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I don’t know that I’ve ever found a picture that so neatly conveys the title of a post before.

In any case, it isn’t easy to remember now, but there was a time not long ago when Andrew Cogliano was a very highly regarded young NHL’er.  He was the Oilers’ first round pick back in 2005 after ripping up the OPJHL, and his performance over two seasons at the University of Michigan was solid.  It didn’t hurt that he was part of two gold medal winning Canadian entries at the World Juniors.

Cogliano’s rookie season as a professional started impressively, with the 20 year-old winning an NHL job out of training camp.  18 goals and 45 points later, Cogliano had seemingly established himself as part of Edmonton’s next wave, along with linemates Sam Gagner and Robert Nilsson.  Then-G.M. Kevin Lowe raved, “We probably had our best development year in 12 or 15 years.”

It’s been downhill since then. 

 

Cogliano dropped from 45 points to 38 in 2008-09, and was part of the botched Dany Heatley trade the summer after.  Last season, his offence took 60 games to show up, and while he went on a good run down the stretch it raised questions about what kind of offensive player he was going to be.

20 games later, with a single goal and a fresh crop of rookies to compete with for time on an offensive line, it looks a lot like Andrew Cogliano’s career as an Edmonton Oiler, and possibly as an offensive option at the NHL level, is coming to a close.

I was curious to see how this 20 game segment of Cogliano’s career compared to what had come before, so I went back and broke down his NHL career into quarter-seasons.  Here’s the result:

 

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Period GP G A PTS +/-
2007-08, 1st Qtr. 20 4 8 12 1
2007-08, 2nd Qtr. 21 3 4 7
2007-08, 3rd Qtr. 20 2 7 9 0
2007-08, 4th Qtr. 21 9 8 17 7
2008-09, 1st Qtr. 20 4 4 8 -1
2008-09, 2nd Qtr. 21 8 6 14 0
2008-09, 3rd Qtr. 20 2 7 9 -4
2008-09, 4th Qtr. 21 4 3 7 -1
2009-10, 1st Qtr. 20 3 5 8 2
2009-10, 2nd Qtr. 21 1 1 2 lor="#000000">1
2009-10, 3rd Qtr. 20 1 2 3 -11
2009-10, 4th Qtr. 21 5 10 15 3
2010-11, To Date 20 1 3 4 -11
Average: 20 4 5 9 color="#000000">-2

Over the previous 12 quarter-seasons, Cogliano’s been offensively inept.  Both of those took place last season.  Prior to that, he’d never failed to score at least seven points over a 20 game segment.  I don’t think it’s a coincidence that those segments have all come while Cogliano’s been stuck playing with an ugly assortment of wingers as the Oilers’ third line centre.

It’s a role that Cogliano’s uniquely unsuited for; despite his speed, he’s never shown ability at the NHL level to handle defensive assignments, and he certainly isn’t capable of carrying players like Ethan Moreau, Gilbert Brule or Ryan Jones while he does it.

At the outset, I suggested Cogliano’s time as an Oiler is coming to a close, and that’s almost certainly true.  The attempted trade, the other trade rumours (it has been suggested that Tambellini shopped him at the draft), and the way the spotlight has shifted to other rookies even as Cogliano slid down the depth chart all support that point of view.

Cogliano’s value is at an all-time low; after all, the three worst quarters of his career have all taken place in the last 82 games.  The important question is whether that means he’s nearing the end of the line at 23 years of age, or whether he’s in a rather prolonged slump that isn’t going to last.  Given that he’s been miscast as a defensive centre on one of the league’s worst teams for the last season and a bit, I’d argue that taking a chance on him might pay off richly.