Comps

That’s Wayne Cashman and some other guy playing in the OHA, mid-1960s. Both of these fellows had fine major league careers but only one helps us in discussing “comparables.” Wayne Cashman is a nice comp for a player like Ryan Smyth in that they played a similar gritty style and had enough skill to play and succeed on their team’s top lines.

I first learned about comparables from the great baseball writer Bill James. The brilliance of James was NOT in the math (his statistical theories were often tweaked becase they didn’t “look right” and modified until they did) but in the questions asked and then answered logically.

James asked himself “what if we could take a current MLB rookie, find a similar player from baseall history, apply the template of the older player’s career to the new one and come out with a better understanding of the current rookie?” and then set out to do just that thing.

If you apply the right things, it actually works well. For hockey, I always make certain that the age, league they play in, and of course position and approximate skill set (as described in scouting reports) is about the same. Unlike James, I rarely do this with NHL rookies because it’s my opinion that we can get a nice read on a player before that and then see what the results are going forward.

On HFboards and then this blog, I’ve gone into detail about specific comps (Winchester=Lacouture, Pouliot=Stoll, Schremp=Nilsson, Gagner=Hemsky) but they’ve been fractured and lacked cohesion.

Today I’m going to take the December Oilers Top 20 (link to your right on this blog) and post the best available comp currently. It’s important to know that some of these aren’t mine, many of the readers of this blog and other blogs have identified the names below.

  1. Sam Gagner: The best old timey comp I’ve found so far is Vincent Damphousse. As a 17-year old junior, Damphousse scored at an identical level to Gagner at the same age (2.25 to Gagner’s 2.23). Damphousse’s team scored 406 goals to Gagner’s 301, so it’s probably safe to say they were either similar talents or Gagner was slightly ahead at the same age. Either way, on their respective draft days both men were considered to be among the very best talents available. As an 18-year old NHL player Damphousse scored 80gp, 21-25-46 (.575 points-per-game) compared to Gagner’s 73gp, 12-35-47 (.644 points-per-game). Damphousse was on a team that scored 3.57 goals-per game, Gagner’s club is averaging 2.88 so we can again draw the same conclusion (similar talents orGagner slightly ahead at the same age). I also detailed the Ales Hemsky comparison here and although the numbers have changed the general thrust of the post is the same.
  2. Andrew Cogliano: It’s Butch Goring. Cogliano had a dip offensively during this season but Goring also lacked consistency (he was sent down in year two) but they are a wonderful match, probably my favorite one (I loved watching Butch Goring play). Goring as a rookie scored 59gp, 13-23-36 (.610 ppg) on a team that scored 2.21 goals-per-game, Cogliano is scoring 76gp, 16-25-41 (.539ppg) on a team that is scoring 2.88 gpg. Goring is a superior offensive player as a rookie and Cogliano may not end up being quite the offensive player Robert Goring was but I’m happy with this comp.
  3. Tom Gilbert: Finding a comp for Tom Gilbert is both easy and unnecessary. He’s 25, we already know what he is and the chances of him improving markedly are pretty much zero. Any spike in his numbers or performance will come from a change in role (PP) or after two or three years when he is established at the NHL level.
  4. Taylor Chorney: Defensemen are harder to find comps for, at least it’s difficult to marry two careers together on the blueline because injury has such an impact on these guys. Chorney is an undersized two way defender who can move the puck well and is responsible positionally (I suspect Ray Ferraro will be talking about “read and react” alot when Chorney arrives) with footspeed being a clear strength. Chorney’s numbers in the NCAA at age 20 (40gp, 3-21-24, .600ppg) come on a team that scores 3 goals per game. Brian Rafalski is a similar player type whose ppg (36gp, 6-17-23, .639ppg) came on a team that scored 4.1 goals per game. It’s important I think to remember that a lot of offense for defensemen relies on powerplay time and since we don’t have all of the special teams numbers any D comp is less reliable than the F group.
  5. Rob Schremp: The comps for Rob Schremp are not pleasant. Oiler fans have suggested that Mike Comrie is a good comp, but Comrie was scoring 33 goals and leading the Oilers in points at 21, while Rob Schremp is working on his skating in the minors. I’ve suggested Robert Nilsson might be a good comp (and they are numbers wise) but Nilsson’s speed make him a questionable comp for Robbie. No, I think we need to stay in his skillset and find an extreme offensive centerman whose speed had a major impact on his career. I’ve chosen Ron Chipperfield. Like Schremp, Ron Chipperfield dominated junior scoring but did not have the same success after turning pro. Despite being a famous junior scorer (162 points in 62gp in the WHL his draft year) he was chosen late in the first round (NOTE: One of the reasons for this was the NHL allowed underage players to be drafted for the first time in 1974) and pro success never really happened. In his rookie (WHA) season, he delivered 78gp, 19-20-39 which equals 78gp, 13-14-27 when run through Desjardins. Schremp’s age 20 NHLE was 78gp, 9-20-29 which is a pretty close match. For those who don’t remember Chipperfield, the Hockey News in 1974 ran any number of stories detailing his prowess on the PP. Also, from the Saturday, March 30th, 1974 TORONTO STAR: Ron Chipperfield: “effective rather than smooth skating and has uncanny puck sense. Some scouts claim he’ll face a large adjustment to pro hockey, but 80 goal shooters rate high draft spots.” Except he didn’t, falling deep into the first round.
  6. Kyle Brodziak: For many reasons, the best comp here is Jarret Stoll. Brodziak has overcome skating issues (like Stoll), had a big junior season (like Stoll) and ended up being picked by his NHL team after his official draft year (like Stoll). That last line is a bit of a stretch because Stoll was a re-entry but they do have lots in common. Stoll scored at a .710ppg clip in the AHL at 20 on a team that averaged 3.49 goals-per-game and Brodziak scored .571ppg at age 20 on a team that scored 2.51 goals-per-game. Stoll as an NHL rookie went 68gp, 10-11-21 .309 on a team that averaged 2.7 goals-per-game, Brodziak is 75gp, 13-13-26 .347 on a team that is averaging 2.88 gpg. Brodziak’s biggest difference is age, as he’s an NHL rookie (by my standards) at 23 (2 years older than Stoll). In September Showerhead wrote on this blog “I commented last year to some of my buddies that I got the same impression from Brodziak that I got from Horcoff and Stoll the first few times I saw them – one way or another, he is going to find a way to make himself useful.” That sounds about right.
  7. Riley Nash: The best comp for Nash is Chris Higgins. At 18 years old, Chris Higgins went 27gp, 14-17-31 at Yale (1.15ppg) on a team that averaged 3 goals-per-game. Nash went 36gp, 12-20-32 (.889) for Cornell who averaged 2.83 goals-per-game. For those of us wondering about the level of competition in the ECAC it should be noted that Higgins played another season at Yale, graduated to pro with a solid AHL season and followed it up with an even better one during the lockout year before becoming a consistent 20-goal man for the Habs. If Nash=Higgins, the Oilers scouting staff scored.
  8. Slava Trukhno: This fellow is going to be tough to find a comp for, because his stats this season are so extreme. If you’ve followed his season you know that Trukhno had a very poor start and then came on like gangbusters (7-8-15 in his last 11gp) in March. Much of his offense (9-10-19) has come on the PP and his EV stats (3-9-12) are pedestrian. His skill set says he will be a more well-rounded player should he make the NHL, and I have used Jason Chimera as a comp in the past. I’m not comfortable with it though based on difference in footspeed (which is the problem with the Nilsson/Schremp comp) so will keep looking.
  9. Devan Dubnyk: I have absolutely no idea. John Davidson was a huge WHL goalie and after that I’m out.
  10. Jeff Petry: He’s got the Ray McKay physique (6-2, 176) and a reputation of a good two-way defender with a plus shot from the point. Guy Flaming loves the guy (#1 prospect at HF) but the math has some concerns. Things like his being almost 20 when he reached NCAA hockey, and his offense (40gp, 3-20-23, .575) is shy of Chorney (.600) on a team that outscored UND (3.28gpg to 3). Tom Gilbert’s offense at the same age was in the range (39gp, 6-15-21, .538) but Gilbert’s team was even more offensively challenged (2.86gpg). Gilbert also has a size advantage but there are similarities between the two players.

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55 Responses to "Comps"

  1. Oilman says:

    LT – have you ever looked at Jason Allison as a Schremp comp? Their numbers in their last years in London are basically identical. Allison really could never skate but made himself a career as a PP specialist….he kicked around between the minors and the Caps for a little while before getting shipped out to Boston and putting up numbers (which i think will also happen to Schremp – and going to Boston wouldn’t surprise me a bit)…they diverge a little more if schremp spends more time in the minors, and Allison had the edge in size for sure…but those London numbers at least are ridiculously even.

  2. Lowetide says:

    oilman: Yeah I did, was hopeful they would be good comps. But they’re not, Allison was well clear at 20.

    In his 20-year old AHL season, Allison scored 1.21/ppg on a team that averaged 3.525 goals per game.

    In his 20-year old AHL season, Schremp scored .768/ppg on a team that averaged 3.45 goals per game.

    That’s a difference of .442ppg.

  3. doritogrande says:

    It’s not entirely relevant, but you don’t have the Sunday minors up yet. UND and Cornell both won their consolation games last night. Chorney with two assists, VandeVelde with a goal and an assist, and Nash with an assist. Given the success we’re having with out collegiate prospects, I’d be happy to go pick up another one in June. Say, Joe Colbourne maybe?

  4. Black Dog says:

    Great stuff LT.

    Chorney interests me a lot.

  5. misfit says:

    I’ve always thought Kyle Wellwood was probably one of the better comparables for Schremp. Both players are in the 5’11″, 185lb range, and aren’t great skaters, but have been able to make up for it by being creative offensively. Heck, both players were traded by their junior teams.

    The stats are pretty close. Both players lit up the OHL, and both were just under a point a game in their first pro season in the AHL. Wellwood’s second AHL season at 21 was during the lockout, so I’m not sure if that would swing the stats one way or another, but in that year he posted just over a point per game, whereas Schremp is just under that mark this year.

    Wellwood is only 3 years older than Schrmep, and he doesn’t seem to rely on the powerplay as much (the numbers may prove me wrong on that), but overall I think they’re pretty close.

  6. Mr DeBakey says:

    Bingo On Schremp=Chipperfield

    Chipperfield was a big time junior with Brandon.
    Decent in the WHA with the Oilers.

    But the ’79 merger/contraction pushed the new combined NHL past him

    Chipperfield was sweet to watch

  7. Lowetide says:

    I’ll always remember how classy Chipperfield was when the Oilers dealt him for Ron Low because they had no choice at all despite (I think it was) his Mom being very ill.

    I mean it was a disaster PR move and Chipperfield iirc just said it was business or some such.

    I’ll tell you there aren’t many people on the planet that would have forgiven that over a lifetime let alone as it happened.

  8. RiversQ says:

    LT said…
    He’s 25, we already know what he is and the chances of him improving markedly are pretty much zero.

    So the same logic applies to Penner too, right? In fact since Penner has more NHL experience than Gilbert, I’m guessing you’d say it’s an even more accurate statement applied to Penner.

    Oh, and one other thing. The Oilers aren’t a 2.88 G/game team. they’re a 2.68 G/game team. Counting the SO goals isn’t good for your comps.

    Someone should tell Matheson about this too. When he says only Detroit has scored more goals in the WC, he’s just lying. The Oilers are actually 7th in the WC in GF.

    Anyway, hell of a game yesterday. That Hemsky sure can play.

  9. dstaples says:

    My comparable for Gagner is Joe Sakic. They match up rather well in terms of size, style of play, better than Gagner does with Damphousse, I’d argue. Sakic was a junior at 18, but scored 62 in 70 games for Quebec at 19. Safe bet that Gagner does that next year, don’t you think?

  10. Lowetide says:

    RQ: I would agree absolutely that Penner is what he is. Thanks for the SO goal info, I didn’t know they included them. Makes no sense.

    David Staples: When Eric Davis first emerged the media called him “the next Willie Mays.” One day Willie Mays and Eric Davis met and Mays said “don’t let them call you that because they’ll turn on you when it turns out you’re not.”

    Gagner’s a helluva player but Joe Sakic? I think we need to wait awhile on that one.

  11. Scott says:

    I find the Riley Nash excitement really interesting. I think he’s probably the next forward prospect that establishes himself on this team, but there is still such a long way to go. Comaring these four players for example:

    Chris Higgins is 27gp, 14-17-31 at Yale (1.15ppg), Ryan Moynihan is 35gp, 8-19-27 at Cornell (.771ppg), Ryan Vesce is 33gp, 7-20-27 (.818)ppg) for Cornell and Riley Nash is 36gp, 12-20-32 (.889) for Cornell. Nash is only about 10bps up on these other two and 25 bps down from Higgins. I hope that he does turn out to be a player, but I’m not sure that the numbers are pointing us toward Higgins just yet. Maybe more like Ryan Vesce who’s having a nice career for himself in top shelf European leagues as well as a couple of pretty decent seasons in the AHL.

    Maybe I’m missing the point of the exercise, but the comp seems to be blueskying.

  12. Lowetide says:

    Well, not really. When I do comps for these guys there are a bunch of criteria:

    Age
    League
    Skill set (scouting report)
    Approx draft position

    So we’re taking a leap here that NHL scouts know what they’re doing and draft order is usually a good indicator.

    Honest.

  13. jon k says:

    I was thinking about Gagner’s season a bit today and as it progresses it becomes more amazing.

    I decided to look at the recent history of rookies in the NHL at age 18. This was what I found.

    2007-2008
    Sam Gagner 10 Aug ’89
    73-12-35-47 -19 15:31

    2000-2001
    Marian Gaborik DOB 14 Feb ’82
    71-18-18-36 -6 15:26

    2001-2002
    Ilya Kovalchuk DOB 15 Apr ’83
    65-29-22-51 -19 18:32

    2002-2003
    Rick Nash DOB Jun ’84
    74-17-22-39 -27 13:56

    Pierre-Marc Bouchard DOB 27 Apr ’84
    50-7-13-20 +1 13:16

    2003-2004
    Patrice Bergeron DOB 24 Jul ’85
    71-16-23-39 +5 16:20

    Nathan Horton DOB 29 May ’85
    55-14-8-22 -5 13:20

    2005-2006
    Sidney Crosby DOB 07 Aug ’87
    81-39-63-102 -1 20:07

    It’s interesting to note that in this admittedly small sample, only two players have PPGs that are higher than what Sam will end up with this season. Heady stuff.

    For interest’s sake, here are some others.

    1981-1982
    Ron Francis 1 Mar ’63 59-25-43-68

    1983-1984
    Steve Yzerman 9 May ’65 80-39-48-87

    1984-1985
    Mario Lemieux 5 Oct ’65 73-43-57-100

    1990-1991
    Jaromir Jagr 15 Feb ’72 80-27-30-57

    Obviously the more recent rookies will be a better indicator since they fall within the same era scoring wise. Also, I wasn’t able to find the TOI for the older seasons.

    All in all though, there’s a lot of reasons from both the “saw him good” and the “line in the sand” schools of thought to be very excited about Mr. Samwise Gagner.

  14. jon k says:

    Just to chime in on the other aspects of the post, I still suspect that Ray Whitney is a high-water comp for Schremp, while Viktor Kozlov is that of Trukhno.

  15. dave says:

    On Penner, I agree. He will never be a guy that gets alot done on his own. He’s gonna use his size to get position and the team has to get the mail to him. He’s only as good as the team around him. That said, the way things are shaping up team wise he’s gonna be looking pretty good to us.

    LT a bit hasty on Gilbert. Defence like goalies take a bit more time. Qualities such as consistancy on offense. And better coverage on D will improve. Gilbert at 25 will pale in comparison to Gilbert at 30.

    The intangible with comps is how much learning curve is left in the tank. Are they playing their best hockey for their current #’s or is their room to grow?

  16. PDO says:

    LT, I think you’re nicking Gagner too hard in the 18 y/o season. Damphouse was on a team that scored 33% more goals than him… that’s a pretty significant number. I mean, it’s crude as hell, but if we multiplied Gagner’s 17 season by a 1.33 ratio to pro-rate that, they wouldn’t exactly be comparable any more, would they?

  17. dstaples says:

    Damphousse is certainly a comparable, but he didn’t quite work for me perfectly because he is much taller and rangier than Gagner. He just moved and skated and played in a different style. Vinny was also older by nine months in his first season.

    Gagner has been a point a game by for two months now, similar to Sakic at 19.

    Gagner’s size, skill set, movement also reminds me of Sakic.

    Yes, I know, I know, this is a hugely optimistic comparable, and all kinds of things could happen to Gagner to stop him developing in that direction. But this is how he’s looking, to me, right now, the new Sakic.

  18. Moose says:

    Schremp’s upside is a more skilled version Andrew Brunette

  19. PDO says:

    Staples.

    I don’t think we can even begin to compare Sam Gagner to Joe Sakic until he rifles the puck half as well…

    I mean, if we’re listing things about Joe Sakic, and we’re listing things about Sam Gagner, “the wrist shot” will be one of the first we list in regards to Sakic.

    Would we even list Gagner’s shot as a plus at this point?

    That, in itself, blows the comparison out of the water in my mind.

    When Sakic was 17, he scored 60. Gagner scored 35. There’s just a HUGE difference there in the way the guy gets the job done.

  20. Lowetide says:

    The difference in height (2 in) isn’t that big a deal and it isn’t like Vincent D was a masher. Gagner’s a kid but isn’t 150 lbs or anything.

  21. dstaples says:

    PDO:

    Gagner seemed to fire the puck pretty darn well against Colorado.

    In any case, there’s resistance to the Sakic comparison.

    I see it, others don’t, time will tell, as in all things.

  22. Asiaoil says:

    I actually like the Ron Francis comp for Gagner except for the height difference – Vinny D seems a bit low given what he’s done in the 2nd half.

  23. Asiaoil says:

    A little off topic but this has always bugged me. Right before the Oilers picked Gagner at the draft – Lowe was talking to McPhee about a trade that would allow us to move up. The deal fell apart and McPhee goes up to make his selection – and starts by saying “the WAS Capitals are proud to selected from the London Knights” – then stops and smirks – and goes on to correct himself and pick Alzner.

    Anyone know what the Oilers were trying to do with the Caps? Who were they trying to trade up for and what the hell McPhee was doing? Was he just messing with Lowe about picking Gagner? This little event has one very large and interesting sub-text – and it would be very interesting to know what went on given how the season has turned out. Anyone got some inside dirt on this?

  24. jon k says:

    Asia, my understanding was that Lowe was talking a three-way trade, with Philly being one of the teams so that Lowe could move up to draft Turris.

  25. Lowetide says:

    Asia: I believe the Oilers were trying to trade up and get Alzner. Guy had something on it.

  26. PunjabiOil says:

    Joe Sakic
    GP 1357
    Points 1622
    PPG: 1.20
    8th in all time scoring

    Ron Francis
    GP 1731
    Points: 1798
    PPG: 1.04
    4th in all time scoring

    Of course different scoring era but
    Does Gagner have that sort of potential? Can Gagner have consistent 100 point seasons?

    I’m sticking with Doug Weight or Marc Savard

    Which isn’t a bad thing.

  27. dstaples says:

    Both Weight and Savard developed much later in life as point a game guys, did they not?

    What sets Gagner apart is the age at which he’s accomplishing point a game.

    Got a good one in Gagner in any case.

  28. dstaples says:

    In fact, I think we’ve all got off-track here. Comparables are most valuable when you look at whole groups of them, so to figure out how Gagner’s career might well progress, it’s the best idea to look at the 15-20 guys most like him. In that they . . .

    * Are smaller guys, under 6-feet, 200-pounds.
    * Were highly rated juniors.
    * Broke into the NHL at age 18-19 and had rapid success.

    Comparing Gagner to any one guys isn’t really the way to go (I say, having just done that myself).

  29. PunjabiOil says:

    Both Weight and Savard developed much later in life as point a game guys, did they not?

    What sets Gagner apart is the age at which he’s accomplishing point a game.

    While it’s true that Gagner has been a PPG player since the Carolina game, he’s still well below on an overall basis (0.64 PPG – 47 points in 73 games).

    Like I said, there’s a good chance he’ll be a legit 1st line center – but I’m cautious comparing him to NHL legends.

    Hell, for all we know, he could be another Jason Arnott who platued in his rookie season (78-33-35-68) – 0.87 PPG. With prospects, you just don’t know.

    Not saying one shouldn’t be encouraged by Gagner’s recent development – but the enthusiasm should be curbed.

  30. MikeP says:

    LT, hard to disagree with most of it, but I don’t agree at all with Gilbert. Edmonton’s had (I believe) nothing short of some spectacular luck with the college boys, but they do seem to come on a bit later.

    Shawn Horcoff at 25 was a 40 point defensive forward. Horcoff at 28 and 29 has been a first line centre, no Sakic or Yzerman but certainly no Mike Comrie either. 4 years at Michigan State.

    Fernando Pisani at 25 was still another half season away from the big; at 28-29 he was leading the NHL in playoff goals. 4 years at Providence.

    Look at John-Michael Liles in Colorado; 4 years at MSU, some overlapped with Horc. He’s what, a pretty dependable second-pairing guy now? Adam Hall (of the same vintage) was a bit of a bust, but 350 or so NHL GP is pretty good.

    These guys who finish their US college hockey careers with degrees seem to be a different breed.

  31. breakerdog says:

    I disagree with the logic that a player does not develop significantly after 25. There are just so many examples of players “getting it” later in their careers. Horcoff, Staios and Cleary from the Oilers in recent memory. Other players like Brett Hull and Ray Whitney turned into all stars later on in their career after pretty shaky starts.

    Penner, Gilbert and Pitkanen still have a higher ceiling than shown. Whether we will see it or not is another question.

  32. Lowetide says:

    As far as the “don’t develop after 25″ point, I think players get opportunities after age 25 and that has a definite impact. Horcoff for instance is given a lot of credit for bigger offensive seasons after age 25 but he was a Hobey finalist in college and didn’t get the top 2line chances with more skilled forwards until later in his career.

    If he had been called up in fall 2000 and been given Comrie’s linemates does anyone doubt his numbers would have been better?

  33. mike w says:

    Would we even list Gagner’s shot as a plus at this point?

    Maybe not compared to Sakic, but his shot is definitely been considered one of his best attributes in the scouting write-ups I’ve seen. And we’ve definitely got a taste of it this year.

    I do find the drooling enthusiasm for Gagner-Coglinao-Nilsson based on one-and-a-half months of good hockey a little bit troubling.

    These guys are NHL players, this much we know. We’ll know a lot more by this time next year, of course, but I’m trying not to get ahead of myself in thinking that these super young players aren’t capable of slumps, bad luck or losing their game.

  34. Oilman says:

    LT….very true what you say re: Horcoff vs Comrie….Horcoff was 2nd in NCAA scoring in his final year and Comrie finished 5th…6 points back. Comrie’s team outscored Horcoff’s by almost 0.5gpg….in Mikes case, being a Comrie helped. (I have a sneaking suspicion that you already knew that though)

  35. Mr DeBakey says:

    On the Pipeline Show last week,
    Petry claimed 6-3 and 195 lbs

  36. IceDragoon says:

    Good day.

    As far as the “don’t develop after 25″ point, I think players get opportunities after age 25 and that has a definite impact. Horcoff for instance is given a lot of credit for bigger offensive seasons after age 25 but he was a Hobey finalist in college and didn’t get the top 2line chances with more skilled forwards until later in his career.

    Potential that he couldn’t translate to the NHL till he was 27. In ’03-’04 he got his top-line time, and tho he showed an exemplary D-game against top guns, he still had a slight delay in his O-zone read and react. He did not trust his instincts and was overthinking. I said to my husband that it looked like he was cheating for D. ;-)

    I think he threw all caution to the wind during the lockout and focused on his offence, developing trust in his read and react. And… I recall being thrilled to tell a certain Lowetide to prepare for many smiles, after watching #10 at TC ’05. The ‘hitch’ in his thought process was gone… replaced by a complete game.

    I’d say that’s development, and something to be expected in really smart athletes, imo. They don’t stop learning and adjusting.

    L8r
    Louise

  37. Stuart van says:

    Oilers haven’t had an 18 year old on this team achieve so much since Gretzky.

    Gagner’s no Gretzky, but he is a very exciting prospect. He seems to keep learning and developing at a rapid pace, and has a true love for the game. Unless injury sidelines him, he could be an NHL superstar for years to come. Unlike Arnot (and Jordan Staal with Pittsburgh), Gagner is a little undersized, which I think makes it much less likely that his rookie season is his high water mark.

  38. jon k says:

    In my opinion there are several reasons to predict that Petry will be a better NHL defenceman that Chorney.

  39. Lowetide says:

    jon k: And that’s fair, but what are they?

  40. Vic Ferrari says:

    Gagner is hard to peg. He looked so terrible early, but the rate at which he has been improving is almost spooky. Just the way that he has learned to take the puck off the sidewall and move it forward with purpose … Christ, Miro Satan has been in the league well over a decade, is gifted with surreal stick skills, and he can’t seem to figure that out.

    He wins battles too, small players usually find a way to do that eventually (‘get there first’, as Ruff would say) But not until their 30th birthday or so.

    We both know that the gameplan recently has been built around the kid line looking good, which is ominous in my opinion, still, results be results, and Gagner is carrying that line. And he’s not doing it with high risk plays and a streak of 7s. The guy can play. And he’s still a boy.

    Normally I’d be shrugging at the fanboys in this sort of scenario, but there is no shame in admitting, in this case, that the Oilers just may have found a very special player here.

    I don’t think that the Sakic comp is crazy. Not at all.

  41. Master Lok says:

    I don’t see the Brodziak – Stoll comparable, simply because of style. Brodziak has quite a decent wristshot, while Stoll only has the slapshot. I see Brodziak in Pisani’s mold.

    I see a bit of what dstaples in the Sakic comparison with Gagner. How does Sam compare with his dad?

    I don’t see Pouliot as Stoll either. Again, probably because style-wise, Pouliot can take a pass, Stoll can’t.

    And I like dstaples comparison of Smid with Lowe.

  42. Dennis says:

    Vic: that Satan line just killed me.

    On Horc: I liked how good the guy looked in the ’03 plays even when playing with Laraque and Isbister;)

    Seriously, though, Horc was a guy who did all the right things in his own and the neutral zones and then got his offensive confidence in the SEL and then when he came back, he had confidence along with smarts.

  43. Stuart van says:

    David Staples makes a good point. The best way to get a predictor of potential outcomes (good and bad), is to get a sampling of 15-20 guys that have performed at Gagner’s level at Gagner’s age, and then see the range of performances from that period.

    Who could have predicted, for instance, that Jimmy Carson’s best season would be his sophomore season of 107 points (as a 19 year old), after having a rookie season of 79 points, and that he’d only hit a career total of 561 points?

    I like the Sakic comparison, aside from the fact that Gagner was the #2 scorer on his team, second to a player that is now leading the NHL in rookie scoring, and Sakic had twice as many points as any other player on the team, so Sakic clearly carried his team in a way that Gagner did not.

  44. Lowetide says:

    Sakic doesn’t work for me for a few reasons:

    1. His development from age 18 to 20 is off the charts. Once a generation.

    2. He did not have the same draft pedigree (15th in his season, 7th from his league) as Gagner.

    3. His 18-year old junior season was quality and his 19-year old NHL season was good too, but were not a fair indicator of the future. Sam Gagner is going to need stilts to match Sakic at 20.

    I hope Gagner becomes Sakic. Seriously. But predicting it? I don’t think it’s reasonable. Lots of very good NHL players don’t develop like Joe Sakic did, no sin there.

  45. doritogrande says:

    Regarding Dubnyk, how did Sean Burke get to where he was? He was a mammoth goaltender also.

  46. Slipper says:

    PJO makes a good point with his Arnott example. You can’t determine how effective players are or will be using just goals and assists.

    Arnott’s just one example. Mike Modano scored 93 points twice in his 4th and 5th seasons ( I guess he plateued?), but who in their right mind would argue that he hasn’t been a FAR better player since the Hitchcock era in Dallas, even though Modano hasn’t broken over 85 points since then?

  47. jon k says:

    LT:
    Petry’s combination of size and skating ability, as well as apparent high-end hockey sense and coachability make him a more appealing prospect to me than Chorney.

    In terms of offensive skills, I don’t think his passing skill or vision equals Chorney’s, but alternatively he does possess a powerful shot from the point which Chorney lacks.

    Generally, I see him as possessing some key defensive qualities I like in defenders, namely the ability to defend physically or with positioning and hockey sense, coupled with skating ability.

    I’m a pretty firm believer in the wait-and-see approach when it comes to prospects who’ve yet to turn pro however, so next year will really help us with judging Chorney.

  48. Dennis says:

    Never saw this mentioned anywhere else but Truk had a point in all three games this weekend and I believe it was on Sunday night where he had both a goal AND a fight!

  49. jon k says:

    I should also mention that Trukhno is making me eat my words a little bit. I wouldn’t wish anything against a young man trying to make a career for himself so I’ll just leave it at that.

  50. Vic Ferrari says:

    LT:

    Point taken on Sakic, though it should be mentioned that in Joe’s rookie season he was 13 months older that Gagner.

    Also you’re looking at the counting stats here, out of necessity I know. But in Sakic’s first three years he recorded a whopping 167 even strength points. So surely he was on the ice for well over 200 goals for.

    And he managed a plus-minus of -102 over that time. Now granted some of those probably came with the net empty, or shorthanded goals against.

    Still, we’re in the neighbourhood of 100 GA per season at even strength over Joes first three years in the league. Sweet baby Jesus, that’s insane.

    I don’t think we’re going to see many young guys brought along this way ever again. There just won’t be any Sakic comps, by your measure, because there just won’t be the same context.

    As well, Gagner’s OHL numbers are quite a bit better than Joe’s WHL numbers in their draft year. And Gagner’s Knights scored fewer goals than Sakic’s Broncos.

    Having said that, while I don’t think it’s crazy to think that Gagner will have the impact of Sakic, I don’t think that he’s a great comp in terms of style.

    I like Gilmour as a comp. The draft position is way off, in spite of his gaudy counting numbers in the OHL in his draft year. But that isn’t something I’d really weigh heavily, personally.

    Gilmour had some big scoring seasons, but not quite in Joe’s range. He played tougher minutes for most of his career, and did a lot to help his teams win hockey games. As good as Sakic was and is … I’d rate Gilmour as his equal, if not better.

    More than anything though, Gilmour was a guy who just ‘got it’ from an early age. Did the little things. And at the ridiculous speed that the NHL game moves, it takes years for some guys to make these things instinctive. Damphousse, to me, was a guy who took ages to really start becoming a difference maker. He was more from the Marc Savard tree.

    You’ve moved me to check on some stats though. And a lot of the things that I was picking on Gagner for (and the other rookies) early in the season … he’s turned those around massively.

    Just looking at the half season splits:

    In the first half his shifts were ending in his own end a bunch, way more than they should have, given that he didn’t start there very often. Team worst. In the second have he’s a positive difference maker in this regard (granted Cogliano seems to be the one driving that aspect [love the Goring comp btw], and Reasoner and Pitkanen have no peers at this on this Oiler team)

    His Corsi has gone from -116 to -22, Glencross leads this squad at this at -3 as an oiler, which won’t surprise anyone, dude is a puck possession machine in the offensive end of the rink.

    And he’s outperforming his most regular linemates at this by a good margin as well.

    I’m thinking Gilmour. You disagree, LT?

    On a related note; insomnia is a bitch. :)

  51. Black Dog says:

    Interesting stuff on Gagner, Vic – thanks.

  52. Lowetide says:

    Part of it for me is holding down the optimism, I guess. Do we really have a Sakic/Gilmour here? I wrote in December’s Oilers top 20 ‘better than hemsky?’ and people were a bit challenged by it.

    Three months later and we’re talking Sakic/Gilmour? Incredible. I’m not saying it isn’t true, Vic. In fact I would guess if there were a blogosphere in the late 80s we might be having a conversation just like that about Sakic.

    But when do you trust the fact you have a special player? Maybe I’ve seen too many Von Hayes in my time to trust the numbers.

    That Corsi number is thrilling btw. That isn’t a lightbulb going on, that’s turning up the sun.

  53. jon k says:

    Good post from Vic. I agree with LT though to a certain extent with tempering our enthusiasm. I think at this point that Oil fans have had more than enough reasons to be disappointed in the last few seasons, so having lower expectations that are exceeded isn’t necessarily a bad way to go. Hah.

  54. Dennis says:

    If you expect the worst, you never really get disappointed so while I’m inwardly optimistic about a lot of these guys, I still don’t have the confidence to fully express it;)

    Although, it is hard to be anything then delirious about the potential of Gagner.

  55. Vic Ferrari says:

    Dennis and jon k:

    Yeah, you’re probably right, but their really are a lot of things to be optimistic about.

    Usually it seems like players are well into their twenties before the light comes on. Before they stop chasing Demitra into the corner because they just about got the puck off him … then he puts the puck through their legs and the pinching D has a point blank chance from the very spot he was supposed to be standing.

    Or when they take the passing lane away from where Tanguay is looking instead of the dangerous passing lane. We all know that it will be three weeks before Tanguay makes a pass to the place he’s actually looking to, these players know it too if you asked them when they were sitting down. But at game speed it’s a different story.

    Gagner’s just starting to get it, and it’s exciting to see. Like Smyth did when he was about 24 years old. (That stint at centre did a lot for Ryan’s game too I thought, I think it’s helped for Penner as well).

    I mean the other rookies I’m not so enthusiastic about.

    Will Stortini be able to use his continue to use his Zacharisma to influence the goaltending behind him to be 16 points higher than the best season ever recorded by an NHL goalie (Hasek a decade ago), like he has in the back half of this season? Maybe, but probably not. History has no example to follow, so in the spirit of the comps thread, I’m going to advise betting against it. :)

    Will the 2nd half Zacharisma continue to influence the players he’s on the ice with, defensemen included, at any given time, to finish their chances with a higher shooting% than Sakic has managed over his career? Sakic’s numbers include PP btw, and are just for him, not his linemates.

    History does have a comp here, Mario Lemieux managed it a few years ago. Still, I’d advise betting on it.

    To one extent or another the other rookies have seen improvement in results for that same reason. The exception is Gagner, who actually has a minor complaint with the hockey gods, the save% behind him has been a touch low, and the shooting percentage while he’s on the ice not quite where it could be, given the nature and level of his skills.

    And I was starting to fall in love with him before I bothered to check the numbers (because we both know, it’s harder to love someone’s game when they aren’t getting the breaks and the team is losing, and Oiler fan bar tables are full of empty glasses and love for everyone wearing the oildrop when the Oilers win the game, whether they were the better team on the night or not).

    Plus he battles, and he’s not afraid to get to the puck first.

    Plus he fought Kesler.

    Plus he’s going to be a helluva faceoff guy one day soon, probably within a year or two.

    He’s getting cherry icetime now I know. And he’ll look worse when that changes (and it needs to change, gradually, for him to develop quickly and not fall into bad habits.) There will be two steps forward and one step back a few times yet, no argument there. Still, he’s going to be a hell of a player methinks. Doug Gilmour.

    Make note of this thread and come back and mock me if it turns out I’m wrong, Dennis :D

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