In past summers we`ve discussed comparables for various players (Hemsky equals Rick Middleton, etc) and can usually figure out a good comp by the time a player has been in the NHL for a season or two.
Sam Gagner`s comps are very good players, but I`m still not certain if his best comp is Doug Gilmour or Vincent Damphousse.
In the case of Damphousse, the parallels are strong and go back to junior. 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 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 2.87 so we can again draw the same conclusion (Gagner slightly ahead at the same age). As a 19-year old NHL player Damphousse went 75gp, 12-36-48 (.640 points-per-game) while Gagner went 76gp, 16-25-41 (.539 points-per-game). Damphousse was on a team that scored 3.41 goals-per-game, Gagner`s team 2.85. I think we can safely say that (offensively) Sam Gagner is tracking ahead of Vincent Damphousse as an NHL player.
In terms of plus minus compared to team, Damphousse is superior both seasons:
- Damphousse at 18: -6 on a team that was -21
- Gagner at 18: -21 on a team that was -14
- Damphousse at 19: +2 on a team that was -36
- Gagner at 19: -1 on a team that was +7
So at this point we`re looking at a player with fewer dimensions that Damphousse but a better offensive resume as a teenager. A quick warning about quality of opposition: we don`t know what kind of opponent Damphousse was playing against, so a closer look is impossible.
Starting this season, we can finally compare apples to apples in regard to the other strong comp, Doug Gilmour. I suspect Gagner will trail without the puck at age 20, as Gilmour was an outstanding NHL rookie:
- Was +6 on a team that was level at EVs (210-209). That’s impressive, and he did it on a club with some veterans bailing water (Federko was -3, Joey Mullen was -8 and Guy Chouinard was -15 and about to lose his career).
- The team was 62-56 at EVs when he was on the ice.
- He scored just 3 goals on the PP (Blues had 79 of them).
- He scored 1 PK goal (of the 4 St. Louis scored that season).
- His boxcar numbers were 80gp, 25-28-53 .66points-per-game.
- He was 6th in team scoring behind a bunch of veterans.
- He was tied for 3rd on the team in EV goals.
- He led the Blues in playoff scoring as a 20-year old
I think Gagner has a good chance to exceed the point-per-game total (.66 per game). If get gets close to Gilmour in plus minus relative to team it`ll mark a big improvement and if he can score 21 even-strength goals we`re going to be giddy for a decade.