Exploring the Gagner Comps

I promised to update all season on Sam Gagner and his comps, and with so few good things to talk about it might be an apt time to see if hope floats or we’re heading for the crying game.

Gagner was a high pick in 2007, rushed to the majors despite footspeed, strength and size issues. He has a history of starting slowly and ending with a rush. Gagner is developing at a faster rate than fellow 2007 Oiler rookie Andrew Cogliano, and would appear at this point to be playing the Shawn Horcoff role (with Cogs as Comrie) in the 2007 edition of famous rookies.

How is he tracking in regard to the historic comps? I’ll get to that, but do want to post some of his situational stats before the boxcars.

Sam Gagner is facing (all according to Desjardins) softer opposition at this point in the season. The only regular forwards facing easier loads are Robert Nilsson, Mike Comrie, Gilbert Brule and Zack Stortini. Sam Gagner is playing with the best available linemates accoring to Gabriel, which means he’s in an ideal situation to succeed. We don’t know what Damphousse and Gilmour were doing at the same age but it is impossible for them to have been placed in a better spot than Gagner has enjoyed according to Desjardins.


The good news is that his relative Corsi is among the best on the team. Only Hemsky, Stone and Penner are well clear of the kid, and he’s been fairly consistent in this area so far in 09-10. His PDO and on-ice save percentage are below par so we can factor those things into his plus minus.

Gagner’s 5×5/60 number is low (1.46) but we can’t blame his zonestart, which is about level based on the latest Desjardins.

So before we get to the comps, I’d say we’re dealing with a solid 20-year old player without the puck (he’s actually excellent for his age in this area) and a somewhat disappointing 20-year old player when his team has possession. It’s a long season, but we may be dealing with Von Hayes here as opposed to a future MVP.

The comps
  • (.663) Gilmour 80gp, 25-36-63 +6 on a +1 team
  • (.640) Damphousse 75gp, 12-36-48 +2 on a -36 team
  • (.553) Gagner 38gp, 8-13-21 -7 on a -11 team

Gagner’s numbers are down in the comparable from last time (November 19) and he’s certainly off the pace. The danger of course is that there is still half a season to go and we do know that Gagner is basically all of 4 points of the pace of the two comparables. This total in the sample size would be considered in the realm of “random” by our friend math, who suggests “shit luck” could swallow the entire difference as an appetizer.

I think he’s fine. It looks like the Oilers are going to get a more complete player than many (certainly me–thanks Louise!) of us thought and even at 20 he’s showing a wide range of skills. An example would be faceoffs: he’s at 49.6% in 393 sorties this season, which compares well to last season (42.% in 690 sorties).

The lesson of Sam Gagner–and this is for the organization as much as the fans–is patience. The kid is 20. We need to chill.

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