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.

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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?


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.

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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.


— 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.

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— 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.

  • Ender

    Stick a fork in Cogs; he’s done. Sorry, Arch. I know we both liked him in the past, but this year you picked him as a Star while I left #13 out of the Lucky 13 in favour of Omark. I figure it’s only his relatively unnoticable play that’s kept him in town to this point in the season. If he’d have been better, he’d be on another team by now and we’d be sitting on another pick for this spring.

    On the other hand, maybe the foot-fear has us both looking like Nostradamus on the Whitney front. Here’s hoping we were both wrong.

  • Cervantes

    Cogs needs a long sitdown with a sports shrink, and a stick change too. He reminds me a lot of Horcoff during his awful season. Trying, working hard, just not quite there. I still think that there’s a player there, somewhere.

    I’m also much more forgiving of Cogs than Gags, because Cogs recognized the weakness in his current game and has tried to turn himself around as a hitter and PKer. Maybe he’s not the best, but his forecheck is good, his PK positioning is pretty darn decent most times, and he is willing to throw his body around.

    Unfortunately, if he can’t seize this opportunity, he’s screwed. With Vande Velde and Lander coming up, Pitlick a pretty sure bet to be getting time, and Hartikainen pushing for the role of bottom 6 PK/energy guy, there isn’t going to be a lot of room next year for guys like Cogs and Brule.

    He has chemistry and plenty of time with Penner, decent ice vision and passing that might work with both wingers, and the speed to keep up with Hemmer. It’s the best chance he’s going to get in his Oilers career to prove he belongs here.

    Good luck, Lucky 13.

  • Crackenbury

    I’ll be curious to see how Roy handles a game where he’s under some pressure. Reminds me a lot of Deslaurier. He relies on positioning and doesn’t seem to have much for reflexes. There have been a lot of near misses to the open wide side of the net where he doesn’t even flinch as the puck goes by.

    Edit: I always like to pull for guys like Cogliano, but his hands are colder than a comatose Marchant. I’d take any draft pick offered for him right now just to make room on the roster.

  • Jay Gray

    Cogs is never gonna be the guy that we remember from the WJC a couple of years ago. He’s young and if he can show he can give some good minutes on the PK, chip in for 20 goals a year, I for one will be happy. Good on him if he can wrangle 3M/per from some team like say NYR…but I’ll keep him as is, for 1M gladly….any day

  • Horcsky

    Limping Whitney sounds bad. Maybe those bionic feet have their warranties voided when they’re used for over 25 minutes a game?

    I wonder if the powerplay improving has anything to do with Omark. By the eye, the first few games he was up the powerplay seemed to be really moving the puck well.

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    There are only so many spots on the Oilers’ roster, 23 if I am correct, and some are being filled with “passengers.”

    With Hemsky back, Horcoff around the corner and the Oil sitting in 15th place and likely to stay there (sorry coach Renney), is it time to start moving non-performers like Cogliano, Brule, Fraser, Jacques, MacIntyre, Strudwick, Foster and assess more of the deserving talent in OKC?

    The Oilers will need to open slots in OKC for their quality draft choices next season, so they should start the process now.

    Like many posters, I had hoped Cogliano and Brule would legitimately earn a spot; hasn’t happened. Another disappointment is Gagne. Not enough NHL-calibre players on the roster. Sad, but sentimentally has no place in high-performing pro sports like the NHL.

    • Wanyes bastard child

      Wow, if Gagne is a disappointment im sure glad he plays for Tampa Bay 😛

      On the other hand I love what Gagner has been doing between Eberle and Hall 🙂

    • longbottom/P.Biglow

      May I ask What are you on man?
      I will give you Cogs and Brule, Fraser,Struds, and maybe Jacques.
      But Foster has been playing alot better now and Mac doesn’t play in enough games.
      Gagner is a disappointment? Why?
      His numbers put him at the lower end of First line centers in this league. He is a whole 9 months older than Eberle.
      So sorry but your standards suggest that if Hall or Eberle don’t win the calder then they are disappointments. Maybe do a little research before commenting on players trying and not calling them passengers.

  • Wanyes bastard child

    Here’s hoping that tambo has benn talking with long island and jersey about there first picks.

    IMO I’d group whomever they want together to obtain those picks ( with the obvious exception of 4,14)

    A trade like that would give us the freedom to tank the year and assess the parts we have in OKL.

  • Robin, I looked at the line combos from practice and was glad to see they didn’t send Omark away immediately simply because of the return of Hemsky, but why did they sit Stortini in favor of Jacques. Stortini is more proven, fights more, plays more physical, is better defensively and better offensively. What rationale is it to even have Jacques on the roster at this point?

  • Quicksilver ballet

    There’s still hope for Andrew, it won’t be in the top 6 or even 9 some nights but players like him are valuable once they settle into an accepted role. Good teams need guys like a Cogliano, especially if he comes in at close the league minumum, which is where he’s headed.

    On a side note, anyone else notice how solid Strudwick has been at shutting down the other teams top line when he’s been on the ice…he must be a plus player the last 5 or 6 games. San Jose, LA Kings, Vancouver etc, perhaps it’s time to drop the R from that namebar on his back.;)

  • Horcsky

    I don’t need 13 to be able to be a guy who’s good at putting up counting stats but I do need him to be good at Something.

    It seems like his FO stats have been better the last 5-7 games but those have to keep going up and up and he’s gotta prove his mettle on the PK.

    Even if the guy went 15 goals and 30 points with a 50% faceoff mark and plus 10, that would be good enough for me as long as he wasn’t making Real money.

    But I’m not even sure he can do that anymore.

    Anyway, if 10 didn’t come back for the season then an audition like this might do for 13 what it did for Old 26 when Marchant had that stretch with Old 94 and a young and emerging 83.

  • Death Metal Nightmare

    OB1 Team — Hall Says: “I wonder if we’re the only team in the league who’s highest scoring forward is a disapointment (sic)…. at 21 no less.”

    The Oilers are one of two teams in 15th place in their respective conferences. Being the highest scoring forward isn’t an attribute as two of the Oilers’ three top elite scorers have been absent due to injuries… And what is the significance of 21? At 21, he has been going downhill!

    I would say Gagne has been a disappointment so far this season and, from what I have read from others on this blog, I’m not alone. This isn’t personal; as an Oiler fan, I had hoped for more from Gagne. The real question for management is he a quickly depreciating asset?

    • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

      What significance is 21? It’s everything. A quick glance at the production/age chart will tell you he’s 2-3 years away from his peak offensive production….just when you want to run a player out of town.

    • D-Man

      Anyone that says Sam Gagner is a dissapointment this season is obviously not an Oilers fan and is not watching the games. They’re the D-Bags that jumped onto the bandwagon in 05-06 and then proceeded to stop watching once the Oilers started losing again. Now they spread these stupid posts on the websites as they discuss the Oilers with other D-bags that don’t watch the games at the water cooler every morning.
      (Rant Over)

      Sam Gagner has looked very effective with Eberle and Hall and owns the offensive instincts that Horcoff just didn’t have. After the feeling out process in their first 2-3 games together this trio has been flying around and have created the most high scoring chances out of any Oiler line. There is obviously some flaws, all three still make youthful mistakes, such as not using their linemates properly, holding onto the puck too long, etc. But overall the three have shown good chemistry and more often then not they find each other in good spots in the offensive zone.

      SO LAY OFF Sam Gagner. There’s a laundry list of issues with the Oilers right now but he’s not one of them. And what were you so called Oilers fans expecting from this kid. On a team that scores about 2.5 goals per game were you all expecting a 90-110 point season or for him to break Gretzky’s 50 in 39? Please… his numbers have been solid on a squad that has a defence that’s about as strong as the NYI and a forward corps who’s most experienced player right now is Ales Hemsky who has 465 GP.

      And we also just lost Whitney. (Hooray for top 3 pick)

      • O.C.

        Relax, everyone is entitled to their opinion.

        FWIW, nobody outside of Gagner’s fan club from his rookie season (and it is dwindling) is expecting him to produce big numbers anymore. As we have discussed here before, his top end is most likely as a productive 2nd line centreman. The problems for him are 1) due to the lack of depth at centre in the organization he is playing a 1st line centreman role with Horcs out right now that he cannot handle at this point in his career against stronger opposition and 2) after the rookie season everyone expected him to be the second coming which he is not so there are a lot of jaded Oilers’ fans.

        WRT his current line with Hall and Eberle, they have been in trouble the past couple of games defensively and it is starting to show. Sam is a weak defensive centreman at this point, and with Renney looking to develop Hall and Eberle against top opposition it is really starting to show. He is also not showing to be that huge of an upgrade from Horcoff offensively to compensate for his comparative weakness defensively. Horcoff compensated for Hall’s and Eberle’s rookie mistakes on defence – Gagner cannot.

        That being said, IF Gagner is being viewed as the #1 centerman of the future (hopefully Tambi is not that stupid), then it does not hurt to play him with Hall and Eberle and let them all take their lumps. It is not like Renney has any other options right now………..

        • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

          Good points, however you can make a case that Gagner is *already* a strong 2nd line center. Now, if you think he wont improve from here then fair enough… but for the most part, if that is your stance, I think you are going against the odds.

  • Wanyes bastard child

    Well, Game 1 for Cogs to redeem himself did not go overly well. He will need to adjust to playing with Hemmer and Penner, rather than Brule and Penner. That being said, he has looked a bit lost all season – taking the wrong angles when attacking, poor defensive positioning, etc. I have been a supporter of Cogs in the past, but it is starting to look like the best thing for him would be a move to another team to rejuvenate his career.

    The Gagner/Hall/Eberle line looked a bit off today and it showed especially in the +/- column. Hurry back, Horcs, because Sam is not ready for tough minutes defensively yet.

    Tonight’s game and the one against the Canucks really showed the weakness of the team down the middle. If Malkin is available again at the draft, as much I am not sure he would like the physicality of the Western conference, I think that Tambi should look at dealing for him if the team does not have a shot at Couturier. Penner would likely be a given in this package, and I would not hesitate to add in Gagner as well if needed – he would have time to develop in Pittsburgh as their 3rd line center and would likely put up better numbers in the softer conference. If Tambi thinks the team will be past the lottery stage in 2012, the 1st rounder would be expendable that year as well. Malkin’s cap hit hurts a bit, but the Oilers have room on that front.

    • D-Man

      No one can argue that Malkin is a good/great player; but trading for him makes little sense with a rebuild… Also – what would Pittsburgh gain? You never ‘win’ a trade when you send the best player as we learned the hard way with Pronger… If I were Pittsburgh and considering dealing Malkin to Edmonton, I’d be asking for Hemsky, MPS and a 2nd round pick. Is that a price you’d pay in Edmonton?? I hope not…

      In this day and age with how valuable 1st and 2nd round draft picks are with the cap (and another CBA looming); you keep the draft pick and take this season as a lesson for all the kids… Next year – you dump a couple more transitional players (like Strudwick and Vandermeer, maybe one or two of JFJ, Storts and/or Smak), maybe pick up a decent third line center via trade (if possible) and enjoy a top 3, top 5 pick…

      Patience is key for this season…

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    @ Cow_Bell/DSF and the rest of the anti-Horcoff crew.

    Oilers are 2-7-2 without him (45 point pace) and 10-10-4 with him (82 point pace)

    lol @ you guys

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    I didn’t get in on the Renney scrum or with Whitney to check on his ankle because I was in the Buffalo room post-game for, but my guess is Whitney’s injury was an aggravation of something he already had.

    Like I said, Whitney was clearly favouring his right foot/ankle at the morning skate — shifting his weight off it on turns and during drills. Don’t know yet if that problem is an injury or a problem related to past foot issues, but I’ll try to find out Wednesday.

  • Rob...

    I wish they would play the young players a lot more. I would be giving all the rookies 15-20 minutes a game with first line powerplay.
    Forget the playoffs and just focus on developing the young talent you have. Get one more really good draft by sucking this year. Get any player form the farm with talent up and see if they might be a hidden gem. That would give edmonton the talent base which is what gets people to sign in this very cold city. That and the fact we have less big spiders, cockroaches and rats.

  • Cogliano can fly and he does try but the play will often die off his stick.

    Part of me hates to admit it but I love Penner’s game this year. Theres a mean streak there I havent seen before. The thought of Penner or Hemsky has started to creep in to my head where as in the past it was always a no brainer.

    I hope the Oil find a way to keep both.

  • Ryan14

    The only ones who think Gagner is a bust are the ones who are still lavishing on him being 6th overall, which apparently = best in the league.

    If a player, at 21, is on pace for his best season, is leading forwards in points, and is a disappointment, then nothing will ever be good enough for you.

  • Rob...

    I wish Hall could teach Cogs a thing or two about where to be on the ice on a forecheck. I love Eberle’s awareness on the ice, but I can’t remember the last time I saw an Oiler cause opponents trying to break out of their zone as much grief as Hall does.

    • Horcsky

      Hall does have the tools to disrupt the breakout for sure. Both he a Cogs have blazing speed, but Hall also has great anticipation and hockey sense, along with a pretty long reach.

    • D-Man

      You’re right – but I don’t think you can teach the awareness of a Hall or Eberle… There are few players out there as blessed as they are; and we’re fortunate to have both of them…

      I think Cogs might be a casualty this year as Brownlee mentioned… With a one year deal and the emergence of some of the other rookies like Omarra and Omark (along with Pitlick, Lander and Hartkinanen on the outside looking in) – I won’t be shocked if Cogs isn’t given a qualified offer at the end of this season…

  • longbottom/P.Biglow

    “If Malkin is available again at the draft…”

    Whoa, whoa, whoa…excuse me? Is this true? Where did you hear that?

    Malkin is a superstar. Hemsky/MPS/2nd (hypothetically) for Malkin – well, give to get and all that…I’d hate to lose MPS. How about Gagner – swap centers, plus some talent goes their way in addition to Gagner. That’s a fair trade. Fun to think about…not gonna happen. Never.

    • D-Man

      First – you’re right… Never in a billion years does Pittsburgh consider that trade… Ryan2 was suggesting it; but for argument’s sake – Pittsburgh still has Staal as #2 and I don’t think Gags fits there as a #3 center… They need wingers… I’m also assuming Hall and Eberle are off limits in Tambo’s eyes as well… I’m guessing adding Hemsky and MPS to Pittsburgh top 6 would vault them to instant Cup favorite…

      Of course – never going to happen, but fun to speculate, even as ridiculous as that thought is…

      • D-Man

        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?).

        • D-Man

          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…

  • D-Man

    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 ?

    • D-Man

      Are you serious?? I take it you forgot the Phaneuf trade?? He got fleeced by Brian Burke of all people… Stajan and Hagman for Phaneuf?? That move doesn’t add any toughness…

      Perhaps having a Sutter brother behind the bench as a Renney assistant might improve team toughness – but you’re slitting the throat and cutting off an arm if you add Sutter to the management team…

    • Quicksilver ballet

      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.

      • D-Man

        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 .

      • Ender

        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?