Ideally it would have been better for Sam Gagner to have this season one year ago. Why? Well, the boxcars were better last year and fans know boxcars better than they know Corsi or Desjardins or 5×5/60. So, it’s impossible to argue that Samwise is making steps forward if you’re talking to a boxcar fan. His point total is way off and he keeps making obvious and glaring errors. Plus he has proven to be vulnerable to pressure with great regularity even when he owns the puck. That runs at cross purposes with what we know about skilled men.
Let’s begin this little exercise with some of the stuff Gabriel Desjardins supplies for free on his site.
- 07-08 5×5/60: 1.96
- 08-09 5×5/60: 1.27
- 07-08 5×4/60: 3.88
- 08-09 5×4/60: 2.01
- 07-08 Corsi: -5.6
- 08-09 Corsi: +1.5
- 07-08 GF ON/OFF: 38-52
- 08-09 GF ON/OFF: 26-22
My reading of the Desjardins tea leaves are that he’s playing with lesser mates this season compared to last and both campaigns were played out against the soft parade (maybe a hair tougher this season).
Now the boxcars:
- 07-08: 79gp, 13-36-49 -21
- 08-09: 53gp, 16-25-41 -1
Sam Gagner’s offense is way off, but his underlying numbers are much better. A year ago, I was pretty certain he was going to be the next Vincent Damphousse:
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 79gp, 13-36-49 (.620 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).
At 19 Damphousse’s offense ran in place but it didn’t go backwards (75gp, 12-36-48, .640) as it has with Gagner (.358). At this point we don’t know if Gagner is going to be Damphousse as an offensive player and despite huge gains in secondary numbers it’s the offense that makes him a prospect of interest.
It’s a worry, but there may be a silver lining. Sam Gagner might be a small-g Doug Gilmour. A nice run offensively in the season’s final quarter would do a lot to improve that argument.