Tuesday, July 12, 2011
I'm still here. still alive and kicking as it were. Summer has arrived in all of its glory and the result has been less time spent in front of the laptop and worrying about the Oilers (well, perhaps worry is too strong a word) and more time spent on the deck, at the cottage and doing things more suited for sunny days.
So I've been putting off posting what I think about the Oilers going into next summer (just a slight tease - I see their season ending up with something rhyming with 'boughtatree' or similar anyhow) but I will get to that in the next day or two. But first a few words about the suddenly departed Andrew Cogliano, traded to the Ducks for a second round pick. So he joins Jacques and Deslauriers and I wonder if Lubo is going to walk into the room this fall and say in his little Slovakian accent 'Trade me right fucking now!' when he sees that Bob Murray has collected three guys who barely have a clue between them.
I kid, slightly. While Jacques is a truly horrible player at the NHL level and Deslauriers is a poor goaltender, imo, (although to be fair to JDD the Oilers handled his development terribly - he could probably sue them for ruining his career), Cogliano is not absolutely worthless. He is a pretty good representative of what has gone wrong with the Edmonton Oilers over the past few years though.
Cogliano was picked late in the first round. He had a nice pedigree, Bob MacKenzie raved about him although he was biased (I think his kid played with Cogliano). The biggest thing about him was his speed. Todd Marchant with hands was the description bandied about. He played in the WJC and acquitted himself fairly well and was pretty good at Michigan.
God knows I've ranted enough about how the Oilers dumped good NHL players over the years, Cogliano, along with Gagner and Nilsson, arrived in the middle of that purge. In their Cup run the Oilers had the following forwards who could play the toughs or do some damage against the softs at evens or do damage on special teams: Smyth, Horcoff, Samsonov, Stoll, Hemsky, Torres, Peca, Pisani, Moreau, Dvorak.
Samsonov Peca and Dvorak were gone come fall 2006, Petr Sykora and Joffrey Lupul were their replacements, the falloff was immense, the results predictable and a year later when Cogliano came to camp Ryan Smyth was gone as well as those two.
So for Cogliano, Gagner and Nilsson (as well as Stortini and Brodziak iirc, although not for poor Robbie Schremp) it was the perfect situation. There were only six quality NHLers remaining plus Dustin Penner and Patrick Thoresen so the holes in the lineup were many and in what has become the new Oilers' way instead of bringing in some veterans to hold the fort while the kids learned their trade elsewhere, the youngsters were thrown to the wolves.
They struggled as would be expected and Nilsson was benched a number of times until it looked like his career was over and then it appears he realized it and for a couple of months the three kids played together, caught some magic in a bottle and became the toast of the town.
That would be the high water mark for the kids. Oilers' management, addled as always, responded as if they were the second coming of Gretzky, Messier and Kurri. They shipped out Stoll and Torres and Greene (Thoresen was already gone), they brought in Cole and Visnovsky and they preceded to stink. Again.
It wasn't long before Nilsson was back in the pressbox and for two years he confounded the Oilers until they cut him loose along with Patrick O'Sullivan.
As for Cogliano, well a goodly part of the blame belongs with him. The kid had try and he could skate and he wasn't afraid to go to the crease to score those dirty goals but when it came to hockey he wasn't all that good. He couldn't win draws and he was always on the wrong side of his check and he had no idea how to use that blazing speed.
Is it all his fault? Of course not. The Oilers rushed him first of all and then, as LT remarked (paraphrasing), he had three rookie years in the league. They had him over his head, they had him as a checker, they had him here, they had him there. They botched his development and it wasn't until Renney came on board that there seemed to be a plan. The plan may never have worked but the fact that there was no plan in the first place is another black mark against an organization that has fallen down and still hasn't gotten up.
Will Cogliano become a player? Well its hard to say. He's getting a wakeup call and maybe another organization will teach him what he needs to know to become a player. When Belanger came in it was clear that the writing was on the wall and that he was fourth on the depth chart at centre now.
What's frightening? Here's a tell. Cogliano was on the bubble but it was after the rookie camp that he got moved because the Oilers, bless their hearts, see a new shiny object coming up the pipe. It may be Nugent Hopkins but more likely its Lander, imo, who turned heads and had people turning cartwheels.
A fan somewhere last week (may have been LT's) was going on and on about how Cogliano was no longer necessary because of Lander and a few cautionary voices popped up. Anton Lander is a nice prospect who has played exactly as many games in the NHL as I have. Dumping a guy who has four seasons under his belt for nothing is SOP for the Oilers and if Lander or Nugent Hopkins can't make the grade than the fourth line will be a sinkhole again and if Horcoff or Gagner goes down (I know I know hard to imagine) then suddenly O'Marra or VandeVelde is your number three centre.
I mean, seriously.
I have no idea if Cogliano carves out a career or if he's in Italy in a couple of years playing with Mario Chitaroni and Robbie Schremp but you'd think you might want to not just toss him away just yet, right?
Oilers love their picks though and they just got a second. So there you go.
Posted by Black Dog at 3:30 PM