Gagner (and Cogs)

Don Cherry and a few good men. This a photo of some importance for Oilers fans: L-R are Steve Downie, Andrew Cogliano, Sam Gagner, Dick Cherry’s brother, James Neal and Ryan O’Marra. Photo is from January 6, 2007.

In the post below, speeds made some very interesting comments in regard to Sam Gagner’s chances of making the big club. To quote speeds “The franchise may be better off long term by playing Gagner from 20-27 instead of 18-25, but it sure seems to me like the Oilers management are really trying to compete this year. If Gagner is the best option, I don’t think it’s crazy to suggest that EDM might keep him around, at least for a harmless 9 game look (WRT CBA and UFA implications) to see if he can truly make a difference in the club’s playoff chances for this year.”

Good points all. The Oilers are looking for instant offense for the “big 5″ (Horcoff, Penner, Hemsky, Stoll, Torres) and finding it in house (and not using Pisani) gives the Oilers a better chance of playing the opposition to a standstill during the 3-4 time (Pisani being the main cog).

How far fetched IS this idea? We’re not talking the entire season, but (as pointed out in the quote above) a 9 game look-see in order to make certain he’s not the guy. The Oilers have after all proven beyond a shadow of a doubt this off-season that they will sacrifice the future for a less than 100-cent-on-the-dollar payback in an all out effort to grab 8th place in the spring.

How does Gagner compare to the other young men talked about as possible solutions to the Oilers lack of skill depth at F? Desjardins’ loves him:

  1. Gagner: 82gp, 16-39-55 (17) (OHL)
  2. Slava Trukhno: 10-29-39 (19) (QMJHL)
  3. Robert Nilsson 82gp, 10-27-37 (21) (AHL)
  4. Andrew Cogliano 17-19-36 (19) (NCAA)
  5. Rob Schremp 82gp, 10-21-31 (20) (AHL)
  6. Ryan O’Marra: 14-13-27 (19) (OHL)

We have to factor in ATOI and powerplay time. Gagner played for the London Knights, who we know from the Schremp days tend to roll their top guns a lot compared to anywhere else there are pucks and sticks. Still, that’s a nice gap there and from what we read Gagner didn’t quite get the Schremp minutes.

Another factor is Desjardins’ numbers themselves. I used average numbers over a period of years (or actually Gabriel did) so there’s no allowance for specific spikes in seasons (OHL scored 5,073 goals in 1,360 games, 3.73 per team per game or 7.46 per game, while the Q scored 4,791 goals in 1,260 games, 3.80 per team per game or 7.60 per game, and yet the OHL number is .3 and the Q number is .28 above).

Might as well do the rest, the AHL number is 6,471 goals in 2,160 games, which is 2.96 per team per game or 5.99 per game, and the NCAA division Cogliano played in scored 1,471 goals in 484 games, which is 3.03 per team per game or 6.08 per game, but the AHL number is .47 for Robert Nilsson and .33 for Cogliano. This implies that Cogliano’s number is completely unfair based on his performance in a league that saw a goal about as often as the AHL but Desjardins did the study based on a ton of previous performances in each league so it should average out over a bunch of seasons.

Okay, now I’m talking myself into Cogliano. If we use the AHL number (.49 for 20-year olds) Cogliano’s season becomes 25-28-53 NHLE (and this is without taking Michigan’s number out which would make it almost an exact match for the AHL last season 2.93) and he’s pretty much spot on where Gagner is in NHLE and we can know from reading that the top Michigan line was Hensick-Porter-Rohlfs.

Back to the original subject. CAN Gagner pass all these other kids during camp? It’s possible, especially if no one else comes in and impresses right away. As speeds mentioned he is going to have a head start from the international tournament. I can’t put a number on his chances, but it clearly is not zero.

And Cogliano’s chances are way better than 10%. Way better.

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19 Responses to "Gagner (and Cogs)"

  1. godot10 says:

    Gagner was one of the youngest players in the draft…a July or August birthdate, which means it would be insanity to play him this year in the NHL. He needs to physically mature.

    If he were born a month or two later, he would be competing with Stamkos for #1 overall next summer.

  2. uni says:

    With the Oilers bringing in Rob Daum it looks like a minor league coach who’s paid his dues is getting a shot at coaching in the big leagues. And I was starting to talk myself into Esa or Glenn haha.

    Nilsson is guy I really like for some reason. All the early scouting reports mentioned he isn’t without grit, so here’s hoping he surprises all of us and makes the search for a number 6 scoring forward moot.

  3. jon says:

    Nilsson is the one who will get the chance based on a combination of age/experience and asset management by Lowe. A player of his age and pedigree who fails to make an NHL roster on a non-playoff team has no value whatsoever to the Oilers or any other NHL team. In the eyes of management he has to play simply for the reason the Lowe that will need to justify him as an asset in the return for Ryan Smyth. Think of him as Smid pt II but with less reason for optimism.

  4. Lowetide says:

    jon: MacT has sent more than a few guys just like Nilsson to the minors, so I don’t know that “he simply has to play.”

    Having said that, I agree he’s the guy to bet on going in.

  5. PunjabiOil says:

    Like Oilerdiehard, I’m also a big fan of Cogliano. I have no doubts on him being a fulltime NHler – it’s his offensive output that is questionable.

    Godot10 – good point on Gagner being one of the youngest players in the draft.

    Uni – Rob Daum coached with the Houston Aeros, the wild AHL affiliate. Don’t know why he got canned in only a year or so – his team did seem strong.

    LT – “MacT has sent more than a few guys just like Nilsson to the minors”


    On the same note, I thought the Oilers somewhat killed Jani Rita’s development by mismanaging him. He initially was getting called up, and he was putting the puck in net. Then sparingly, he’d get called up, and when he did, he’s play with Scott Fergueson (a defenceman) on the 4th line for 1 or 2 games, then back to the minors. Eventually the Oilers gave Rita a one-way contract in 2005, but by that time, the confidence in his game was no longer there. MacT didn’t really inspire a lot of Confidence in him either, going public with ”this is his last shot”, etc.

    I’d like to give a rookie a honest shot this time around.

  6. speeds says:

    The “problem” with a smart player like Gagner is if you play him with good players he may produce.

    It’ll be interesting to see his training camp.

    Gagner, Trukhno, Pouliot, Cogliano, Grebeshkov, Gilbert…

    Well, there are a lot of guys that will be interesting to follow.

  7. Aaron Paquette says:

    off topic:

    Out of curiosity, was the 05-06 Oilers team considered a SCF club in August ’05?

  8. oilerdiehard says:

    I am big on Cogs. I watched about 20 of his games last year. He really turned it up hard in the second half of the season – especially his goal scoring.

    Red Berenson is very traditional with his ice time from what I saw and the seniors like the line of Hensick got heavy ice time. Cogs got regular rotation but quite moderate amounts of ice and really made the most of his ice IMO.

    One thing I liked at the rookie conditioning camp. You usually get the well I will try to work hard and hopefully get a call up. Cogliano said something to the effect I am here to make the Oilers but the AHL may be a reality for me. Instead of the work hard bit he said something like if I am sent down I plan to go down there and dominate and force my way up to the big team as soon as possible.

  9. dawgbone says:

    PO… Jani Rita killed his development, not the Oilers.

    Yeah, he had the 12 game stretch (in a row) where he scored 3 goals in 12 games (which started a big thing on HF how his pro-rated totals worked out to 21 goals and he was legit).

    The next training camp, he comes into the inital stages of camp and looks like Mark Messier scoring from everywhere, gaining rave reviews… then as camp goes on, and he gets into exhibition games, he slowly disappears. As more and more real NHL players step into the lineups, he does less and less before getting sent to Toronto.

    It was there that he started disappearing for long stretches of time (talking several games without making anything resembling a play), and got completely passed by Tony Salmelainen.

    The fact of the matter is, not once did Jani Rita really deserve a legitimate chance in the NHL. He screwed himself over by rather playing the 4th line in Finland for 2 years as opposed to getting into the AHL and playing a more substantial role.

  10. Black Dog says:

    aaron – nope they were picked to fight for the seventh or eighth playoff spot, which they did

    should really be an exciting camp this season

  11. Barry says:

    It will depend upon injuries of course but I don’t see anyone other than Nilson, Jacques and Stortini making it out of training camp as the last forward. If a regular is banged up Brodziak will make it.

    With the likes of Minni, the Ducks, the Canucks, and Calgary on the regular sched. the Oil are going to need toughness.

    If Jacques can have a few point shots bounce off his ass into the net he will become real useful. He is my favourite for that last spot.

    I see Ryan Flinn getting more games than Cogs, Gagne or Shrempt – at least in the first half of the season. He will be brought up to try to deal with the Boogaards of the world.

    If I am Lowe I try to get guys going in the AHL with Shrempt, Cogs, Trukhno, O’Mara, Nilson, and maybe MacDonald making a nice young core that might develop some chemistry. These guys all need to play – lots. Sitting in the press box or playing 6 minutes a night is not going to do them any good.

  12. jon says:

    LT: It’s true that MacT has made decisions based on results rather than pedigree in the past, but what of last season? We saw Lupul get top 5 ES minutes despite it becoming obvious very quickly that he was a black hole of suck and Smid get played above Hejda despite the very large gap in experience, physical development, and usefulness. I think it’s very possible that MacT deviated from his own habits for the purposes of optics and I still don’t think that the following year will afford him the luxury to revert just yet.

  13. Aaron Paquette says:

    BG: thanks. How I would love it if this team could claw their way into 8th spot again next spring!

    Is that sentiment the reason the Maple Leafs have never gotten back to the glory days?

  14. Ribs says:

    Sam Gagner in first would be a slap in the face to Rob Schremp.

    Ain’t gonna happen.

  15. momentai says:


    While it is likely that there was some pressure from the top in terms of personnel decisions on guys like Smid and Lupul, I really do think it was MacT’s call.

    It’s certainly not out of the realm of possibility that MacT was just trying to garner some usefulness out of Lupul by hanging him with the big guns. If he could adapt and adapt quickly, the team gets better and in a hurry. MacT forcefed Hemsky those kinds of minutes 2 seasons ago after all and he was the better player for it.

    MacT sometimes fast-tracks some players in order to test their mettle. Sometimes it works… (Hemsky) and sometimes it fails (Lupul). But in our situation last season, it wasn’t that bad of a gamble.

  16. PunjabiOil says:

    PO… Jani Rita killed his development, not the Oilers.
    Disagree. While Rita has to shoulder some responsibility, he was one prospect the organization should have handled better.

    While he ”only” put up 5 pts in his first 12 games, that’s besides the point. The point is, he never got a consistent shot in the top 6, with proper linemates. Lesser players like Brian Swanson and Jason Chimera received their fair shots – with Rita, it was a ”get called up 2 games, get sent back down”

    Another guy the Oilers could have handled better was Mikhnov. Instead of giving him a 4-5 games, he was reduced to 2 games with only 2 short shifts each. Plenty of NHL players don’t struggle early on in their careers – the opportunity has to be legit.

  17. momentai says:

    PO: Our coaching staff has a pretty good track record with players. If they didn’t think Rita or Mikhnov deserved to get the icetime they did, I’m sure there was ample reasoning besides on ice play.

    Legitimate NHL shot or not, neither player really lit up the AHL either and this is coming from a big Rita supporter back in the day. One playoff series does not an AHL career make.

  18. Lowetide says:

    The Oilers really haven’t had anyone go away and become an impact player, certainly no Satan in MacT’s past.

    Cleary’s a player, Chimera gets 500 at-bats a year. But is there really a prospect they’ve sent away since MacT got here who has made the Oilers look foolish?

    One thing is sure: it isn’t Rita.

  19. IceDragoon says:

    Jani Rita… *sigh*

    In TCs ’02 & ’03 he started out playing with Reasoner and looked like pure gold. Once they were split up he started looking lost, and as the pressure ramped up he appeared to want to hide. Dare I suggest that he convinced himself he couldn’t cut it? ;-)

    Oh, and…

    Go Cogs!!!

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