Andrew Cogliano just needed a little patience, and he received plenty of it from the Oilers. Although at times he could have and should have been given more minutes, he was never banished to the press box or the nether regions of the minor leagues where prospects go to wither and die.
He was groomed steadily at the NHL level, never missing a game over the past four seasons, and yet still the Oilers were left waiting on Cogliano’s first 20-goal season after he was selected in the first round (25th overall) in 2005. Now that patience has finally worn thin, and Cogliano will continue his development elsewhere.
Edmonton has traded Cogliano to Anaheim for a second round pick in the 2013 draft, according to the Globe and Mail’s James Mirtle. Cogliano’s opportunities in Edmonton were dwindling as he continued to fall short of his potential, and the Oilers were forced to make a decision this summer and assess his future with the franchise as he became a restricted free agent.
Along with Sam Gagner–the Oilers’ sixth overall pick in 2007–Cogliano was set to be part of the Edmonton’s youthful core before some other guys named Hall, Eberle, and Paajarvi came along. The separation between Cogliano and Gagner lies in sheer consistency.
While neither has been spectacular offensively, Gagner has strung together four straight 40-point seasons, showing flashes of the promise and potential the organization expected, and he celebrates just his 21st birthday in August. In contrast, Cogliano’s career path has been one that began with a boom, and was then followed by a prolonged bout of stagnant mediocrity (I nearly used the word “bust” there, but at the age of 24 it’s still too early for that label). Cogliano has 57 NHL goals, but 36 of them came in his first two seasons. He’s flirted with the 40-point mark but never cracked the plateau, and his 28-point output in 2009-10 was particularly disappointing. This past season he scored just 11 goals and finished with 35 points.
There’s still plenty of time for the two-time World Junior gold medalist to improve, but as our own Jonathan Willis pointed out earlier this past season, the death of Cogliano’s career is quickening. He’s a tremendous skater, but the 20-game splits Willis dug up show anything but a linear approach to the offensive end of the rink.
Initially part of the Dany Heatley trade to Edmonton that Heatley turned down because he’s Dany Heatley, Edmonton’s frustrations grew and Cogliano became expendable due to the influx of young forwards that has continued with the drafting of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.
Optimistic voices have often advocated for a change in locale for Cogliano, saying that a new NHL outpost would re-energize his fledgling career. We’ll find out in October.