Exploring the Gagner Comps

One of the things we try to do on this blog is use comparables to give us an idea about how the future will roll out for young Oilers. Sam Gagner has been a favorite in this area, since he’s the highest draft pick in forever (for another 11 days) and because he turned pro at 18 (that’s quite a track record by age 20).

Previous efforts in this regard have given us two solid names from the past: Vincent Damphousse and Doug Gilmour. We’ve been tracking Vincent for awhile now, and with this season (Gilmour entered the NHL at age 20) we can add the third member of the group. Let’s post some numbers.

  • (.663) Gilmour 80gp, 25-28-53 +6 on a +1 team
  • (.640) Damphousse 75gp, 12-36-48 +2 on a -36 team
  • (.603) Gagner 68gp, 15-26-41 -8 on a -56 team

Gagner is behind offensively (looking at the boxcars) but he’s still in the range; it is especially interesting when we consider that Gilmour’s team scored 293 goals; Damphousse’s 259 and Gagner’s 214. The “percentage of team goals” that each player was involved in (player points divided by team goals) is much closer: Gilmour 18.1%; Damphousse 18.5%; Gagner 19.1%.

There are other elements to consider (icetime, special team totals/minutes) but we don’t have all of the necessary data to delve into those areas, so we’re left with the impression that Gagner belongs to the family at the lower range.

Is a small “g” Gilmour a fair comp? He looks closer to being Damphousse’s equal, is that an acceptable career? These are never completely fair comparisons, as one argument (Gagner at 20 was in his third year, while Gilmour was in his first) is countered by another (Gilmour clearly didn’t get the same PP minutes as Gagner) and yet another (Gagner ranked 2nd on his team in total points, compared to Gilmour’s 6th and Damphousse’s 7th, implying the comps had more offensive support than Gagner).

I’m satisfied that Sam Gagner is going to be a more complete player than most undersized skill centermen. I think much of his value will be in terms of offense, but it is also true that he is tracking as a useful outscorer even this early on (Rel Corsi 10.9, second best to Edmonton’s Babe Ruth, and his GF-GA was 37-43 on what was basically the 1899 Cleveland Spiders).

How good can he be? He’s in a very nice neighborhood.

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