The best player I ever saw skate for the Leafs was this man, Dave Keon. If you look at his stats and never saw him play it might be a mystery.
Dave Keon was an amazing skater, and because of it was a splendid forechecker and an out-of-this-world penalty killer. On April 13, 1963 Dave Keon became the first player to score two shorthanded goals in a playoff game.
Keon had an amazing backhand and could pass and make a pass on the fly with stunning consistency. He was, in many ways, the perfect player.
I always loved to watch Keon penalty kill. He was so fast and read plays so well that teams often had a terrible time getting out of their own end. Keon was also textbook when it came to bodychecking. A small player (even for his era), Keon completed his checks and made certain that the passer was not an available option for those very important seconds after a pass. I remember seeing him do that to both defenders on the penalty kill and still being able to get back in time to make plays in his own zone.
He was a beauty.
Andrew Cogliano has many of the qualities Keon possessed: wonderful foot speed, an ability to read plays and he’s a fine passer too. I don’t know Cogliano’s “hockey IQ” but do know the Oilers measure intelligence in drafting and that Cogliano is one of the “off the charts” fellows (along with Gagner and a couple of others).
I’ve felt for a long time that Cogliano will belong to the “Dave Keon-Ralph Backstrom-Butch Goring” family of undersized centers who have a wide range of skills. This season has been difficult for him and his secondary numbers are not progressing as we had all hoped they would during his second season.
As a rookie, Cogliano improved markedly on his boxcars from the first to second half:
- First 41: 7-12-19 (.463) -6
- Second 41: 11-15-26 (.634) +7
His 5×5/60 point total was 2.28 and Desjardins estimated that during Cogliano’s rookie season he was a -11.7 Corsi while playing softer opposition with secondary linemates. His GF/GA ON a year ago was 41-42.
This year he’s not showing the same trends in the second half:
- First 41: 12-10-22 (.537) -1
- Second 23: 3-7-10 (.435) -4
Cogliano’s 5×5/60 is down (1.78) but not a disaster, his Corsi has improved to -3.5 and it looks to me like he’s batting in the same spot in the order as we was a year ago (in terms of toughness and linemates). Cogliano’s 5×5/60 GF/GA ON is 27-28 this season.
I think he’s made a little progress and he is most certainly a valuable young player. I do believe the Oilers should use him (as Keon was used) as a prime penalty killing option for this team. It should be a role he can fill easily and that will have an impact on Shawn Horcoff’s minutes. However, the trade for Patrick O’Sullivan seems to have been (partly) designed to take those Horcoff PK minutes, so perhaps there’s something we’re not seeing from this end in regard to Cogs on the PK.
There’s also a few chapters to write in this season and Cogliano has been the most consistent of the young guns. Should he get hot (as Sam Gagner appears to be doing now) we may be able to begin slotting him in somewhere along the axis of the Dave Keon family.
And that is a helluva family of hockey players.