It comes as a moderate surprise that Andrew Cogliano was dealt yesterday to the Anaheim Ducks for a second round pick in 2013. Cogliano gets a fresh start with a team that’s had some success with the Ducks, while the Oilers avoid what could have been a rather uncomfortable arbitration number. Here’s hoping Cogliano gets his big break with the Ducks in 2011-12.
While we wish Cogliano all the best in California, what does his movement do for the top four centres back in Edmonton? Rather, who are the top four centres back in Edmonton?
It was a good time for a beer when we heard Ryan Smyth was on his way back home to the franchise he rose to prominence with, but too easily we forget that it took Colin Fraser (and almost Gilbert Brule) to get him here. While that doesn’t seem like a whole lot of change on the dollar, there are now two centres that were Oilers in 2010-11 that are no longer with the club.
Signing Eric Belanger shores up some of that gap, but where does that leave the team down the middle 2011-12?
Here’s how it should look (as of today…)
1. Shawn Horcoff: I’ve seen some pretty…uh, “interesting” discussions that RNH should open the season up on the first line along with last year’s youth movement. And for a shinny match against the pipefitters union, I think that’s a great idea. If the idea is to win games at the NHL level (and not get the kids mugged), that’s a terrible idea – not to mention the simple fact you’ll lose a year of RNH’s entry-level contract if he plays more than nine games on the season. You’ve got a captain that is *the* logical option to slot as your 1C, he finished second on the team in faceoffs in 2010-11. Slot Horc between Hemsky and Ryan Smyth and turn back the clock.
2. Sam Gagner: Here’s another guy that everyone needs to take a deep breath on. Sam Gagner is 21 years old. TWENTY ONE. He’ll be twenty two in August. Your patience is running thin with him because he’s been one of the most visible faces since after the Oilers had their cup run. In case you’ve just joined us, the past five years haven’t been all that kind to Oiler fans. There’s a real live NHL player under this kid’s skin, you ought to see it. 42 points (15G-27A) in 68 games likely translates to 50+ when he’s healthy. Fifty points for a number 2 centre isn’t all that bad a thing. If Gagner can tighten up a little on his D, he’ll be just fine in 2011-12.
3. Eric Belanger: There’s no reason this guy doesn’t get filled into 3C. If I had two of him, he’d be three and four. Belanger was brought to the club to address a terribly needed position in a bottom six guy who can win faceoffs. I’ve seen the argument somewhere along the line about how guys that win faceoffs aren’t such a big deal. And I agree somewhat – I don’t think it’s applicable in this case because the Oilers haven’t had a guy on the bottom six that can win faceoffs in a few years. Forty points last year in Phoenix (13G-27A) coming in on a three year term at responsible money.
4. Here’s where it gets tricky. Right now, it could be one of a couple players. Anton Lander might get the start in OKC, but it wouldn’t be all that shocking to see him at 4C this year. If Gilbert Brule can put past him that he was nearly traded for Ryan Smyth last month, you might see him on 4C. Club could get wily and make another Colin Fraser style signing this year. This is one that I don’t have a concrete answer for. And no, don’t even think of slotting RNH here to play 4C minutes with Ryan Jones and Ben Eager. I saw that look in your eye.
Anyone think anyone other than Horc-Gagner-Belanger should be 1-2-3?
Who’s your 4C?
I don’t know. Third base.
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