RE 09-10: Sam Gagner

As a teenager, Sam Gagner scored 90 points in 155 NHL games with the Oilers. In team history it’s a very rare item. The Oilers list of total points by teenagers in the last 15 seasons include Ales Hemsky (30 points in 59 games as a teenager), Ryan Smyth (11 points in 51 games), Jason Bonsignore (3 points in 21 games) and Jason Arnott (68 points in 78 games).

I think this is the season Sam Gagner passes Shawn Horcoff’s boxcar numbers. Gagner’s closest comp (Vincent Damphousse) had a 20 points jump in year three and Gagner is tracking pretty well with him. He’ll need more time on the first powerplay unit and softer opposition than #10. With Pat Quinn coaching that isn’t a certainty.

  • Boxcars: 76gp, 16-25-41, 51pims
  • Shots: 156
  • Plus Minus: -1
  • Corsi: -0.9
  • GF/GA ON: 43-39
  • 5×5/60: 1.69
  • 5×4/60: 3.12
  • Quality of Competition: 3rd level
  • Quality of Teammates: very good 2nd level
  • FO %: 42.0% in 690 sorties
  • 09-10 Cap Hit: $.875M (nhlnumbers.com)
  1. What do these numbers tell us? He’s very, very young. This is not an impressive linescore unless you know he’s 19. Gagner’s 5×5/60 and 5×4/60 are middle of the pack and this despite having to face 3rd level opposition with pretty good help and he’s not much help in the faceoff circle. The good things about these numbers are the improved Corsi (-5.6 to -0.9 year over year) and the improved GF/GA ON (43-39 now and 38-52 one season ago).
  2. How could the numbers be better? Age and experience. We don’t know how quickly or how well he is developing because he’s been overmatched badly for the last 2 seasons. He’ll either start swimming (there are signs) or go the other way and this season may or may not be pivotal. We also don’t know what Pat Quinn is going to do for (or to) him. We do know that many splendid young players take a couple of seasons to get settled and then begin smashing major league pitching. In the examples above it took a little longer for some and came quickly for others and still others went Bonsignore. History tells us that he’ll improve his point total moving forward, the question is how much.
  3. What about Cogliano? It’s been fun watching these two come into the NHL, more fun than Horcoff/Comrie in 2000. For lots of reasons I think Gagner will be the better player and this season should see the kid emerge but it’s not certain. I think it’s very important to know what these kids are before dealing them. Call it (Miro) Satan’s rule.
  4. What about the Kid Line? There’s always a chance the Oilers will roll out Nilsson, Cogliano and Gagner as a unit at some point this season but I think Dustin Penner may end up playing LW with Gagner this season. They’re not going to break any speed records but if Penner falls from the 1line he’ll very likely play with the 2C.
  5. Will Quinn play him against tougher opposition? The two major issues for Gagner moving forward are getting on that top powerplay unit and getting MacT-era protection. He has all kinds of good things but he is 20 and this is the best league on the planet. If Pat Quinn runs him against the tough opposition the kid line might be renamed the Shimantan Dam Disaster.
  6. What Else? A very cerebral player. I don’t know who he is yet, but many posters here have suggested his best comp will be Doug Gilmour (as opposed to my choice of Vincent Damphousse). This will be our first chance to compare them at the same age (Gilmour was 20 as an NHL rookie).
  7. How Important is Gagner to this team? He’s vital because good organizations make these lottery kids count. Also, the Oilers as they sit idling in the driveway today have a lot of their 2009-10 equation out in the ether–unbalanced roster, a lack of actual NHL players, injuries a concern, no real backup goalie–and if enough of those things go the wrong way Edmonton will have another lottery pick. If they get another top 5 selection then that player joins Gagner as the future. But only if he keeps developing.

By the Numbers

  • 07-08 5×5 per 60m: 1.96
  • 08-09 5×5 per 60m: 1.69
  • 07-08 5×4 per 60m: 3.88
  • 08-09 5×4 per 60m: 3.12

Before I post my predictions for Sam Gagner, allow me to post his splits from the last 2seasons:

  • 07-08 1st 40: 3-13-16 (.400ppg) -11
  • 07-08 2nd 39: 10-23-33 (.846ppg) -10
  • 08-09 1st 36: 4-12-16 (.444ppg) +1
  • 08-09 2nd 36: 12-13-25 (.694ppg) -2

Predictions Past 2008-09

  • Predicted: 78gp, 18-35-53 (.679 per game)
  • Actual: 76gp, 16-25-41 (.539 per game)

Prediction for 2009-10: 78gp, 20-40-60 (.769 per game)

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