This is Shawn Horcoff before the turn of the century. Although many Oiler fans have been calling for his head since 2007, Horcoff remains the best center in town. Will that change any time soon?
Shawn Horcoff is the most complete center on the Oilers roster. He faced the toughest opponents, had the best faceoff percentage, was entrusted with the elite calibre rookies. In every demonstrable way, Shawn Horcoff was the leader of the Edmonton Oilers. Again.
Center: 5×5 scoring (points-per-60 minutes)
- Sam Gagner 1.91
- Shawn Horcoff 1.47
- Andrew Cogliano 1.33
- Colin Fraser 0.48
Center: Quality of Competition
- Shawn Horcoff .057
- Andrew Cogliano .022
- Sam Gagner -.013
- Colin Fraser -.086
- Sam Gagner 7.0
- Shawn Horcoff 7.0
- Andrew Cogliano 2.3
- Colin Fraser -9.6
Center: Scoring Chances
- Shawn Horcoff 199-186 .517
- Andrew Cogliano 290-329 .468
- Sam Gagner 271-317 .461
- Colin Fraser 90-135 .400
What does it all mean?
The Oilers have two very young centermen trying to grow up quickly in Gagner and Cogliano. Gags numbers show the offensive ability and a fine CorsiRel, but he faced easy competition and the scoring chance numbers should have been better. Was this a result of his struggles with the two Swedish kids? Don’t know. We are reaching a point where even the most stubborn Gagner supporters (me, Zona, a few others) should begin to wonder if he’s going to be the player forecast those years ago. I’m still betting on him.
Cogliano is making progress, and I think coach Renney has been helpful in the process. Cogs isn’t scoring a lot and his scoring chance totals are about the same as Gagner’s but he did it in tougher waters. It’s small progress but there’s a heartbeat.
Colin Fraser’s numbers are disappointing but we also have to remember that the man was playing with some subpar linemates for much of the season. Edmonton’s depth forwards were among the worst in the NHL.
This is Gilbert Perreault as a Montreal Junior Canadien, shortly before Buffalo drafted him in 1970. There is no 20-year old Gilbert Perreault in this draft, so the Oilers options for improving center involve the following:
- Signing a free agent like Brooks Laich.
- Trading for a qualitied veteran center.
- Trusting that Gagner-Cogliano can improve this coming season.
- Inserting Anton Lander in the mix and hoping for the best.
- Allowing the number one overall pick to stick with the big club if he impresses.
- Moving Taylor Hall to center full time.
- Go crazy and offer the moon for Mike Richards.
I think option six looms large.