Sam Gagner: High Tide and Green Grass (Mannish Boy)

Sam Gagner is 20 years old and an NHL veteran (223 games). Coach Quinn and Oiler fans seemed somewhat impatient during parts of this season for the kid to turn a corner and become that responsible center the club hoped for when plucking Dave Gagner’s kid 6th overall in 2007 summer.

Each of us has a “mental clock” in our brains that begins ticking the moment we become aware of a prospect (no matter the sport). After a few years we become impatient for said prospect to emerge as an actual NHL player. If the player is running in place, it could mean this is his ceiling, his outer marker.

Is Sam Gagner progressing?

  • Boxcars: 68gp, 15-26-41
  • Shots: 170
  • Plus Minus: -8
  • Corsi (Rel): 10.9 (2nd to Penner)
  • GF-GA ON: 37-43
  • 5×5/60: 1.56 (4th among regulars)
  • 5×4/60: 5.74 (1st among regulars)
  • Quality of Competition: 12th F
  • Quality of Teammates: 1st F
  • FO %: 47.4% in 709 FO’s
  • Offensive Zone FO %: 48.8 (4th easiest F)
  • Cap Hit: $1.625M (RFA)
  1. What do these numbers tell us? In a season that was rife with disappointment, Gagner has some nice arrows. His Corsi is 2nd among forwards to Penner, meaning he delivered on ideal circumstances (best teammates, easiest opposition) and one suspects his 1.56/60 would have been better if this team wasn’t so riddled with flu, injury etc. Gagner remains a cerebral player whose passing skills in close are ridiculous.
  2. How Could these numbers be better? This was a painful season for the Edmonton Oilers. Gagner played ideal minutes and delivered a fine Corsi. However, the offense wasn’t as strong at 5×5 and a more experienced center would have done more. Gagner was unable to be a difference maker at EVs, and he’ll need to improve because those ideal minutes are likely to be the domain of Tyler Seguin next year.
  3. Anything Else in this area? Age, experience and maturity. Gagner isn’t a big man but increasingly we see him win puck battles and knock others off the puck. I think that’s a sign of the development being made. He does have some way to go in the maturity department based on Quinn’s exit interview (he said “Sam didn’t get as many points as he thought he should get” and then proceeded to talk about maturity and wanting to play on the top line being an earned job). This season seemed to be about improving in underlying, subtle ways but I think his breakout offensive season is just around the corner.
  4. What about that PP number? We’ve talked about this for a couple of years now, but Gagner will eventually take away Horcoff’s PP time and that 5×4 total suggests it should be now. It’ll be interesting to see if the club can use both Gagner and Hemsky (similar skills) on the same powerplay and have success.
  5. What about Seguin? I think the OHL star could be a perfect addition for the Oilers long term. Gagner is a little older but can lend some guidance and since both are centers they can push each other for ice time. Draft pedigree suggests that Seguin will be the better player, but 89 should be superior for the first season (and possibly beyond) they play together.
  6. Will Quinn play him against tougher opposition? I am discouraged about Pat Quinn, but do think Gagner will play more difficult minutes in the future. I find myself thinking back to the way MacT handled Hemsky and am just this side of melancholy about the development of the current kids. Those who wanted MacTavish gone aren’t going to like the future, when the 18-22 year olds don’t become the players we hoped for on their draft day.
  7. How Important is Gagner to this team? Less important than he was a year ago. A new golden boy will be anointed at the draft and the club will have to start paying Gagner now. The Oilers will look at him with a more critical eye beginning in the fall.
  8. How are the comps coming? At ag 20, Vincent Damphousse was 75gp, 12-36-48 (.640) +2 on a team that was -36. At age 20, Doug Gilmour was 80gp, 25-28-53 (.663) +6 on a team that was +1. At age 20, Sam Gagner was 68gp, 15-26-41 (.603) -8 on a team that was -56. The comps look good at this time, with our guy trailing the field but still in the photo. Gagner’s Oilers were a Denver boot to offense, scoring 214 total goals (Gilmour’s 293, Vincent’s 259) so we need to spend some time with the addiator.
By The Numbers
  • 07-08 5×5 per 60m: 1.96
  • 08-09 5×5 per 60m: 1.69
  • 09-10 5×5 per 60m: 1.56
By The Numbers
  • 07-08 5×4 per 60m: 3.88
  • 08-09 5×4 per 60m: 3.12
  • 09-10 5×4 per 60m: 5.74

Predictions Past 2009-10: 78gp, 20-40-60 (.769)
Performance in 2009-10: 68gp, 15-26-41 (.603)

Projected Role on 2010-11 Oilers: Skill C, increased PP time

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