Kids in contention

If you think youth or inexperience will keep Sam Gagner and Andrew Cogliano out of the running for a roster spot with Team Canada for the World Championships in Quebec City and Halifax, think again. Both dynamic Edmonton Oilers rookies have been put on notice by Team Canada that they are in contention to be added to a roster that already includes teammate Steve Staios. That’s a move that could be made when the roster is finalized Monday or Tuesday. Being "on notice" doesn’t mean Gagner and Cogliano definitely will join 15 players already named to the roster—the next additions depend largely on which players become available after the first round of NHL playoffs—but both are in the running. And why not? "The reason that they’re under consideration is they play a mature game," Team Canada coach Ken Hitchcock told me Saturday morning. "They don’t play like kids. "There’s lots of 20-year-old players who aren’t close to being considered because they don’t have any maturity to their game. Both these guys do and that’s why they’re being considered." With Oilers coach Craig MacTavish joining Hitchcock’s Team Canada staff as an associate coach along with Pat Burns and Mike Johnston, it’s not like Gagner and Cogliano were going to slip between the cracks. They’ll get a long look from Team Canada brass—GM Steve Yzerman along with Doug Armstrong and Luc Robitaille. As Hitchcock put it, "They’re both on the radar." Gagner, 18, the youngest player in the NHL this season, finished third in Oilers team scoring with 13-36-49. Cogliano, 20, was right behind him with 18-27-45. Team Canada is scheduled to open camp Friday in Quebec City, and Gagner and Cogliano are among a group of 25 or so hopefuls with the "on notice" designation. Team Canada’s roster could include as few as 22 players and as many as 25. If the brass opts for a number closer to 25, the final two or three spots could be filled by young players like Gagner and Cogliano. In simple terms, being part of the team would provide experience that could come in handy with the fast-approaching 2010 Olympics. "They’ve always had younger players on the back end of their line-up learning what it takes," Hitchcock said. —Listen to Robin Brownlee every Thursday from 4 to 5pm on Total Sports with Bob Stauffer on Team 1260.

  • misfit

    That would certainly be one heck of a year for Gagner. Can/Rus Superseries followed by training camp, preseason, and a full NHL season only to go on and play in the World Championships. It's almost too bad the Oilers didn't let him join the World Junior team.

  • Tommy

    I hope MacT can pull this one off and get the kids in. If they could go and even just play a few minutes a game – the amount of experience they could gain would be amazing.

    And Hitchcock is right – add a few young guys to the Canadian roster to give them some international experience ahead of 2010.

  • RobinB

    You're right. The experience of playing with and against other elite players, even in a limited role, is nothing but positive for young prospects.
    I'd love to say Gagner and Cogliano will definitely get a spot, but Hitch wouldn't spill the beans to that extent in our conversation.
    My hunch is they'll get a shot.

  • Hemmer

    I read this in the Metro today…
    I really didn't think you would write for such a shitty paper…it was the best column that paper has ever seen. They are terrible at sports…

  • RobinB

    Hemmer: Every paper, be it the Journal or the Sun here in Edmonton, has to start somewhere.

    In terms of content etc, the growth of a newspaper is ongoing and takes many years. Your characterization of Metro shows a lack of understanding about the process.
    I appreciate that you enjoy my work, and I'd suggest that instead of characterizing Metro as you did, give them credit for approaching writers like myself in an effort to improve their content. It takes time.

  • E. Pierce

    Who cares about the understanding of the process? I don't want to have a 10 page paper that is 9 pages of crappy ads shoved in my face by a vagrant as I try to walk into Tims every morning.

    You are way better on this site and the team Robin. Those articles are too vanilla that they make you write for the Metro. Newspapers are like Ford Automobiles. Big, expensive, clunky and soon to be replaced.

  • Wanye Gretz

    If I were to write for the Metro I would win a Pulitzer prize for my segment called "Things you read three days ago on the internet" By Wanye Gretz – Beat Reporter

  • RobinB

    E: They don't make me write anything.
    To your point, Metro is one audience, Team 1260 is another and this site is yet another. There's lots to go around.

    If the style of Metro doesn't suit you, don't read it. I can write and say things here I couldn't in the Journal or the Sun, and I like it that way.

  • RobinB

    Did Wanye just say he'd "win a Pulitzer prize" or did lousy comprehension just cause me to shat my pants?

    And how is it a guy like Gretz, who can barely spell Pulitzer, is cocky enough to trash talk a little giveaway — any newspaper for that matter — like the Metro? Watch your mouth, clown wad.

  • DJ Spin Cycle

    I feel I should point out that Metro News is a huge international organization that could crush us all with its thoughts… having said that, I still like OilersNation better.

    That is all.

  • David S

    Super Series, training camp, full NHL season and now this? No doubt the experience Gagner might get would be invaluable, but am I the only one who's starting to get a bit worried about how much hockey our 18 year old wizard might end up playing this year? I'm sure he'd be up for it, but c'mon man. Anybody know how many games he played last year?

  • Oilerfreak

    I agree with you. Gagner is only 18 and has played ALOT of hockey over the past year. As much as I would like to see him play, he needs the rest and get ready to for the Oilers next season.

  • fyvmvv

    What's this scuttlebutt going around that they are bringing Simpson into some sort of jr. g.m. position in the Oiler head office? I can't believe that they'd bring some dude who couldn't coach the powerplay and then let him start impacting the whole organization. Time to clean out the Oiler Vets Mutual Employment Society and get some experienced management people who will do what is best for the hockey club and not what's best for everybody on their Christmas card list!!

  • jdrevenge

    Is there any truth to Simpson pretty much ruining Lupul during his time here. I have a hard time believing that the fans were too much for him considering his play this year.