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The Progress Report: Cogs in the Wheelhouse

by Ryan Dittrick / Edmonton Oilers
Andrew Cogliano (Photo by Andy Devlin / EOHC).

For Andrew Cogliano, the 2010-11 season began with the revitalized attitude that the entire Edmonton Oilers organization was preaching.

After signing a one-year contract prior to training camp, Cogliano identified the opportunity to resurrect his young career. It was a chance to turn things around and establish his name as one of the team’s core building blocks moving forward.

Much like teammate Sam Gagner, Cogliano struggled following an impressive rookie campaign that saw him record 18 goals and 45 points over the course of the 2007-08 schedule.

In a season that Cogliano would prefer to forget, the 2009-10 campaign saw him collect a mere 10 goals and 28 points. Combined with the team's 30th place finish in the standings, the disappointment needed to be washed away with a successful rebound.

As the 2010-11 season began in October, a renewed sense of optimism was experienced across Oil Country. The infusion of fresh faces and talented rookies further emphasized the desire to build a champion through youth and development. It was a chance for everyone in the organization to rebuild its image and emerge as something more.

Cogliano, now considered a veteran at only 23-years of age, recognized the opportunity and challenges that were ahead. With an increase in supreme offensive skill being placed on the roster, he needed to make the most of his early opportunities. After all, there are only so many minutes to be shared among top-six forwards.

Cogliano’s start to the new era, unfortunately, trotted on a similar path to last season; 20 games into the campaign and the speedster had only registered one goal and four points. After the season’s opening quarter, Cogliano was on pace to collect an even lower point-total than the season prior.

What separates Cogliano from a lot of young players is that his mental focus and drive to succeed is an unrelenting component of his daily practice habits. Although he was struggling to find traction in one of the most difficult stretches of his NHL career, he viewed the challenge as an opportunity to increase his compete level and rediscover his proud two-way ability.

At practice, Cogliano would mark the untouched surface at Rexall Place before many of his teammates -- starting the day early and staying late to finish his homework. He was driven to improve and return to his rookie form as a dependable offensive weapon by extending his practice time by as much as he could physically handle.

When the calendar turned to 2011, the dedicated practice time appeared to pay dividends; bounces began to go his way, with his goal-scoring touch again coming to the forefront on the back of the aforementioned passion at practice.

Confidence appears to be key. While ice-time in the top six is most certainly limited, successful stretches have earned him greater responsibility in an offensive capacity. Since Dec. 30 when the Oilers fell 4-2 to Buffalo, Cogliano has produced six goals and 14 points in the following 22-game stretch.

His numbers have not only exceeded his earlier quarter-season stretch, but this 14-point tally has emerged as his most productive sequence since his rookie campaign.

The marked improvement has translated to his defensive game as well. In that same 22-game series, Cogliano has established a plus-one rating; quite the contrast to his earlier stretch that saw him run at a clip of minus-13.

As one of the Oilers’ hottest offensive weapons at the moment, Cogliano has been given the opportunity that he’s long desired. Now counted on in an offensive role between Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle, Cogliano continues to make the most his chance as he looks to firmly establish his role on this rebuilding squad.

After enduring the tough battle with confidence over the past few seasons, his recent turnaround can be attributed to a number of his unique qualities; passion to succeed, drive and determination to better his game, and the unremitting pride in being an Oiler.

Author: Ryan Dittrick |
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