Andrew Cogliano came into the NHL alongside Sam Gagner, but after three seasons toiling for the Edmonton Oilers, there’s going to be a lot more separation between these teammates and friends — at least when they look at their pay cheques.
While Gagner, 21, just inked a two-year deal with the Oilers worth $4.55 million, Cogliano and agent Anton Thun are slogging through contract talks and it looks from where I sit like they’re going to get squeezed on the numbers by GM Steve Tambellini.
When I look at Cogliano, then taking into account what Gagner and Gilbert Brule got for contracts (Brule got $1.85 per season over two years), I see a player who probably deserves $1.5 million a season for a two-year term.
My best guess, and that of Oilers Lunch host Bob Stauffer, is we’re more likely to hear an announcement about a one-year contract, with dollars in the range of $1.25 million, in coming days.
I hope Sam will at least buy the pizza on boys night out.
So, what makes Gagner, who made $875,00 in salary last season, one in which he scored 15-26-41 in 68 games to give him career totals of 44-7-131 in 223 games, a good deal at his price point, at least to hear pundits tell it, when the contract was announced?
And how is it Cogliano, who struggled under Pat Quinn and scored just 10-18-28 in 82 games to give him 46-65-11 in 246 games, has to grind it out to get a one-year package from Tambellini?
For me, the answer is perception as much as performance, at least to this point. Gagner’s seen as a young player on the rise and somebody who, given what the roster should look like, will be a second-line centre, at worst. What’s Sam supposed to get this season, 55, 60 points?
Cogliano? Where does he fit, exactly? Quinn never figured it out. Now, it’s up to Tom Renney. Cogliano has been on shaky ground since the Oilers tried to package him with Dustin Penner and Ladislav Smid for Dany Heatley. He has yet to recover. What’s his future, and where?
Here and now, I don’t think Gagner is worth a million bucks a year more than Cogliano, but apparently the Oilers do (unless I’m way off on what Cogliano signs for), and that’s all that really matters.
While I’m certain Gagner will get every opportunity to blossom in terms of linemates and power-play time, I don’t know where Cogliano fits into the plans and I won’t have any real grasp on it until I talk to Renney.
It’s setting up, to look at the cards and hear a lot of people tell it, like this is the season Gagner leaves Cogliano in the dust in terms of production and prominence. A lot of people believe he’ll cover the contract. Consider me not so sure.
Eighty-two games from now when the fourth season is in the books for Gagner and Cogliano, we can all look at the boxcar numbers and at the digits on their pay cheques. We’ll see who is the better bargain.
Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.