Sudden Sam

We’ve been having a little bit of fun tracking Sam Gagner this season, following what was a difficult year for the young phenom. Early on, we wondered if he was just a slow starter but as the season reached the midway point and offense was just a rumor it became a concern. We’re at a point in the season where we can begin to compare players and their progress relative to previous high (or low) water marks.

Since it’s an off day, let’s run some numbers for Master Samwise:

EV Scoring (points per 60)
  • 07-08: 9-24-33 in 1009EVs minutes (1.96/per 60)
  • 08-09: 10-20-30 in 974EVs minutes (1.85/per 60)

PP Scoring (points per 60)

  • 07-08: 4-12-16 in 222PP minutes (4.32/per 60)
  • 08-09: 6-5-11 in 225PP minutes (2.93/per 60)

The EV number is within the range of randomness (read: luck) but the PP number is a disappointment. Gagner is 4th among forwards on the PP (Hemsky-Horcoff-Penner) and if anything should see more time with the man advantage a year from now. It has become somewhat in vogue to rip Ales Hemsky a new one every game or so, and Hemmer’s EV total (2.07) is not a huge leap from where Sam Gagner is today. It’s the Hemsky PP number (6.22) that is worthy of gasps and tells us the kid has a ways to go (Hemsky’s PP number was 3.53/60 at age 19 and his EV number was 2.28–in fewer minutes).

The Splits

  • 07-08 1st 40: 3-13-16 (.400ppg) -11
  • 07-08 2nd 39: 10-23-33 (.846ppg) -10
  • 08-09 1st 37: 3-11-14 (.378ppg) -1
  • 08-09 2nd 36: 13-14-27 (.750ppg) +1

A couple of things pop out: Gagner’s plus minus has improved substantially season-over-season. We know he’s not doing the heavy lifting on this club but that’s real improvement in a vital area before age 20 in the best league on the planet. Big, big arrow in the right direction.

Also, if we add the two first halves together (77gp, 6-24-30 .390) and compare that to the combined second halves (75gp, 23-37-60 .800) we get two completely different players.

Usually these things dissolve as soon as we recognize the trend, but there are Bret Saberhagen’s and Mike Grier’s in the world (Saberhagen could only dominate in odd years, and Grier scored 8 one year and 20 the next for a time).

What can the Oilers do about it? Suggestions are welcome.

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