Oilers did help out Doug Risebrough a number of years ago to help him along, so who knows. Have to think he'll sit tight and perhaps wait a year or two before taking on a support role with another club.

Posed much the same question on Flames nation with Lowe and Tams moving to Flames . Surprisingly , first blog back they liked Tams , but wanted to avoid Lowe . They are not sold on Feaster obviously .

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#52 D-Man
December 29 2010, 12:51PM
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Ryan2 wrote:

Yes, it is a what if scenario, but there was a bit of buzz last year (or the year before?) about Malkin possibly being made available to address the winger issue so you never know if the Pens were putting out feelers. Where there is smoke there is sometimes fire................

Plus, he has a fairly hefty cap hit and it is tough to manouver as a GM when you have two players eating up almost $17 million of the cap. Crosby will likely demand a higher salary in a couple of years when his contract is up so Malkin might need to be moved if they want to build a perennial contender. Basically, Malkin = Penner and Hemsky from a cap perspective. IF the Pens are sold on Staal being a potential #2 pivot, I would not be surprised to see them trade Malkin for some wingers that can play with Crosby. In that case, the Oilers might be a partner since the organization has depth on the wings AND most importantly decent cap space. Mind you, the Pens have a lot of salary coming off the books over the next two seasons so they might be able to address their winger needs with UFAs and RFAs (why not make a play for a top young winger and give up the 1st rounders if you are not going to need them for the next 5 years?).

If I'm dealing Malkin - I'm looking at an organization that has a bit more depth than we do... Don't get me wrong - Hall, Eberle and MPS are all solid players but they aren't at Malkin's level - yet (I think Hall will be in another year, with Eberle not far behind)... Penner (as good as he's been these last 10 games) isn't a proven commodity in the effort department and Hemsky is more the playmaker type than a goal scorer...

For someone at Malkin's level - you're looking at bonafide 40 to 45 goal scorer to play along side Crosby now... Or you're looking for something along the lines of what Toronto did (as dumb as that was) for Kessel... I have to take back a previous statement I made... A Hemsky, MPS and a 2nd round pick might be fair from our standpoint - I just can't see how that even realistically helps the Penguins...

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#53 TigerUnderGlass
December 29 2010, 12:56PM
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madjam wrote:

FOOD FOR THOUGHT - Sutter moves to Oilers ? How effective would he be here on our rebuilding process ? He builds toughness and from the backend out . Might be a good fit considering what we need ?

Brilliant...because whenever I look at the Calgary Flames my first thought is "if only we could get the man responsible for this disaster to run the Oilers."

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#54 Ender
December 29 2010, 01:27PM
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@TigerUnderGlass

While I'm usually wary of your acerbic wit, having been on the receiving end before, in this case I think your comment is dead-bang on.

Gads, madjam; how many years worth of top-5 picks do you seriously think we need?

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#55 Team Couturier
December 29 2010, 04:06PM
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Now, I love the tough Calgary defense. I have hated playing against it for years, and I would love a Sutter as a defense coach. But not GM, no more ex-players as GM, bad idea. Career GM's only, please.

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