James argument in regard to rookies went like this: if you can find (in history) a player who delivered similar offense in similar circumstances at a similar age while playing a similar position, you can gain a general idea about the rookie’s future.
His findings were incredible. Through him we know that age is the single largest consideration in these things. If a player can do at 20 what a 21 year old did, then even that one year makes a world of difference in terms of peak value and sustain.
Which brings us to Sam Gagner. At 18-years old he is having a very similar season to Ales Hemsky at 19-years old. I’ve mentioned this a few times but Gagner has now played just about a season (certainly Hemsky’s season as a rookie) and we can get a terrific look at the two teenagers at this very instant.
Let’s compare the boxcar numbers:
- Hemsky (59gp, 6-24-30)
- Gagner (58gp, 6-25-31)
Pretty damn close. Okay, let’s compare their EV/60 point totals:
- Hemsky (6-15-21 in 557 mins)2.26
- Gagner (5-17-22 in 621.19 mins) 1.91
Edge Hemsky, but maybe by less than imagined when we consider the numbers in context. Here are the numbers for each with GF totals for their respective teams and their % contribution to the offense:
- Hemsky (21/157, 13.3%)
- Gagner (22/103, 21.3%)
Gagner has been a bleeder at EVs, but with the bat in his hand I’d say you could reasonably argue he has had more of an impact for his team than Hemsky did in 02-03.
Now let’s look at the powerplay:
- Hemsky (0-9-9 in 153.21mins)3.52
- Gagner (1-8-9 in 141.21mins)3.81
Marginal difference here, there’s no real edge to either player. Let’s look at how they compare in terms of overall offense for their respective teams with the man advantage:
- Hemsky (9/56, 16.1%)
- Gagner (9/41, 22%)
Gagner has played similar minutes on the PP, gotten similar results and has done it for a team that is more offensively challenged than Hemsky’s rookie team. I do not have enough evidence either way to argue each player’s case in terms of quality of linemates or soft opposition, so will argue only the points available to me. Also, it’s always a good idea to approach these comparisons with caution. I think there is some evidence that Sam Gagner at 18-years old is comparable to Ales Hemsky at 19.
If that is true, then it might be fair to suggest we are looking at a superior player.