Cornet Gets Large. But In Charge? Maybe

Photo courtesy of Rob Ferguson. All rights reserved.

Philippe Cornet. A bastion of hope that the Oilers farm club is indeed churning out future NHLers. Or not. Today, the Oil announced the recall of recent AHL All-Star, Philippe Cornet. The 2008 fifth rounder is the Barons only current 20 goal scorer. He’s riding a shooting percentage of nearly 33%. He plays on what is considered the top scoring line for the Barons. Thus, on paper, he has deserved a callup. And for as bad as the Oilers have played lately, finding a young spark might do the big club some good. But there is more to the Cornet story than just a nice, slightly erroneous score sheet. A healthy dose of perspective is needed.

Coming out of camp, Cornet was the most impressive returnee. He bulked up and sped up in the off season. In October, I picked him to be my darkhorse showman this season. Indeed, through nearly 40 games he’s done me a solid.

Cornet has found top line combos for the first half of the season. He’s usually centered by Mark Arcobello or Josh Green, two guys that are beyond solid at that position in the minor leagues. They are natural players makers as well. You place Hartikainen in that same spot and he’s probably a 20 goal guy at the midway point as well (He still might have been if not for the shoulder injury). Now there’s nothing scientifically accurate to prove this point, but my eyes tell me that Cornet is getting top line treatment with really solid playmakers around him. Is Cornet successful by association? I believe that he is.

Here’s his stats:

Indeed, he’s ultimately the one that has to finish the play. He’s the one responsible for sticking that puck in the back of the net. However, if we expect him to produce similar results at the major league level, he’d need the same supporting cast (UPDATE: He’s playing w/ Gagner & Eberle. That’s a solid line for Cornet to find success). However, we’ll probably find young Cornet deeper in the roster where he’ll likely get abused. Lost in the mix is his timidity with the puck outside of the scoring chance box. He’s just not really a strong or confident puck handler. He’s also defensively saggy. His determination to be in the crease, in front of the goaltender, causes him to be behind when the puck is turned over, and rushed up ice. That brings us to that thing about the crease. He is indeed a goaltenders nightmare. He loves to park his frame directly in front of the net or to one side. He has quick hands and quick smarts, but sometimes these things aren’t motoring at the same time. He is what he is. A sophomore playing on solid lines with a little bit of luck thrown in.

I hope he settles in nicely. The Oilers need to add something positive to their bag of tools. Cornet might not be the correct tool, but with a chance and some sharpening, he might turn out to be a great option.