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 (
  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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29 Responses to "RE 09-10: Sam Gagner"

  1. hunter1909 says:

    You know it's funny, but I wouldn't mind a lottery pick at all.

    I've basically given up all hope for this team, in other words.

  2. NormanMendoza says:

    Ahh, Arnott, it should be the Satan rule and the Arnott Theorem.

    Sometimes young players get better when they older.

    Sometimes good players are better when they get older.

  3. pboy says:

    Chuck Huddy just signed on with Marc Crawford's staff in Dallas.

  4. mc79hockey says:

    I think it's very important to know what these kids are before dealing them. Call it (Miro) Satan's rule.

    I'm not saying trade Gagner, but I completely disagree with this. When evaluating a trade, the question is always the value you're giving away versus the value you're receiving. What's more, I don't think that you really believe it.

    If, for example, the Caps phoned and offered Ovechkin for Gagner, you would do the deal precisely because you don't think Gagner's expected future value is equal to Ovechkin's. So really, I think that we agree and, at most, you're saying that you prefer to assign a higher expected value to players where there are unknowns. I think that's a loser move in the long run.

    The Satan trade may well have been stupid, but if it was, it's because the Oilers didn't realize what they had and botched the assessment of Miro's future value. Kind of like the return they got in the Pronger trade.

  5. Lowetide says:

    MC: Certainly the statement is made with the understanding the reader will forgive outrageous examples like the one you've given. I'd file your example under "impossible" and expect you'd agree.

    However, as a recent example I was completely against the Heatley trade because Cogliano was included in the deal. It's a crazy Glen Sather thing to do and he's kept doing in NYC too btw.

    Or a baseball example, isn't it interesting that the Phillies didn't give up those arms in the Halliday trade but were still able to satisfy a need?

    We don't know who Sam Gagner or Andrew Cogliano are. Good organizations wait until they have a very good idea about them.

  6. mc79hockey says:

    However, as a recent example I was completely against the Heatley trade because Cogliano was included in the deal. It's a crazy Glen Sather thing to do and he's kept doing in NYC too btw.

    Yeah, I think that we just disagree on where Heatley is likely to fall. I see it as a crazy Sather thing to do when you're trading a potentially high end youngster and not getting a star in return. In the case of Heatley, the Oilers would have been getting a star.

    The Satan deal's not a great example because he was traded for garbage but one that comes to mind is the Leafs' deal for Owen Nolan a few years back.

    Nolan cost the Leafs Alyn McCauley, Brad Boyes and a first. When that deal was made, I though it was nuts, as the Leafs already had a lot of what Nolan brought and was pretty clearly on the downslope of his career, whereas the guys the Leafs gave up were going the other way. That, to me, is a Glen Sather trade.

    I don't make that Nolan deal if I'm Toronto's GM. Really though, given that you accept my Ovechkin point, I think that we agree and just assign different weights to the future production.

  7. Lowetide says:

    Yeah, I think that's it. We'll see, maybe Heatley delivers huge numbers throughout his contract and Cogliano stays right where he is.

  8. Downright Fierce says:

    Well I'm glad that's over. When you two disagree, it's like watching the parents fight.

  9. Master Lok says:

    well… maybe grandparents fight.

  10. mc79hockey says:

    I'm 29 for another six weeks. I don't appreciate the grandparents remark.

  11. Black Dog says:

    Physically you may be 29, well 33 or so but mentally you're definitely in your forties pal.


    And watch the cracks about LT and his age, we're pretty well peers.

    Although mentally at least I'm young enough to be his son.

    Plus he's mad at me because I am having sex with Diane Lane.

  12. Bruce says:

    Hunter: It's August 5. You're not allowed to give up all hope until much later than this … say October 15.

    LT: I hated, hated, hated the Satan trade, and hated the idea when the local stooges, ooops, MSM started greasing the slide for his departure weeks before it actually happened. I had seen those sweet hands in tight and the low panic point and it seemed obvious to me, lowly fan, that he had a big future as a finisher.

    Satan had been a goal-a-game scorer for Dukla Trencin at 19 and again for Cape Breton at 20. He scored 35 goals over 126 games for the Oilers on barely 200 shots at 21 and 22 playing with a ridiculous assortment of part-time linemates including, all too often, the Black Aces. That he was often pressboxed or benched to give ice time to the likes of David Oliver, Scott Thornton, Kent Manderville, or even Louie DeBrusk was hard to take. The team also had a tendency to bring in guys like Mariusz Czerkawski and Andrei Kovalenko to be "scoring wingers" and squeeze the developing Satan out of his most obvious role.

    To dump him was a blunder; to do so for Barrie Moore and Craig Millar may have been the worst trade in franchise history not involving trade-me demands and/or copious sums of money. Moore and Millar combined to play 39 games for the Oil; Satan has scored 319 goals since he left.

  13. Fake Craig McTavish says:

    Black Dog said…

    Plus he's mad at me because I am having sex with Diane Lane."

    Unfortunately, there's a baggie involved.

  14. quain says:

    Unfortunately, there's a baggie involved.

    Diane Lane doesn't have unprotected sex. She's classy.

  15. bookie says:

    My predictions for Sam G are big this year. I am confident that at the last minute he will snatch the ring from Gollum and toss it into mount doom.

    I could be wrong on this one, but all of the signs are pointing in his direction.

    As for comparables some people suggest that Robin is a good comparable, but I think that Karate (from Batfink) is a much better comparable.

  16. Downright Fierce says:

    Once again, bookie, you are full of it.

    Everyone knows Sam G tracks closer to Dr. Strange's manservant Wong. GAWD!

  17. B.C.B. says:

    While I think that Gagner will be the number 1 PP center eventually for the Oilers, I don't know if it will be this year.
    Maybe a small increase in his PP time, but not the number one PP center position. Last year, even with Horcoff's terrible PP results, Horcoff had a better 5×4 Pts/60: H- 3.38 to G- 3.12. Unless Gagner starts out producing Horcoff, without Hemsky, I can't see him being moved up to the top unit. I also think this will cause a major shuffling of the PP, since I can't see 27-83-89 being successful as a top unit.
    In short, I can't see it happening out of TC, but will admit there is, a small, chance that Gagner will be on the top unit by season's end.

  18. Traktor says:


    The guys on the first unit SHOULD have better numbers.

    They at least get to set it shop while the 2nd unit usually comes on with only 30 seconds left and the puck in the defensive zone so their pts/60 stats just get watered down.

    We know Horcoff is going to play a huge role at 5×5 and surly our best defensive center is going to be a mainstay on the PK as well.

    If the difference between Horcoff and Gagner is marginal on the PP then wouldn't it make sense to keep Horcoff fresh so he can excel at his other duties?

  19. B.C.B. says:

    Tracktor: It may of sounded like I disagree with you, but I don't. Horcoff's numbers should be better as a 1st unit PP, but so should the Oilers numbers as a whole. You are right that Horcoff is the best 5×5 and PK center we have: I would like to see him play a little less on the PP to keep him rested.

    What I was saying is I do not think Ganger will get more PP time then Horcoff (not that I do not think it should happen): it is about expectations, not what I would do.

    Based on Mr. Quinn's time at the centre of the universe, his number one center, Matt Sudin*, played a lot of both PK and PP time. For example during Quinn's tenure, Sudin played an average of 1:36 PK TOI/G, 4:23 PP TOI/G, and 19:56 TOI/G. In the entire seven season they both shared in TO, only once did Sudin play less then a minute on either special teams (2001-02, he played 0:32 PK TOI/G). While Sudin's number are higher on the PP then the PK, which is what you would expect, it does show a tendency for Quinn to run his #1 center a lot on the special teams and roll his four lines more at even strength then we have recently seen under MacT.

    From this historical data, I am suggesting that Horcoff's PP time does not drastically reduce it self. The only way Gagner moves up in the depth chart, on PP, is if he is out performing Horcoff on the second unit by a significant margin. The only other way Gagner would get on the 1st unit PP, is if Quinn has changed his strategies from what he hass historically stuck to.

    *While, it is safe to say that Sudin has more offensive talent them Horcoff, they both play a similar role in the respective teams: number one center, best center in all aspects of the game (special teams and even strength).

  20. Ed says:


    Sundin was also the laughs best offensive forward and leading scorer

    Hemsky is that player for the oil.

  21. doritogrande says:

    I don't want to see Sam Gagner as our 1PP center until he learns to take a faceoff. Putting Gagner in that position means we're losing the first 20 seconds on the start of every powerplay.

    This is where Shawn Horcoff has incredible value to the powerplay.

  22. doritogrande says:


    The Winnipeg Jets lost another former teammate to retirement today.

    Teppo Numminen called it a career today. TSN link:

    Leaves, at immediate glance Shane Doan, Keith Tkachuk, Teemu Selanne, and Nikolai Khabibulin left. A huge part of my childhood is less of a memory today.

  23. uni says:

    Dorito, if someone like Penner can step in and win those faceoffs, then Gagner slides into the C spot that's not a problem =).

    That's a pretty big if though, since Penner has a very small sample size on the dot, but with his percentage so far it's an intriguing experiment.

  24. The Elephant Man says:

    The Skinny:
    - Oilers don't have a second faceoff man
    - Everything else seems just fine

    The Skinnier:
    - They will go into the preschool training camp AS IS

    The Skinniest:
    - This team will be a better team than last year, fun to watch, and make a drive for 8th place.

  25. danny says:

    My problem with the not trading Cogliano until you know what you have train of thought follows…

    Cogliano is getting a new contract next season. I think we can expect atleast $3MM per season? As high as $4…

    Thats probably going to end a year before his UFA hits.

    Cogliano doesnt strike me as an atypical prospect, in the sense that he wont truely be able to deliver the goods without bleeding into open water until roughly the age of 25.

    If Cogliano is anywhere near a 40+ goal scorer by the end of his contract, and a plus player, then hes getting a huge contract regardless.

    At no point are we getting large return on Coglianos contract. He will likely never outperform his salary.

    So if you keep holding onto unforseen talents, wheres the payoff? Theyre never going to be a bargain. Not bluechippers like him. No way no how.

    Ottawa arent trading Heatley because they know they can better themselves by doing so. They arent hoping that they can get their hands on Cogliano because hes tracking well.

  26. Bruce says:

    After Horcoff went down in '07-08 Gagner defaulted to the first PP unit which, coincidentally or otherwise, went on a bit of a tear down the stretch. The PP produced at 6.93 GF/60 with Gagner on the ice that year, 5.43 with Horcoff. Horc had a slightly higher PPP/60 rate, 4.00 to 3.88, so the play went through him a little more often, but Gagner had both a very decent sample size and pretty reasonable success, especially late in the season playing with Hemsky and Penner up front and Stoll and Pitkanen on the point.

  27. Traktor says:


    I'm not sure how much faith I have in what Quinn or any coach has done historically because any coach worth his salt is going to let his roster dictate how he coaches the game.

  28. Racki says:

    I wouldn't mind seeing Penner drop to Gagner's line. O'Sullivan seems destined for the top line. Sometimes though I wonder if Horcoff is the best option there (some might say 'duh', but I've always been a big Horcoff supporter). This is no slag against Horcoff when I say that.. he could be better used on a more vet-2-way line.

    As for our top six, I've mulled over a few ideas, but I wonder how Cogliano O'Sullivan Hemsky would look for the top line and Penner Gagner Nilsson for line 2. I am hesitant to see Gagner with a couple of guys who have noticeably struggled to generate offence on a regular basis though. But wow would that top line ever be fast. Might be a bit too risky defensively though.

  29. Bank Shot says:

    I think Gagner is the keystone in any plans of making the playoffs this season.

    The Oilers' first line simply is not good enough to carry a team into the playoffs. They need a secondary threat.

    If Gagner hits 60+ points this season leading a strong second line, and I believe he is capable, then the Oilers should be able to make the dance.

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