Since the All-Star break, Sam Gagner is 5, 8-7-15 +6. His shooting percentage is in the 40′s. He is playing with the team’s best wingers and the dropoff at this point from 1-2 to 3-4 is astounding. We know this isn’t sustainable (not with that shooting percentage) but perhaps a better question is “has Sam Gagner turned a corner?”
Gagner has done more in the last 5 games to get noticed than he has since his draft day. All over the NHL we’re hearing Gagner talk–the good kind. Is this a legit move forward or is Sam Gagner all hat and no cattle?
I spent quite a bit of time (and as always this blog’s comments section provided good direction) comparing Gagner with two former NHL C’s–Doug Gilmour and Vincent Damphousse. I’m wondering how each of them did in their early 20′s, if one or more of them took a step forward at the same time as Sam appears to be.
- Gagner at 21 .618
- Gagner at 22 .766
- Damphousse at 21 .85
- Damphousse at 22 1.175
- Gilmour at 21 .731
- Gilmour at 22 .716
- Gilmour at 23 1.3125
All ages are from hockey-reference, the NHL standard for age is what your birth certificate reads on opening night of each season. Damphousse stepped out at the same age and it took Gilmour one more season to blossom offensively. Gagner? Well, he still has many games to play this season and he could have a long dry spell that will spoil this little run.
However, based on the comparables used years ago to frame Gagner’s possible future, predicting an upturn in his offense and overall play would be reasonable based on age and experience.
A quick note about the numbers: if we adjusted for league offense, Gagner’s totals would rise relative to the other two. In Gilmour’s 23 year old season, the average NHL team scored 294 goals, in Damphousse’s 22 year old season the league average was 295. This season’s league average is going to be around 226 based on the first 53 games across the NHL.