Center

I’ve been reading a lot recently about Sam Gagner and the 2010 draft. The general idea is summed up here by Salim Valji: “Also, if the Oilers select Seguin, it will be a sign that they feel Sam Gagner is, at best, a No. 2 center. At just 20 years old and with over 200 NHL games already, there is time for Gagner to develop into a solid No. 1 center. Playing with Hall, who is considered NHL-ready, could elevate Gagner’s game siginficantly.”

I understand the point Mr. Valji is making, but would disagree with some of it. I completely concur that Gagner has time to grow into the C job, but would also suggest that a 2line difference maker has exceptional value. Steve Yzerman (behind Fedorov), Peter Forsberg (behind Sakic) and Evgeni Malkin (behind Crosby) were all key elements on championship teams.

There’s also a transition period to consider. In my season ending look at Gagner, I suggested the following about drafting Seguin:

  • 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.

There are some negatives with taking Seguin (they are similar players) but one of the real positives about a Seguin/Gagner combination is that they display a more complete set of skills. Gagner has improved without the puck and shows both an ability to approach defense from a cerebral point of view and a desire to learn that side of the game. Seguin (from the scouting reports) appears to have the same resume.

The Oilers were deep down the middle spring 2006; they were also deep down the middle from the time Messier moved to C until they traded him. A Seguin-Gagner combination at the top of the C depth chart gives the new cluster an excellent chance to have exceptional centermen.

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