RE 12-13: SAM GAGNER

Five years into his NHL career, Sam Gagner personifies the glass half full/empty argument: it all depends on your point of view. I think he’s going to have a wonderful career.

RE 12-13: 74, 19-36-55

  1. The Oilers aren’t sold on him.That press release was just about the hardest hitting journalism we’ve seen all summer, but it seems as though both sides were okay with a one year deal.
  2. Did you find anything objectionable in the release? Nah, just looked funny to me. It read like ‘we’re happy to have him but he’s got to be better’ and I can’t recall a previous Oiler release that had the theme.  Especially one that involved a 1M raise.
  3. He does need to be more consistent. You bet. The final stretch of the season showing wasn’t good enough. I’d say the early season struggles had to do with recovering from injury and Renney running his two scoring lines ragged. But I’d also give him credit for righting the ship.
  4. Gagner needs to play tougher competition. Agreed. I think the roster sets up nicely for him to center Taylor Hall and Ales Hemsky. If he can play reasonably tough opposition and take on some of the zone starts while helping that line outscore opponents, he’ll be a rich man this time next season.
  5. What’s the best thing you can say about him? He’s a sublime passer with excellent creativity and can make high skill plays in tight. Sam Gagner may not push the river, but if you give him Hall and Hemsky he’ll help make it flow.
  6. And? He plays a complete game, or at least is trending in that direction. The Sledgehammer graph tells us he’s in a good spot based on age and experience.
  7. So all he lacks is consistency? I’d say Gagner has been unable to play at a consistent level over a 40+ game period, but would also throw in lack of experience and lack of quality linemates as reasons. Plus injury.
  8. Excuses, excuses. Sam Gagner is a very young player for someone with his NHL experience. Oiler fans know what he can’t do, and seem to (at times, in my opinion) overlook the things he can do. Glass half empty.
  9. What’s he good at? Making money? Well, in the last 5 seasons, Edmonton has had 9 seasons of 40 or more points by a centerman. Sam Gagner owns 5, Shawn Horcoff 2 and then Cogliano and the Nuge had 1 each.
  10. Big whoop. How many times did he lead the team in points? None. Hemsky twice, Eberle twice, Penner. There’s no shame in finishing behind those guys.
  11. But he’s so inconsistent! Gagner’s troubles usually happen when he’s playing with subpar linemates. Most often, when given wingers like Penner-Hemsky or Hall-Hemsky, good things happen.
  12. Put anyone in between those two and he’ll score. That’s a wonderful slot, no doubt. However, Edmonton as it stands has enough wingers to post two impressive offensive lines. By any stretch, Gagner is on this team’s top 6 and that alone says something for him.
  13. Faceoffs are better? 47.6% in 700 sorties he’s been getting better the past couple of seasons. I think he’ll have his career at center, seems so much better in the middle.
  14. He sure isn’t the 2-way C you’d thought he’d be. He’ll be fine. Sam Gagner couldn’t drag this team out of the ditch but there’s a pretty long list of good young players standing beside him. With this kind of quality around him, Gagner is a very good bet to have a quality season in 12-13.
  15. He’s slow, weak and lacks grit. Oiler fans are starting to make those rumbling sounds again which probably means another season of JF Jacques on the Hemsky line. But it doesn’t change anything. Good players matched with good players send the puck in a good direction. Sam Gagner is a good player.
  16. Why do you like him so much? Lots of reasons. Given people he can work with offensively the chances come in bunches. He is extremely smart and brains are useful in all three zones. He’s been through his share of failures and come out the other side intact. Battle hardened. Sam Gagner has seen a lot of losing, but I don’t think anyone considers him a loser. It’s like looking at the part of the glacier above water: there’s just so much story to come.
  17. And he skates like a glacier, glad you brought that up. Lordy.
  18. What is his strongest asset? Passing. And intelligence.
  19. What could he be? An extremely productive 2line C behind RNH and a man capable of playing a 2-way role on a winning team.
  20. Will Oiler fans ever warm to him? I think Oiler fans like him fine and want him to succeed. The boxcars make him look like he’s been running in place but there’s progress and this kid is going to have a wonderful career. Glass half full.

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57 Responses to "RE 12-13: SAM GAGNER"

  1. Romulus Apotheosis says:

    LT,

    Your finger is so on the pulse of the typical objections to all these players that it is hard to add an interesting comment…

    Gagner, to my eyes, suffers from two things beyond his control that have dominated (unjustly in my view) the perception that surrounds him…

    1) his development. the Oil pouched his development. Logan Couture (same position, same draft) came up when he was ready, smaller learning curve, less expectations from fans and he benefits from being the “new hat”… fans care about how long you’ve been around more than your age.

    2) his size. I don’t think his size is a problem per se… but the hockey masses are clearly convinced centres ought to be behemoths… I don’t think that is necessarily the case… (of course… I’d take Kopitar in a heartbeat)

    I think those things… more than anything else have harmed his reception in Oilerland and beyond.

  2. Dipstick says:

    ~You couldn’t give him 20 goals, huh? Boy are you stingy.~
    Last year at this time, I was saying that he had to show reasonable progress or it might be time to move him. I think that I expected him to grow into a #1 center. If the expectation is reduced to #2, I think he can manage that.

  3. Lowetide says:

    Dip: I already have the Oilers improving substantially in GF as it is. Need to dock everyone!

  4. Rondo says:

    I know many people disagree with this but I would trade Sam Gagner in a second for Brandon Sutter.

  5. FPB94 says:

    I think people often have dillusions about centers, and how good you need them to be to be competitive.

    A guy who goes 20-35-55 for all his life would be fine at 2C. But a lot of cities would consider it subpar and call him a 3rd liner. Most people don’t realise how small the number of 55 PTS C is.

    I once hear Mikhail Grabovski being called a 3rd line center at best on competitive team. Like they shit 30 G scorers after breakfast,

    He needs a small step (10 points) to be good. He’s already got the hard work out of the way (+QC)

  6. BlacqueJacque says:

    Didn’t we all notice that Gagner, while not fast, did gain a step – especially before his injury? He’s not fast, certainly not like small players usually are, but he’s not exactly far behind average.

  7. Lowetide says:

    FPB94:
    I think people often have dillusions about centers, and how good you need them to be to be competitive.

    A guy who goes 20-35-55 for all his life would be fine at 2C. But a lot of cities would consider it subpar and call him a 3rd liner. Most people don’t realise how small the number of 55 PTS C is.

    I once hear Mikhail Grabovski being called a 3rd line center at best on competitive team. Like they shit 30 G scorers after breakfast,

    He needs a small step (10 points) to be good. He’s already got the hard work out of the way (+QC)

    Agreed. Grabovski is a helluva player. How you can be in Toronto and underrated is beyond me.

  8. FPB94 says:

    Lowetide,

    He’s a dirty (Bielo)Russian

  9. Downright Fierce says:

    BlacqueJacque,

    I’d argue that he had regained a step going into 11-12. At the outset of Summer 2010, Gags’ verbal was all ‘weight gain’ & ‘get stronger on the puck’. After that debacle of a year with no marked improvement in that area (but with a loss of acceleration/shiftyness IMO), Gagner went into last summer speaking about regaining agility & returning to his pre-weight gain regimen. I think what you’re seeing has more to do with that (versus a new outer marker for his speed) along with the further development of his anticipation/reaction speed at the NHL level.

  10. Matt.N says:

    So, the way I understand these ads on your website to work, you get paid a fraction of a cent for every time some one clicks on them and goes to the corresponding website. In an effort to repay you in some small way, I spent a few seconds clicking on the banners. This is how I found myself checking out the cougerlife website.

    That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

  11. jfry says:

    hey lt,

    when you’re done these, can you do an RE for wellwood, hansen and tallon? could be a funny comment thread ;)

  12. Reg Dunlop says:

    For anyone hoping for a bigger, stronger Gagner I have one name for you; Mike Rogers. As an Oiler rookie he had an 83 pt season, bulked up in the off-season, stunk the next year and was traded. His post-oil career, after he dropped back to his apprpriate playing weight, was EXEMPLARY.

    Sam is a 2nd line centre and will be a very good one with the wingers he will have. When he earns a large raise next summer everyone wins. He may not run over anyone but there is no room on the score sheet for that.

  13. TheOtherJohn says:

    Gagner is a very young complimentary player.

    That is, he contributes to and benefits from playing with good players. Good vision, yup. Good passer, absolutely. Ok skater. He is the 6th best offensive forward we have and 8th best forward on our team. If he gets a step faster and more consistent he could become the 5th best forward and just outside of the core of the team. I do not think that is likely but have been wrong many many times before. When Bossy scored 50 I told my friends he’d NEVER do that again

    He is not good enough to raise the level of play of lesser forwards

    Watched 8 points against Chicago and tracked that week or 10 days, absent that stretch, he had an ok to mediocre season.

    It is fully in our best interests to see if he can jump to a top 5 forward. If he can great. If he can’t find someone more suited to play 2C

    Heard Stauffer natter on and on about what a good offseason Tambellini had. The evidence: Yakupov and Schultz. In Total!! Nothing else. We paid for Yakupov selection with terrible hockey all season long and the GM had a good offseason by not screwing up 1OV? Schultz; Gretzky, Coffey, Hall and Krueger aside, was a product of: “you guys actually played Colten Tuebert 24 games in the NHL and signed Cam “3rd best D man” Barker as FA., holy shit, I can play 18 minutes a night even if I break my ankle”
    Think it is a GREAT pickup. But to give Tambellini credit for it is to say he is real good at assembling a mediocre defense.

    Let’s get on with building an NHL roster because the crew we just had (2011-2012) went 29th OV and was 20 points out of the playoffs. To date we are adding 2 rookies to that line up

    To put in context last year 41% of Cult of Hockey respondents predicted the Oilers would make the playoffs. We ended up 29th. This year 58% have us making the playoffs ……. By adding 2 rookies

  14. Kert says:

    BlacqueJacque:
    Didn’t we all notice that Gagner, while not fast, did gain a step – especially before his injury?He’s not fast, certainly not like small players usually are, but he’s not exactly far behind average.

    Makes me think of this, Dave Gagner’s thoughts on his son’s speed years ago,
    You’ll never be a rabbit, but we’ll make you a really fast turtle.

  15. Rebilled says:

    Staios to the Leaves to spy on Burke.

    Lowe is never gonna give this up!

  16. godot10 says:

    TheOtherJohn:

    He is not good enough to raise the level of play of lesser forwards

    Rookie season: Gagner raised the level of play of Cogliano and Nilsson, both of whom had their best season.

    Sophomore season: Erik Cole sucked with Horcoff and Hemsky. He didn’t with Gagner.

    3rd season: Penner has his best season as an OIler, playing a big chunk of the time with Gagner.

    4th season: Paajarvi had 15 goals and 30 some points. Omark played a lot of games in the NHL. They played a lot better with him than they did with Belanger this season.

  17. TheOtherJohn says:

    Godot

    Holy shit, your point is: other guys sucked, some of them didn’t suck quite as much playing with Gagner. That’s your defense of this player? Are you trying to make my point with examples? MPS had 30 pts playing with our 2C. That is not good! He’s a complimentary player, we get it, you made my point!!

    Note you did not quote the guys predicting Oilersrs making the playoffs last year (psst 29th or first runnerup to DFL) and again this year. Do you guys vote on your own? or simply wait for the Oilers PR department telling you how to vote?

  18. gogliano says:

    I’m predicting a 656 point season.

    2012-2013: The year Sam Gagner became consistent.

  19. Lowetide says:

    TheOtherJohn:
    r.Do you guys vote on your own? or simply wait for the Oilers PR department telling you how to vote?

    What on earth is this about? I don’t have any idea, but it seems we’re getting off track here.

  20. PaperDesigner says:

    godot10: Rookie season:Gagner raised the level of play of Cogliano and Nilsson, both of whom had their best season.

    Sophomore season:Erik Cole sucked with Horcoff and Hemsky. He didn’t with Gagner.

    3rd season:Penner has his best season as an OIler, playing a big chunk of the time with Gagner.

    4th season:Paajarvi had 15 goals and 30 some points.Omark played a lot of games in the NHL.They played a lot better with him than they did with Belanger this season.

    I think the truth is that Gagner can elevate his game to the level of whatever forwards he’s playing with, and drop off just as much. He’s a complementary talent in the best sense–he’s very good at helping other players play at the high, rather than the low, end of their abilities.

    He’s also a player that needs to stop being started on the third and fourth lines. He’s a top six player. Treat him as such.

    But no, I’m very optimistic about Gagner this season. I think he’s a very strong player that finally has enough offensive talent around him that he will be surrounded by strong offensive threats all season.

  21. Traktor says:

    FPB94:
    I think people often have dillusions about centers, and how good you need them to be to be competitive.

    A guy who goes 20-35-55 for all his life would be fine at 2C.

    55 points is plenty fine for a 2C

    Gagner 75 18 29 47
    Hanzal 64 8 26 34

    The problem is most Gagner fans are so focused on propping him up that they completely miss the point of the other side.

  22. Schitzo says:

    gogliano,

    Well, I think you’re being a little unrealistic.

    You think he’ll be able to play all 82 games?

  23. Traktor says:

    I love the skill that Edmonton has gathered the past couple seasons but also keep in mind that St Louis came within 2 points of winning the top seed in the NHL with a bunch of coke machines (their leading scorer had 54 points).

    I’m not saying we should ditch all our skill but I think we have a lot of it and could use some players that can play 5v5 while forcing the other team to play tough minutes.

    The best argument I’ve heard in favor of Horcoff and Belanger is that they are really good nails. Too bad we need a few hammers.

  24. jb says:

    Traktor: 55 points is plenty fine for a 2C

    Gagner 75 18 29 47
    Hanzal 64 8 26 34

    The problem is most Gagner fans are so focused on propping him up that they completely miss the point of the other side.

    Isn’t your point basically the grass is always greener?

    I think Gagner, Horcoff, and Hemsky are generally hated on for the same reason… They’ve been here soldiering through the last 5 years of losing, so people associate losing with these guys.. I’ve seen a ridiculous amount of OIler fans suggest Gagner/Horcoff/Hemsky are basically disposable.

    How many 22 year old second line centers are even out there? The guys never scored less than 40 points in a 5 year career. Sure his numbers seemingly flat-lined, but the team got progressively worse when he entered the league… I think maintaining your numbers in that situation is improvement.

    Is your issue simply size and play-style? If he were 6’4 220 and played exactly like he does now would that be acceptable? does that help us win more games? Or does he simply need to throw his body around and play reckless (the exact opposite of the intelligent cerebral type player) Would that make him good enough?

  25. Suntory Hanzo says:

    Rondo,

    I thought you meant Brett SUtter for a minute. I saw that guy whiff golden goals so many times playing for the Heat, it made Horcov look like the Golden Jet.

  26. Ducey says:

    TheOtherJohn,

    We have had this disagreement many times but you continue to ignore the fact that the Oilers will improve just thru the maturing of their players. John Tavares went 54, 67, 81 in his first three seasons on a pretty lousy team. He is best case scenario but the point is that improvement will occur internally.

  27. Ducey says:

    Rondo:
    I know many people disagree with this but I would trade Sam Gagnerin a second for Brandon Sutter.

    You’re right.

    Many people disagree with that. :)

  28. TheOtherJohn says:

    What on earth is this about?

    The comment was in relation to what seems to be a disconnect with reality. The Oilers are masters at  selling the complete disconnect. A year ago ago we were 30th (again), or as I think of it: DFL, and we made changes around the periphery of our roster: Smyth, Eager, Belanger, Barker etc. In response to those changes over 40% of the responding fans said they believed we could jump 14 spots into the playoffs with the addition of a single top 12 player: Smyth. That optimism was both very surprising and completely unfounded

    A year later, in a year that the GM explicitly AND expressly says he is targeting to add 2 top 4 D men, we sign our 1OV and J Schultz and, apparently, are now done. 

    No bigger bodies. Nobody harder to play against, no different complexion to our bottom 6 and we add Yak & a 22 year old rookie who had  better make the jump from college to pro seamlessly for no other reason other than we have no one else to fill that hole.Because we are still  2 top 4 D men short of an NHL defense 

    Now I realize we have young stars who should improve by simply being a year older. Ditto Dubnyk. But for that, plus Yak and J Schultz, we have. 29th place team plus 2rookies. The championship Oiler teams rolled over more players than that just to tread water and to stay in the same place. Us, not so much, 29th two changes and stand down.

    Astonishingly today 58% of the fans predict a playoff team. With little or no changes. Seriously, it’s like watching an episode of the Twilight Zone with very very little accountability.

    Duce

    We disagree on lots, and I do mean lots, but constant improvement has never been one of the areas we ever disagree on. I think. And I do not simply mean one year older = better

  29. Traktor says:

    Ducey:
    TheOtherJohn,

    We have had this disagreement many times but you continue to ignore the fact that the Oilers will improve just thru the maturing of their players.John Tavares went 54, 67, 81 in his first three seasons on a pretty lousy team.

    Where did the Islanders finish with all that internal improvement?

    I agree that Edmonton has some young players that should naturally improve with age but they also have some players that should do the opposite because of age. Smyth, Khabibulin, Horcoff, and Belanger are all trending in the wrong direction. Those guys are likely to be playing key roles that could make or break Edmonton’s playoff chances.

    It would be a shame to see the improvements of Edmonton’s youth be canceled out.

  30. TheOtherJohn says:

    Oh, oh Traktor is agreeing with me and I was not attacking S Horcoff.

    DUCK!!

  31. Traktor says:

    I think Edmonton’s playoff chances come down to a simple equation:

    How much can RNH and Gags kill soft opposition minus how bad Horcoff and Belanger get killed by tough opposition. That’s really what it comes down to.

    If I was the GM I would try to add some insurance. If any of those players struggle Edmonton could be hooped.

  32. Traktor says:

    TheOtherJohn:
    Oh, oh Traktor is agreeing with me and I was not attacking S Horcoff.

    DUCK!!

    I was actually wondering if there is two TheOtherJohns? I remember one of them used to always disagree with me and was snippy.

  33. Bos8 says:

    TheOtherJohn: Now I realize we have young stars who should improve by simply being a year older. Ditto Dubnyk. But for that, plus Yak and J Schultz, we have. 29th place team plus 2rookies. The championship Oiler teams rolled over more players than that just to tread water and to stay in the same place. Us, not so much, 29th two changes and stand down.
    Astonishingly today 58% of the fans predict a playoff team. With little or no changes. Seriously, it’s like watching an episode of the Twilight Zone with very very little accountability.
    Duce

    Sums up my read on the situation. Lots of flash and dash, very little nuts and bolts.

    As to Gagner – Coat tail kid. Give him Hall and Hemsky, he’ll vulture some points, mostly meh. Size issue – It’s not the size, it’s strength on the puck, it’s positional hockey. Again, meh.

  34. spoiler says:

    The quality I would wish for Samwise’s game is balance and strength on his skates. I’m okay with the passing giveaways, even Joe Thornton makes them, but it’s the times that he’s knocked to his knees or he blows a wheel because his brain conceives of what his feet can’t deliver, that are frustrating to watch. He doesn’t have great recovery speed so if he could keep his feet around the net to make a play, and also cut down on the take-me-out-of-the-play giveaways going back the other way, I think we would have a real deucent centre.

    Let’s see what he does under Nightmare. After numerous attempts, maybe this is the coach who flicks the switch to ON.

    And I like the 1 year contract. I think it is a good idea for both sides.

  35. spoiler says:

    But he’s still trade bait. And I don’t have a problem with that. I do credit the Oil though, for knowing what they have and not accepting any low ball offers.

  36. Ryan says:

    Is it just me or did the circular logo font change?

    Did it occur to anyone that Sam Gagner signed a one year contract because his girlfriend (RL) has one year left in medical school here in Edmonton? Coincidence?

  37. Bank Shot says:

    I like Gagner as a player and a person. I’m just not sure he’s a guy you can afford to pay. So far in his career, he has been like Mike Comrie, and I think the Oilers need a guy more like Mike Fisher.

    If Ryan Smyth is in the Oilers top six then they have one player in that group who is a solid two way hockey player. If not, they have zero that I would comfortably say is clearly above NHL average for a top six forward.

    I’m sure it will come in time, but if they want to win something on Yakupov’s entry level deal, they need to acquire some strong defensive presence in the top six sooner then later.

  38. remember reijo says:

    No doubt Gagner is the most polarizing player on this team now. Hemsky probably calls him everyday and tells him “Im so glad your here.” Gilbert might call him every second day and say “Sucks to be you Sam”
    I guess every team needs one, i just wish it wasnt Sam because i know what side I’m on.

  39. godot10 says:

    Bank Shot:
    I like Gagner as a player and a person. I’m just not sure he’s a guy you can afford to pay. So far in his career, he has been like Mike Comrie, and I think the Oilers need a guy more like Mike Fisher.

    Mike Fisher had 24 points at 22, and didn’t get 40 points till he was 26. 50 points at 27.

    So if Mike Fisher had till he was 26 or 27 to become an offensively competent 2nd line centre, why can’t Gagner have at least till 24 (2 more seasons) to become a fully defensely competent 2nd line centre, because offensively, Gagner is basically already there offensively. That would still be two full seasons before Fisher did.

  40. godot10 says:

    If the offensive threshold for a 2nd line centre is 50 points, Ryan Kesler didn’t reach that till he was 25.

    So if it takes Gagner 2 more seasons to improve his defensive game, he would become a relatively complete 2nd line centre at 24, still ahead of Kesler’s pace.

  41. godot10 says:

    Joe Pavelski. 2nd line centre. 1st 50 point season at 25.

  42. godot10 says:

    Patrick Sharp. First 50 point season at 27.

    David Bolland still hasn’t managed 50 points at 26. Has only had over 40 in the Stanley Cup year.

  43. godot10 says:

    Tomas Plekanec…1st time over 50 points at 25 years of age.

  44. godot10 says:

    Shawn Horcoff, 1st time over 50 points, at 27.

  45. godot10 says:

    I’ll concede the lockout year to Sedin, though he didn’t make 50 till the year after. Henrik Sedin, 50 points at 24.

  46. godot10 says:

    Golly gee. T.J. Oshie. 1st time over 50 points at 26.

  47. godot10 says:

    Brandon Dubinsky, 1st time over 50 points, at 25.

  48. godot10 says:

    So if the more defensively complete future 2nd line centres have till 25ish to become offensively competent 2nd line centres, why doesn’t an offensively inclined future 2nd line centre have till 24, to become a defensively competent 2nd line centre?

  49. godot10 says:

    And even if you don’t see Gagner in the Oilers’s future, with the wingers the Oilers now have, is not a pump-and-trade the better strategy to maximize the asset, rather than dumping him now for a severe discount?

  50. Dalton says:

    Godot just came in here and owned all of y’all.

    Sam Gagner is only going to get better, and I think he has a lot of potential.

  51. Traktor says:

    Dalton:
    Godot just came in here and owned all of y’all.

    Yeah, he compared a bunch of defensive studs to Sam Gagner. Talk about winning the internet.

    Maybe Wellwood will win a Selke this year and Semin will lead the league in PIM’s.

    Derp.

  52. uni says:

    Traktor,

    I think Godot10 just demonstrated that Gagner is still young and improving.

  53. Bank Shot says:

    godot10:
    So if the more defensively complete future 2nd line centres have till 25ish to become offensively competent 2nd line centres, why doesn’t an offensively inclined future 2nd line centre have till 24, to become a defensively competent 2nd line centre?

    Gagner played 3 minutes of shorthanded time last season. He faced weaker competition then 18 year old Nugent-Hopkins.

    The odds of Sam Gagner making the leap from sheltered offensive minutes guy, to strong defensive center in the next two seasons are so long its not funny.

    I’m not saying the Oilers should dump the guy for picks, but if an opportunity arises where the Oilers can acquire a Fisher/Pavelski/Sharp type player, they should be all over it, because there is virtually no chance that Gagner becomes that guy.

    Additionally, if Gagner puts up a bunch of points next season and there is an opportunity to trade him in a package for something more rare like a two way winger with grit, or a complete defender then the Oilers should make that move. It’s easier to replace a decent scorer, with average to below average defence then it is to acquire a lot of other player types. Just look at the price paid for Ribeiro at the draft,

  54. Woodguy says:

    Traktor,

    How much can RNH and Gags kill soft opposition minus how bad Horcoff and Belanger get killed by tough opposition. That’s really what it comes down to.

    When we look at the Sledgehammer graph we see that while Gagner and RNH received the easier zone starts, both played better quality of competition than Belanger.

    Match ups are fluid and differ on the road than at home, so the charts help us see what the end results were.

    I’m thinking along the lines of your thinking but I’d express it as:

    With the offensive pairs seeming to be RNH-Eberle; Gagner-Hemsky (via interview with Krueger) a significant determinant of the OIler’s winning games is that when one of those pairs is facing the top pairing D, the other pair needs to make hay and outscore.

    Coupled with that is the need for Smyth-Horcoff pair to not get killed with poor ozone starts against the other teams best.

    The Oilers have enough talent that the 4th line doesn’t have to be a black hole of offensive. Harksi, Belanger, MPS, or whoever Kruger puts there needs to do a little outscoring as well. Or at least not get killed like last year.

    Playing Belanger-Hordichuck-Petrell is a sure way to never have the puck in the Ozone and rely on the other lines to make up the deficit.

    Playing Belanger-Harski and a double shifted Hall/Yak while Hordi sits for most of the game may allow the 4th to outscore and take the pressure off the line above.

    The biggest deal though is who is playing D behind these lines.

    Smid and Petry held their own against the NHL’s best, but Barker, Whitney and Shultz lost the puck possession battle.

    If Shultz and Shultz can hold their own playing 2nd pairing, things are much brighter for the Oilers.

  55. Downright Fierce says:

    I know the new post generally kills the preceding thread, but there’s too much about this (and Traktor’s) comment that bothers me…

    Bank Shot: Gagner played 3 minutes of shorthanded time last season. He faced weaker competition then 18 year old Nugent-Hopkins. The odds of Sam Gagner making the leap from sheltered offensive minutes guy, to strong defensive center in the next two seasons are so long its not funny.

    See, this is an area where I get uncomfortable with QualComp. Unless you can show me a large number of examples to prove it’s reliability, the act of projecting a player’s ability to play toughs based on his 18, 19, 20 & 21 year old seasons seems ridiculous. Yes: defensive acumen can be projected, but it certainly is not always evident early in the careers of future–ahem– defensive studs. Defense can come, just like offense. Professor X does not get a psychic alert when some teenage hockey player’s Defensive Gene activates. Hogwarts does not send off a letter-toting owl to an unaware Defensive Wizard languishing in his aunt & uncle’s crawlspace. These defensive studs’ skills are not honed in secret, okay? They just happen to excel at that side of the game earlier.

    If you disagree, please list all proven 40-point centres that reached their defensive ceiling at 22. Will there be some negative examples? Sure. But there will also be plenty of positives. Who’s overlooking what now?

    I’m not saying the Oilers should dump the guy for picks…

    I sincerely hope no one is saying that.

    …but if an opportunity arises where the Oilers can acquire a Fisher/Pavelski/Sharp type player, they should be all over it, because there is virtually no chance that Gagner becomes that guy.

    Again: “virtually no chance?” Seriously? At least explain why you’re dismissing the converse argument so flippantly.

    Additionally, if Gagner puts up a bunch of points next season and there is an opportunity to trade him in a package for something more rare like a two way winger with grit, or a complete defender then the Oilers should make that move. It’s easier to replace a decent scorer, with average to below average defence then it is to acquire a lot of other player types.

    Sooo, in your opinion, a 50-60 (is that ‘a bunch’?) point Sam Gagner is trade bait for one of the team’s holes: Smytty 2.0 or a Top 4D that can pass & hit. Great (seriously, either would be fantastic additions). Now please illuminate me as to how one gets to the magical forest filled with low-hanging, complete second line centres ripe for the picking?

    Just look at the price paid for Ribeiro at the draft.

    Cody Eakin & the 54th?! Lordy, I do believe I have the vapors. Mr. Bank Shot, you do go on. No one would ever part with such dear assets for a defensive centre, surely not on this earthly plane. If the Oilers got a comparable return for Sam Gagner, I would punch myself in the balls until infinity.

    Dallas also traded Ott & Pardy (super rare & valuable defensive studs) for DEREK ROY.

  56. russ99 says:

    As part of my ongoing series of Renney-based conspiracy theories, is there any hockey resource online that has a basic or advanced stats and record of games played by offensive position (yes I know players can play any of center or either wing in the course of a game) and with specific linemates? Something like a hockey version of fangraphs?

    The point I’m hoping to prove is that Gagner’s numbers were lower than expected due to Renney’s ill-fated RW experiment and then having Gagner play on non-skill lines the first half of the season.

    If there’s a way to isolate points/RelCorsi based on the first half (RW/centering non-skill) and second half (2nd line C), I think it would prove my point that Gagner would have put up much better numbers had he played the whole year on the second line.

    OK, taking the tinfoil hat off now…

  57. Bank Shot says:

    Downright Fierce,

    Most centers that are very strong offensively and defensively start off at least decent defensively from the get go. No coach was afraid to give Kesler, Richards, Staal, or O’Reilly a defensive zone faceoff when they first broke into the league. You can’t say that for Sam even in his 5th season.

    Gagner’s defence has come along, but you can’t call it a strength, and he lacks the skating for it to ever become so IMO. He’ll get more well rounded no doubt, but he has so far to go its unreasonable to expect him to ever become a very strong defensive player.

    Yes. Sam can be trade bait. Complete centers are extremely hard to find, there is no low hanging tree for them. No easy pickings. Sam isn’t one of those players. The Oilers could use him to fill a need, and replace him more easily as a result.

    Defensive players aren’t that hard to get like Pardy and Ott. Two way players are. I’m not sure where you are going with your ball punching rant.

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