One of the second-tier issues the Oilers face this summer (behind Khabibulin and Souray) is what to do with Andrew Cogliano, fresh off the worst season of his NHL career.
Jim Matheson shone some light on what’s happening behind the scenes earlier today in a catch-all article, and got some great quotes from Cogliano’s agent, Anton Thun. Lowetide keyed in on Thun’s comment about other teams, but for my money the key point Thun made was this one:
"We’re looking at the book of business that Andrew’s created in his three years in Edmonton and we’re trying to come up with an assessment where he fits as to other people who have signed.”
How one looks at Cogliano depends to no small degree on how one weights his performance this past season versus his performance in his first two seasons. Thun talks about the “book” that Cogliano’s created in his three years in Edmonton, and if we look at it from that perspective he deserves a fairly decent contract – two 18 goal seasons in three years, two seasons with solid offensive numbers.
Unfortunately for Thun and Cogliano, the NHL is a ‘what have you done for me lately’ league. Alex Tanguay scored 258 points in 280 games between 2005 and 2009 – an average pace of 76 points per 82 games played. Now, though, he’s a guy with injuries coming off a 37 point season – and that’s exactly how the Flames paid him when they signed him to a contract this summer. Because Cogliano’s a restricted free agent, Thun can talk to other teams about him – and I hope he is, because I don’t think anyone’s willing to pay a premium for him coming off such a lousy season.
Personally, I think Cogliano’s got value, though it kills me that a guy with faceoff percentage/defensive awareness as bad as his keeps getting trotted out at centre. This is a rebuilding year, and it seems as good a time as any to try him out full-time on the wing on a scoring line – and if that keeps one of the shiny rookies in Oklahoma for the season, is that such a bad thing?
I honestly don’t know if Cogliano’s going to be a fit for the Oilers long-term; he’s small and his strengths and weaknesses aren’t an ideal fit with the current roster, but I do know this: his value is at an all-time low, both in terms of the kind of contract he deserves and the kind of trade return he’d fetch, and that makes trading him now a less than ideal situation. I also believe he’s a better player than he showed last season, where he wasn’t well-used by Pat Quinn, and I think he might show it if the Oilers give him one more year.