Cogliano keeping cool

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:30 AM ET

COLUMBUS — Andrew Cogliano tried agonizing over a season gone stale.

Didn’t work.

He tried laying awake at night, worrying about his future with the Edmonton Oilers.

That didn’t work, either.

All it got him was tired and stressed.

So he figured to hell with it, just play and let the future take care of itself.

“Mentally, I exhausted myself over the course of the year,” said the 22-year-old forward. “I was beating myself up over it, trying to figure out what was the problem.

“Now I’m just loose. I’m at the point where I’m just playing, really not thinking about the last few months. If things happen my way, they do. If not, I’ll continue to play hard and hopefully turn it around next season.

“It’s a very relaxed mode for me; I’m just taking another approach other than constantly going over everything mentally.”

After back-to-back 18-goal seasons as a key member of the Oilers’ Kid Line, he became the forgotten stepchild this season.

Always overlooked when the team is searching for somebody to round out their top six forwards, Cogliano has most often been relegated to the third or fourth line, seeing little or no (mostly no) power play time.

“It’s hard, but you have to work through things like that, it’s not an excuse,” he said.

“When you’re put in a certain role, you have to adapt. If you’re playing in the bottom six (forwards) or on the fourth line, you can’t pretend you’re on the top line.

“If they’re asking you to go hit, to go dump the puck in, then that’s what you do.”

For a player who’d never struggled before at any level, it was a pretty significant jolt. This, for a guy whose confidence was already rattled before the season even started when he learned about being served up in the failed Dany Heatley trade.

“I’ve never been in a situation (struggling trade bait) like that in my career, so mentally I was a little screwed up,” said Cogliano, who could never really exhale until the trade deadline came and went.

“I was exhausting myself to the point that it was affecting my play.”

His future is still unclear here, as the Oilers need to make a decision on him before the end of the season.

Is he in the rebuilding plans or not? If so, what kind of player does management want him to be?

The coaching staff has been asked to play him at centre, on a good line.

So far, so good. Moved to the first line between Dustin Penner and Gilbert Brule two games ago, Cogliano has two goals and an assist in the two starts and is coming off one of his best games of the season Saturday, in front of friends and family in Toronto.

“With the opportunity you hopefully can seize the moment,” said the former first-round draft pick (25th overall in 2005). “I’m just trying to take the opportunity and run with it.”

Where it leads him remains to be seen. With the likes of Jordan Eberle and Taylor Hall or Tyler Seguin arriving soon, securing a top-six spot should only get tougher. Reinventing himself as a two-way forward who can kick in 20 goals a year is realistic, though.

“I think it’s a situation where the organization is trying to find out who they want for the long haul,” he said.

“I don’t think they look at me as a 30-40 goal guy. You have to be realistic about what you can do.

“But I’ve taken steps in parts of the game I never have before, like playing gritty, my faceoffs are better, playing a more sound game.

“And I’m confident I always will have the offensive ability to score close to 20 goals a year.

“That’s what I’ve been saying to myself, I’ve done it before. It wasn’t a fluke.”

robert.tychkowski@sunmedia.ca


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