Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Going, Going, Gone

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.


Anonymous said...

I think the Oilers likely feel they are heavy on forwards and light on defencemen. Moving Cogs for a future pick may mean they can sign a d-man. That or they are working on a trade and having picks for the trade are preferable to contracts....

Black Dog said...

Anon - the move isn't a surprise for a lot of the reasons you mentioned

- they had 50 contracts so no room to move, of course that's their own fault, not sure why they'd keep Ryan O'Marra for example at this point

- they have a lot of lower end Dmen, I presumed the move would be Cogs plus a Dman for a higher end Dman or Cogs and a pick for a salary dump, that type of thing

I understand why the move for a pick and for that matter I understand why they moved him, he's the odd man out for sure. Just wish, as usual, that they had taken a different route. Minor quibble overall though.

Russ said...

I am not convinced that Cogs represents a better center option than say, Hall in a pinch....particularly with our overabundance of wingers.
Tambo just better get a friggin d man tho. I am getting worried.

RiversQ said...

We're sitting here lamenting the loss of Andrew F. Cogliano.

It's not even that crazy to be just slightly disappointed because the stiff they plug into his spot will almost definitely be worse. This move doesn't strike me like one that is part of a greater plan.

Black Dog said...

Russ - perhaps except I think that Hall is the first line LW, not the fourth line centre. I don't think the plan is to have Hall play centre and is someone goes down, and they will, do we want to have to scramble the entire lineup for want of a guy who can move up.

As for a Dman, I'm not holding my breath.

RiversQ - naw I don't think there's a plan other than to hope RHN or Lander make the grade. They very well may but if not its Vandevelde or O'Marra. Those guys make Cogliano look like Todd Marchant with hands.

Anonymous said...

I was also piqued by the timing of this trade. With the arbitration hearing acting as kind of a deadline, it's possible that this trade has nothing to do with development camp and that any connection to RNH and Lander being shiny new centres is purely coincidence.

That said, we cheer for the Oilers.


Black Dog said...

Showerhead - yes that could also be a possibility or perhaps its just coincidence as well, both items I mean.

I tend to believe that based on the flood of positive reviews about Lander that were forthcoming that this was the tipping point. They liked what they saw and figured that he could do the job and that as a result Cogliano was expendable. They could be right. I hope so.

Anonymous said...

"Dumping a player who has 4 seasons under his belt for nothing?"

That has got to be the worst analysis of this trade I've ever heard. It is short-sighted and completely ignores the big picture.

1. Cogliano played himself out of a roster spot. He couldn't make it as a top 6 forward. He couldn't make it as a bottom 6 forward. He couldn't make it as a center or winger. He played himself off the team. Maybe he was rushed but Cogliano himself has to be held accountable. Contrary to what you may believe, Steve Tambellini is not the constant scapegoat for everything.

2. As soon as Eric Belanger was signed, you should've seen this trade coming a mile away. Belanger is a huge upgrade on Cog's spot.

3. The Oilers were at the limit of the number of players they had. We knew there weren't any warm bodies coming back.

4. Anaheim has more than 1 guy who can take faceoffs, thus they have the luxury of shielding Cogliano in the bottom 6 letting him develop and fly under the radar. The Oilers are a rebuilding team and need a proven performer in that spot, thus the Belanger signing.

Black Dog said...

lol anon talking about picking your spots and missing the point entirely

1. More than once I said that Cogliano made his own bed. The Oilers deserve some blame for poor devleopment but in the end its his responsibility.

As for Tambo I praise him when he does well (Belanger, Smyth) and overall I like his work this summer. Also the team has been the worst in the league the last five years usually while spending to the cap. This has been under Lowe and then Tambo. The facts speak for themselves. Management on this club is terrible.

2. Everyone knew Cogliano was a goner once they signed Belanger for three years. But where is the fourth line centre? Will it be Ryan O'Marra?

3. Whose fault is it that they are at fifty contracts? To say that they could not bring a player back because of a situation they have painted themselves into doesn't make a lot of sense. Did they suddenly turn around and say 'Whoa, we can't bring anyone in?' Pretty short sighted though typical. Its happened before.

4. Not arguing with the Belanger signing. Not even arguing with the return of a second rounder. The problem, again, is that they now have a hole on the roster that will be filled by someone who has never played in the NHL or a guy like O'Marra. Holes on the roster. Its been SOP since they ran Laddy Smid out to play top four minutes as a 20 year old.

Scott Reynolds said...

You and I are pretty much on the same page here. The return is underwhelming but you couldn't really have expected better at this point. The pick might even serve as part of the long-term plan if they flip it next summer or at the deadline Feb. 2013 when the club is better and they have a grasp on what they want to complement the core. Still, it's never fun to watch the club make another little moves that makes them worse in the here and now.

Black Dog said...

Scott - I'm actually pretty confident that Lander will be an NHL player, maybe even this year although more likely next year and Cogliano was no longer in the plans so he was going to get moved. The return is not bad either. I'd just be happier if for once they had a guy who we knew could step in and play thos eminutes. Cogliano was a whole lot of meh but better than nothing.

If Lander makes the club and does well then Tambo will look good and I am sure they think he will.

Woodguy said...

I think you guys are looking at this the wrong way.

Belanger repalced Cogliano. Its an upgrade we can all agree on.

So 13 was then in the 4C slot.

Tambellini stated they were wary of $2Mish arbitration award. If 13 gets that and they do a one year contract, then what do you have at the end of next year?

A 4C whose QO is $2.2M. Assuming he gets pushed off the roster then by either RNH or Lander (or both), how much value does a 4C with a $2.2QO have?

None. Almost zero trade value, or at the very least, less than a 2nd.

Having a $2M 4C whose Dzone coverage makes you want to stick forks in your eyes and has a historically low FO% is only slightly less ridiculous than a 4RW who makes $1.5MM and makes everyone around him worse.

Move him now, upgrade with Belanger at 3C and downgrade at 4C from Fraser to a rookie or Gilbert (if he recovers from the plague)

You bleed at the less important position, upgrade at a more important position and maximize value on 13.

Its true he would've been much handier to have around when the injury bug hits and woe is all of us if 2 C's go down, but that is a reasonable gamble given the expectations on the year.

For the record I don't re-sign Jones and keep Cogliano and worry about his value later, but given the idiotic contract to Jones, you have to make this move with 13.

Ryan Jones. The millstone is just starting to weigh on the roster.

Black Dog said...

Woodguy - that's a reasonable take on the situation for sure

Scott Reynolds said...

I'll admit up front that I see more in Cogliano than most. He made his share of mistakes for sure, but I think that he improved substantially in the DZ, and was actually quite good positionally in the OZ. He was pretty decent on the PK too, which is something that the Oilers need. FO's were an issue, but if he's willing to move over to the wing to start the year - and with Nugent-Hopkins, Gagner, Horcoff, and Belanger around for the forseeable, he'd be a fool not to agree - that gives you a very versatile player on the fourth line who never gets hurt, ready and extremely motivated when someone gets injured in the top nine. With the way guys get injured in this league, he wouldn't be on the fourth line for long.

Does that role diminish his value some? Sure. But the difference between a 2nd and a (say) 3rd isn't much if they do in fact move him, and instead of sitting on a pick for a year or two, you're actually getting some value out of the asset at the NHL level (and in terms of the QO, he wouldn't be getting a 10% bump, just whatever his salary was over again, so $2M = $2M).

Bottom line for me is that he's a good player to have around if the team is hoping to win some games, and it gives them some margin for error if the prospects aren't as good as they thought, or one of the men in the top nine struggles, or guys go down. It's not that this trade is terrible. It's really not bad at all, and I'm certainly not upset about this outcome. But it's a trade that's all about maximizing value in the future rather than using what they have now to give themselves the best chance to win. That may well be the right play for the Oilers at this time, but my goodness I hope it's not the right play for too much longer.

Woodguy said...

But it's a trade that's all about maximizing value in the future rather than using what they have now to give themselves the best chance to win


Given the state of the D and G, the best chance to win now isn't in the front of their minds.

If the actually do want to win now, then they are blind to what they actually have.

The Oilers M.O. since 06 has been:

-put players in positions that are above their established NHL level
-watch them fail or struggle
-wonder what went wrong
-trade away more actual NHL players for more players who will struggle.

Rinse then fucking repeat....well at least until "clarity" set in, buy how they see their D and G doesn't seem to clear to me.