The Cogs Decision

Lowetide
May 23 2011 08:31AM

The first time I saw Andrew Cogliano play hockey, it looked |(to me) like the Oilers had another Butch Goring type on their hands. A Ralph Backstrom, Davey Keon type: undersized speed demon who could forecheck you to death, had a motor with one gear (overdrive) and enough offense to be considered a legit top 9 forward. A number of coaches and 4 years later, he may have arrived. Is it too late? 

To say that Tom Renney found something in Andrew Cogliano is an understatement. It's all over #13's stats. Consider for a moment his career PK time on ice per game by coach:

  • 07-08: 48 seconds under MacT
  • 08-09: 35 seconds under MacT
  • 09-10: 44 seconds under Quinn
  • 10-11: 2 minutes and 43 seconds under Renney

Now, it isn't all about coach Renney. Craig MacTavish used Cogliano more than most rookies back in 2007, so he probably recognized that the kids' footspeed would be a major PK asset if developed properly.

Let's take a closer look, shall we? 

According to Gabrield Desjardins behind the net dot ca, Cogliano's 4x5 numbers look like this:

  • Led Oiler centermen in TOI
  • Led Oiler centermen in CorsiRel by a wide margin
  • Toughest zone start among Oiler centermen

Cogliano has some things that make him less than ideal for the role of #1 PK center. He lost 126 of 220 own-zone faceoffs at 4x5 (Jordan Eberle was the only Oiler center to break even, 50/50 in 48 sorties).

Along with that information comes the anecdotal evidence that Renney sees something in this player. In late January, coach Renney gushed about his speedy center:

  • "I'm really happy with his game, I'm really happy with his growth as a two-way player. For the most part over the last four or five games they've gone out against the other team's best line. That's not easy to go out and put up points. "I'm really happy for Andrew and the growth of his game. What you're seeing now, because he has a foundation of what to do off the puck and with it in transition, is points starting to come."

This quote (and others from February through the end of the season) are very important indicators. When the Edmonton Oilers are sitting in a room discussing 2011-12, Andrew Cogliano has an inside champion in coach Renney. What it means is this: Steve Tambellini's list of trade assets is likely to include an incumbent center. The position needs help badly and is unlikely to be vastly improved next season (especially in the faceoff circle) if the club keeps Andrew Cogliano and Sam Gagner.

Here are some numbers to compare last year's group:

5x5 points-per 60

  1. Sam Gagner 1.91
  2. Shawn Horcoff 1.47
  3. Andrew Cogliano 1.33
  4. Gilbert Brule 0.96
  5. Colin Fraser 0.48

Gagner's number is the only quality total in the group, ranking him inside the league's top 40 totals overall for centermen. This despite playing for an addled offensvie team.

5x5 Qual Comp

  1. Shawn Horcoff 0.57
  2. Gilbert Brule 0.23
  3. Andrew Cogliano 0.22
  4. Sam Gagner -0.13
  5. Colin Fraser -0.86

Renney ran Horcoff against the toughs as much as he could, but it looks like Andrew Cogliano was part of the secondary solution. There have been discussions about the accuracy of this year's Qual Comp numbers, but they are the best available and by eye Fraser wasn't being pushed into that role and Gagner's line was the more offensive (implying that the coach would be trying to get 89's line a favorable matchup). Either way, it represents an increase in difficulty for Cogliano and a good sign for his future.

What does it mean?

After watching Andew Cogliano these four seasons, I think most of us would be open to the idea of dealing him for a more effective 2-way player. The fact that Tom Renney is the head coach and likes what Cogliano brings means that the Edmonton Oilers are likely to look elsewhere to upgrade the position.

Since Sam Gagner has shown solid offensive ability and Shawn Horcoff's contract and skill set mean he's here for the duration, it makes sense that Colin Fraser and Gilbert Brule are probably on the outside looking in. The Oilers can add a quality center who can help on the faceoffs and special teams, and perhaps share EV minutes in the group. Andrew Cogliano may have played well enough to force the issue and change the off-season plans.

The most likely trade assets this year are the 19th overall pick (in order to trade up), defensemen Ladislav Smid, Taylor Chorney and Tom Gilbert; Ales Hemsky, Gilbert Brule and Colin Fraser. At this point, I don't think Andrew Cogliano or Sam Gagner is on the list. 

And that my friends, is a surprise.  

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Lowetide has been one of the Oilogosphere's shining lights for over a century. You can check him out here at OilersNation and at lowetide.ca. He is also the host of Lowdown with Lowetide weekday mornings 10-noon on TSN 1260.
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#1 dawgtoy
May 23 2011, 08:34AM
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First

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#2 shanetrain
May 23 2011, 09:02AM
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Cogs looked great flying around the ice on the PK. Same ole same ole .. great wheels but man when he hits the O blue line .. poof! Bad decisions and some embarrasing execution.

I would pay and keep him for 1M per as opposed to R. Jones anyday though for some reason.

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#3 Woodguy
May 23 2011, 09:04AM
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While I'm a Gagner fan and his 5v5 pts/60 number is good, what's most troubling about him and Cogliano is what they give up.

5v5 +/- per 60

Horcoff -0.18

Fraser -0.48

Brule -0.84

Gagner -1.08

Cogliano -1.05

As MacT (and many other coaches) always say, "it's what you create minus what you give up"

Cogliano will be 24 and Gagner will be 22 next camp. Both will be starting their 5th full NHL season (a little ridiculous to say that about someone 22 years old)

Cogliano is at an age where he has to have worth or move on. Gagner has a little bit more rope given his age.

I wouldn't doubt that either is in play if the return is good.

Gagner's +/- per 60 is particularly damning since he's getting decent help and playing the lesser lights of the other teams. He's playing on a bad team, but he has to be better. He needs a real breakout year this year in terms of getting better at his defensive zone coverage.

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#4 DangerMan
May 23 2011, 09:09AM
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The Oilers really do have to do something with those centers. Rolling out Horcoff, Gagner and Cogliano again is like slow suicide. There isn't enough offense and there isn't enough defense. Someone has to go in order to improve in one or hopefully both of those areas. Horcoff brings enough defense, Gagner brings enough offense for a 2nd liner, Cogliano isn't quite passable at either yet. Time to make a decision.

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#5 @Oilanderp
May 23 2011, 09:15AM
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@dawgtoy

Extremely poor form sir. Not only did your message have no appreciable content thereby losing all 5/5 style points, but the one word you did use was completely mispelled in this context. My god man show some pride! I sentence you to 15 raps on the knuckles with a wooden ruler.

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#6 Archaeologuy
May 23 2011, 09:16AM
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I think that if RNH is drafted the porential depth chart (from the Oilers' perspective, not mine) will be 1) Horc 2) Gagner 3) RNH 4) Cogliano. I cant see Fraser beating out any of those 4 for a spot unless RNH is sent back to the WHL. Even then, CF still has to beat Brule.

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#7 Woodguy
May 23 2011, 09:21AM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

I think that if RNH is drafted the porential depth chart (from the Oilers' perspective, not mine) will be 1) Horc 2) Gagner 3) RNH 4) Cogliano. I cant see Fraser beating out any of those 4 for a spot unless RNH is sent back to the WHL. Even then, CF still has to beat Brule.

Don't forget that Anton Lander is coming over to North America in the fall.

He's penciled in as the Oiler 3C for the next 10 years.

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#8 madjam
May 23 2011, 09:27AM
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For whatever reasons Tams feels we are ready to be competitive this season even without draft help this season . I think thats folly on his part , but he's running the show for now . Cogs small progression and speed make it tough to let him go just yet .

We have a lot of depth that is fast but diminutive , but too much lack of size and toughness to be a major player in our own division . All our diminutive forwards have NHL potential to still grow and be even more viable here or elsewhere , but collectively we have to many of that type, that underscores our team progression as well as players .

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#9 doritogrande
May 23 2011, 09:29AM
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He's developed the ability to PK this year, and that's great. But he can still do that while playing the wing...

I don't see a logjam at C when two of our top young players (89 and 13) haven't established their position yet. If a better option comes along and they get bumped to the wing, so be it. It never hurts to have a couple converted centers on the ice in a defensive situation.

The best thing about the re-development of Cogliano's game is he's becoming a more versatile player. He may never be an out-scorer but maybe he's got the smarts to play with Horcoff-Hemsky and not drag the line down a'la JFJ.

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#10 Dutchscooter
May 23 2011, 09:41AM
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I don't have a problem keeping Cogs; he's the one guy of a few on the team last season who showed up every game. I just want more than just Shawn 'Hurt Again' Horcoff able to win more than 50% of faceoffs. Maybe move one of the smurfs to wing?

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#11 Woodguy
May 23 2011, 09:45AM
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doritogrande wrote:

He's developed the ability to PK this year, and that's great. But he can still do that while playing the wing...

I don't see a logjam at C when two of our top young players (89 and 13) haven't established their position yet. If a better option comes along and they get bumped to the wing, so be it. It never hurts to have a couple converted centers on the ice in a defensive situation.

The best thing about the re-development of Cogliano's game is he's becoming a more versatile player. He may never be an out-scorer but maybe he's got the smarts to play with Horcoff-Hemsky and not drag the line down a'la JFJ.

I agree that long term Gagner as 2RW and Cogliano as 3LW are more probable given their skill sets rather and 2C and 3C.

If they don't re-sign Hemsky then they have to keep Gagner for sure.

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#12 Mrs. Potato Dick
May 23 2011, 09:47AM
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Yes please keep Cogliano. Get rid of Fraser and maybe Brule. Cogs looked like a backchecking demon late in the season. I'd like to see him next year. If only we could win a few on the dot.

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#13 Archaeologuy
May 23 2011, 10:16AM
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@Woodguy

I completely agree with you about their probable conversion to wingers, especially if Lander steps in one day and proves to be a valuable player. With Hemsky's Oiler future so up in the air it is hard to project too far into the future as far as the right side of the ice is concerned. That said, I would take Gagner at RW well ahead of Omark and several others that would be gunning for the spot.

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#14 freeze
May 23 2011, 10:17AM
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I like Cogs. He is tough, rarely misses a game and could be a good forechecker/PK specialist. I just wish he could win a bloody face-off.

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#15 Ducey
May 23 2011, 10:29AM
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Rel Corsi for C's

Gagner 7.0 Horcoff 7.0 Cogs 2.3 Brule -4.1 Fraser -9.6

Gagner is not the problem. I'd like to see Cogs on the wing on the 3rd line to make up for his faceoff problems.

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#16 Tron105
May 23 2011, 10:32AM
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Would moving Gagner and/or Cogliano to the wing be a possibility?

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#17 Chris.
May 23 2011, 10:32AM
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I have trouble imagining Cogs as a key contributer on a Championship team. High end PK'ing centermen win draws and can outmuscle elite forwards.

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#18 Bicepus Maximus - Huge fan boy!
May 23 2011, 10:36AM
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dawgtoy wrote:

First

It's spelled FIST!

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#19 Archaeologuy
May 23 2011, 10:37AM
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@Chris.

What if he played the wing?

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#20 slopitch
May 23 2011, 10:38AM
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On one hand I hate the Oilers having Horcoff, Gags and Cogs down the middle. Too small and not gonna have the puck enough off the draw. That being said, I think Lander will get 40 games in the AHL and depth is key in the new NHL. Injuries seem to happen more often. Keep them unless the trade is a clear win.

With Hall on year #2, Horcoff healthy, Hemsky on a contract year I think development is gonna finally happen in Edmonton. And one think about it is that it tends to accelerate and there is a ripple effect. MPS and Eberle should join in on the fun and RNH maybe good enough to make the squad as well.

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#21 fuck off
May 23 2011, 10:45AM
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@ Archaeology & Woodguy

Doesn't Fraiser also have to beat out VandeVelde, and maybe O'marra as well, who showed well enough at the end of the season to up-stage him?

By my eyes Fraiser is trade bait (if the Oil are lucky) or waiver wire fodder come this fall.

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#22 Archaeologuy
May 23 2011, 10:50AM
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@fuck off

Barring Fraser having having the camp of his life, I dont see him being anything more than the 13th forward. If the Oilers could get anything for him, I would take it.

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#23 Oilers G- Nations Poet Laureate
May 23 2011, 11:01AM
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dawgtoy wrote:

First

EPIC FAIL

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#24 Sheldon "Oilers Fan for Life!!!"
May 23 2011, 11:03AM
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@Oilanderp wrote:

Extremely poor form sir. Not only did your message have no appreciable content thereby losing all 5/5 style points, but the one word you did use was completely mispelled in this context. My god man show some pride! I sentence you to 15 raps on the knuckles with a wooden ruler.

You are generous I would of sent him to the Flames Nation and made him rave about Kipper! But I still give you my props.

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#25 Muji 狗
May 23 2011, 11:10AM
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I like Cogs. I hope we keep him, especially if management can't sign any quality Centers (again) this summer. He's cheap. He's improving. He doesn't get injured like everyone else. And he's young.

I'm glad that he's improving his overall game - specifically his PK - but that doesn't comfort me as much as it should considering the Oilers' PK was absolutely horrible last year.

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#26 Chris.
May 23 2011, 11:13AM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

What if he played the wing?

LOL. We've been down that road before my friend.

Is it retro argument thread day at the Nation?

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#27 Brad
May 23 2011, 11:17AM
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Lowetide:

I think you might want to look at what Sam Gagner's goals against per 60 were last year.

One of the worst centers in the league according to that metric.

Players like that don't often help win games.

Cogs and Gagner are both "decent" but if Gagner has a much higher trade value then that's who I would look at moving.

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#28 Sheldon "Oilers Fan for Life!!!"
May 23 2011, 11:17AM
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freeze wrote:

I like Cogs. He is tough, rarely misses a game and could be a good forechecker/PK specialist. I just wish he could win a bloody face-off.

I agree about the face-offs but I also know that many of the best at the dot took 5+ years (I would consider Cogs to be in about year 2.) to learn to win numbers above 50% so there is hope. I think it really depends on Cogs here as a lot of winning is understanding habits and patterns of the centers you will face game to game. In other words keeping stats on what worked against them and what did not. You really have to take a Dennis Rodman attitude here. I really hated him as a basket ball player until I leaned how he approached rebounding. He studied players tendencys and evaluated where their rebounds were statistically most likely to fall and he went there and won the rebounding title year after year. In other words he used brains. Cogs has to also do this. There is also the part of refining his game. My Question on weather he stays or goes is more of a is he the first to leave or the last to leave practice. I my mind a center should always be one of the last to leave the Ice. Time Spent on he Job will equal success here in my opinion.

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#29 justDOit
May 23 2011, 11:18AM
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Stats aside, I see Cogs as a fast, yet not so great skater with limited vision and poorer than average puck skills - including faceoffs. Factor in his age, and I see him totally expendable, and would bet on Brule having a bounce-back season over Cogs breaking out (and I don't see either of those things happening).

I'll bet that between Lander, CVV and Hartikainen, we could let Brule and Cogs walk for nothing, and not have any regrets. I mean, you might get a 2nd rounder for Cogs, but that's about all the value either player would garner. And I'm not totally sure what garner means, and don't care to use the google.

I just wish that my mom wouldn't read over my shoulder! MOM!

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#30 Sheldon "Oilers Fan for Life!!!"
May 23 2011, 11:20AM
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That pin-up just slays me. No not the B&W Lab Honey but the colour one of the Rockies as I live in Indiana and I have not been "THERE" in over 10 years.

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#31 buttermilk buscuits
May 23 2011, 11:30AM
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How about putting Cogliano on the Wing?

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#32 Chris.
May 23 2011, 11:38AM
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When looking at a player I've always been big on the tool bag argument. Speed, Strength, Hands, and Hockey Sense. The greatest player on earth to ever lace 'em up only had two of the above; and the rule generally holds true: players need at least two of the four qualities to succeed. Cogliano has the speed, but lacks in strength and doesn't have top six hands...

Can you develop hockey sense? Or is Cogliano just more comfortable with Renny and the current systems approach?

My gut tells me Lander, or maybe Pitlick will have Cogliano's spot by the time the Oilers are ready to contend.

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#33 ubermiguel
May 23 2011, 11:44AM
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Chris. wrote:

I have trouble imagining Cogs as a key contributer on a Championship team. High end PK'ing centermen win draws and can outmuscle elite forwards.

I'd settle for just winning faceoffs.

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#34 Rogue
May 23 2011, 11:53AM
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Cogs can stay for now. And if he does, Fraser is gone and maybe Brule, unless he can move to the wing. Eventually tho, none will remain in the retooling of the Oil.

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#35 Oilers G- Nations Poet Laureate
May 23 2011, 11:54AM
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Hmmm, winning face-offs. Anybody remember the "failed" Adam Oates experiment? What were J. Stoll's F/O #s before Oates arrived? Oh wait, we traded the only C who could win a face off.

I think it's high time we find an ass't coach who was a F/O specialist so he could teach Cogs and Gags how to win draws.

I know Oates isn't available (working for Carolina I think), but there has to be somebody out there, No?

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#36 DBO
May 23 2011, 11:55AM
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I know it seems like RNH is the man, I still hope for Couturier if only for the size and two way ability and his EV scoring rate. Hall and Eberle will need a responsible two way centre, and Horcoff is needed as a checker. For that reason I hope for Courturier.

Hall-Coutourier-Eberle MPS-Gagner-Hemsky Jones-Horcoff-Cogliano Hartikanen-Lander/CVV-Omark/Reddox

LW on every line has size. Centre now becomes a strength (3 two way centres, and Coutourier projects as a more skilled version of Staal), and then you have the mighty mites on RW. A much more balanced lineup.

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#37 justDOit
May 23 2011, 12:19PM
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Oilers G- Nations Poet Laureate wrote:

Hmmm, winning face-offs. Anybody remember the "failed" Adam Oates experiment? What were J. Stoll's F/O #s before Oates arrived? Oh wait, we traded the only C who could win a face off.

I think it's high time we find an ass't coach who was a F/O specialist so he could teach Cogs and Gags how to win draws.

I know Oates isn't available (working for Carolina I think), but there has to be somebody out there, No?

Well, we had MacT as a coach for a while, and I'm pretty sure that he knew how to win a FO or two! And during his tenure, it would seem that Gags n Cogs didn't pick up any tips or tricks.

As for a former FO specialist, I believe that we have Sillinger on staff already.

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#38 Jodes
May 23 2011, 12:20PM
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Keep Cogs, get rid of Ganger. At least Cogs wants to stay here.

But knowing Tambellini, he'll trade either one of them for another smallish, injury prone, borderline AHL player.

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#39 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
May 23 2011, 12:29PM
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Jodes wrote:

Keep Cogs, get rid of Ganger. At least Cogs wants to stay here.

But knowing Tambellini, he'll trade either one of them for another smallish, injury prone, borderline AHL player.

Gagner wants out? Am I missing something here?

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#40 madjam
May 23 2011, 12:57PM
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Unless Tams makes a committment to forming a legit veteran core here this year , how many incumbents might be requesting a trade out of here ? If it's handled like Souray we'll probably never know . Ahh well , just another problem to add to all the others that they never seem to get around to solving .

If we need grit as badly as we appear to , then maybe Landeskog pulls in the No.1 spot to draft . He sounds better than what we have in system now , by quite a bit ! Hajlmarsson for Smid still seems very likely for this year the more you think about it . I like the scenarios that fill more than just one void at a time . None of our present prospects do that as yet , or even cover one void adequately .

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#41 DangerMan
May 23 2011, 01:34PM
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DBO wrote:

I know it seems like RNH is the man, I still hope for Couturier if only for the size and two way ability and his EV scoring rate. Hall and Eberle will need a responsible two way centre, and Horcoff is needed as a checker. For that reason I hope for Courturier.

Hall-Coutourier-Eberle MPS-Gagner-Hemsky Jones-Horcoff-Cogliano Hartikanen-Lander/CVV-Omark/Reddox

LW on every line has size. Centre now becomes a strength (3 two way centres, and Coutourier projects as a more skilled version of Staal), and then you have the mighty mites on RW. A much more balanced lineup.

I agree with everything you say and its a lineup that has a chance to be passable. I still think Cogliano's spot would be better served by a JYD, two-way type player. But Cogs would be a modest enough stopgap until one is found.

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#42 Spydyr
May 23 2011, 01:38PM
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Keep Cogs(for now) but for the love of Mr. Dithers move him to the wing.If you can move Gags and Mr. Marshmallow for a decent big center do it.

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#43 Mitch
May 23 2011, 01:49PM
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@Lowetide when considering which players to keep which players to move out, Gagner and Cogliano top the list. We don't need foolish statistical numbers, you need a set of eyes. Can they play the NHL game? We have watched these two guys for 4 yrs I would like to say they have went backwards. Same for Smid and Gilbert. The reason for this is no developmental system and poor coaching and managment. Things have been taken taken down to the bark. If you want to win in the NHL today players must fit this criterea, you need to be mobile, win one on one puck battles in corners, big and strong in front of the net and most importantly really no matter what the size of the player a compete level that is off the charts. The Oilers are 8 players away from the playoffs 4 forwards 3 dman and 1 goalie. Unless we make signifigant changes we will never finish higher than 8th to 15th. Brownlee is right this is the summer of "Steve". No more excuses people are getting paid millions to play this game, managers and coaches are making millions of dollars, have some balls and do things right.

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#44 eskimo44
May 23 2011, 02:07PM
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DBO, OB1, and whomever else was interested/involved i wrote a rebuttal to your comments on Gagner in the "top 20" post from yesterday, maybe check it out:) Cogliano is a tough case, if he could add face-offs i think we could have a Kris Draper on our hands. Other than faceoffs he seems pretty good in the middle, although he seems to get outmuscled in front by big forwards sometimes. I think he could find an excellent role as a checkeing winger, who can play center if need be. He might be a legitimatly top tier PKer. Don't trade him this year if RNH, Lander, or VandeVelde can't beat him out, send them to the juniors/minors. Make players earn roles by beating out actual NHLers, no gifting jobs.

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#45 David S
May 23 2011, 02:08PM
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dawgtoy wrote:

First

Fail

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#46 Quicksilver ballet
May 23 2011, 02:27PM
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Jonathan Huberdeau, is he mostly a LW or a Center?

Have to think if he continues to have a good Memorial tournament it'll move him up a couple spots.

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#47 Team Couturier wins faceoffs
May 23 2011, 03:13PM
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Well, if we drafted a faceoff winning Couturier, that would help. However, even with Hoppy coming in, I think you may see the Oilers eventually slide Cogs to the wing to become our new Pisani, as some have mentioned above. If Gags and Hoppy learn to win faceoffs, you would look like this in 5 years: RNH Gags Horc Big UFA that wins faceoffs And that would not be too bad of a center position. A bit small, but so is that Sedin fellow, and he hasnt done too badly to date.

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#48 Team Hall
May 23 2011, 03:26PM
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I wonder if a Gags/Cogs for Bogosian-type deal could get done. We have a glut of small speedy "centermen" and a shortage of big defenders. Even a lesser ranked defenseman than that. I hear Chicago has loads of cap sitting on their D, maybe they'd move us Hjalmarsson for that?

Hall Gags Eberle MP Horc Hemmer Jones RNH Omark Hartik Omarra Cogs JFJ/Fraser/Mac/Brule/Van De Velde - glut of forwards

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#49 Rob...
May 23 2011, 03:32PM
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It'd be epic if Cogs showed up for training camp sporting a Moonraker's Jaws quality metal mouth.

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#50 Shapeman
May 23 2011, 03:41PM
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Did nobody else notice that Gags was starting win a fair number of FO's before he got hurt there. I remember doing my hockey pool and looking at the faceoffs stats for the last 5 or so games before he got hurt and being surprised he was over 50% for all of them. Should we expect this going into next year? Not realistically but it may be an upward arrow for Gagner for next year. P.S. Any thoughts LT?

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