Sam Gagner signed a three-year contract with the Edmonton Oilers this summer, and now–finally–team and player have matured to the point where they must stand and deliver. Together.
RE 13-14: 82, 15-37-52
- Well, these numbers look, well, puny. I think Gagner is going to play more minutes this year, and those minutes will include more defensive zone starts. He’s also going to get fewer prime PP minutes (2:55 last season) and more PK minutes (1:35) per game. The Horcoff leaving impacts Gagner more than any other.
- So the numbers won’t be there? Gagner finished in a 16th place tie league-wide in PP assists (11), I think the Nuge will grab those minutes back–or at least the 1PP minutes. Gagner will be busy getting less attractive minutes, both on the PP and EVs.
- Minutes Horcoff got a year ago? Right. I think Gordon’s line will be the zone start guys, and that impacts their numbers. Gagner will get tougher zone starts than he did a year ago (51.4% 4th easiest among regular forwards) and he played 2nd line opposition–that is likely to remain the same. I think it impacts his EV totals slightly, and of course his reduced PP time leaves us here.
- How secure is Gagner? NOW? He’s golden, just signed and the GM praised him moments before taking office. The SAME general manager said yesterday “It’s incumbent on everybody in that locker-room to really work to provide the type of working environment we want. The type of productive, hard-working, non-complaining culture we want. And I’m going to be diligent in my decision-making in terms of weeding out the complainers.”
- Wow. Who was he talking about? Usually, losing teams have grumpy veterans. That’s just the way it is–veterans who don’t get to play, or play the role they wanted to play, or were promised. Last year’s grumps might have included Eric Belanger, Ryan Whitney, veterans who are basically watching their careers trail off into the distance without any chance of return.
- It’s funny, a lot of last season’s team hasn’t been signed. Probably not funny, and maybe not surprising. There’s a lot of talent still available, and the goalies plus Peckham are signed with Belanger heading out of the league. Whitney would have been signed day one, there’s no way his value would be this low without injury.
- Let’s get back to Samwise. How bad was he? His line was bad at shot differential, and that’s a key indicator of success. Sam’s 5×4/60 and the fact that the line cashed (shooting percentage is also amazingly consistent) a lot of their chances makes the boxcars look stronger than they might have with less luck for him and the line. Yakupov’s shooting percentage was a major help.
- What happened to that line? They didn’t get as many pucks at the net as one would think with the zone starts they owned, and it wasn’t a small thing. Dellow’s been doing great work, if you haven’t read his big data series then please do. It’s fascinating and Tyler’s getting an answer via all that work.
- I don’t like to wait–what was wrong with that line? As I said, read Dellow’s stuff. They were collapsing to the puck, and none of the forwards were driving to the net, so they’d get the puck possession and be within two feet of each other–not difficult to cover that trio!
- Are you surprised they signed him to that contract, and brought in Perron? No, that’s about right.
- NO? Come on! You didn’t see that coming. I wrote about it here in May (answer #13): What are they going to do with Gagner? I’ll guess they sign him to a three-year, $4.65M per year deal and set him up with a strong LW to go with Yakupov on the 2line.
- So, where do we go from here? One thing we haven’t talked about is how successful this line will need to be; I imagine the trio will be 89-Perron-64 but Hemsky is back and that may change things too. Either way, this line HAS to deliver a better shot differential and reduce the zone time in the Edmonton end of the rink. The gap between 1 and 2 lines on this team can’t remain this wide, or they’re going nowhere. I think Eakins will figure it out, he has Acton and Billy Moores now, and MacT’s a career coach too.
- You know Lowetide, you keep talking about systems and chaos and possession but you’re not being clear. WHAT will change? I’m not sure I know the answer, all I can tell you is the anecdotal–that’s where my fan’s ability to see the game ends and the guys who are paid to succeed in hockey take over. I know (courtesy Tyler) the Oilers 2nd line was getting fewer shots in the golden seconds between an offensive zone faceoff and end sortie, I know Nick Schultz pinched like he was a dog chasing a whistle none of the other dogs could hear as he’d drive into the opponent’s zone while the puck passed him and the jailbreak began (again). I know people keep saying the Oilers should just dump the puck in when all of the evidence (read Tulsky’s stuff on this) suggests it’s a loser’s bet and I know more than one line executed zone entry the wrong way all damn season long. I know there was so much wasted effort it was a crime to watch, let alone do all that skating. I know the hockey we saw last year is extremely unlikely to reappear because it doesn’t work. I know those things, but I can’t absolutely say the Oilers should adopt a specific system. Find a way to win possession that doesn’t involve huddling up three feet behind the FO circle as soon as puck drop, and in the name of all that is holy find that damn dog whistle that’s getting Schultz excited!
- Why this song? Gagner’s got pressure, all of the centers do. Gordon is imo a Godsend, but losing Horcoff means you’re back to three centermen and then a bunch of guys trying to make the grade. That means more minutes and more pressure and for Gagner it could mean the third and fourth best wingers on the team most nights. I think there’s a chance he spends a prolonged period with Hall and that could change things, but even then he’s under pressure.
- Is there a chance he blossoms? Of course. Sam Gagner is an excellent young player, he’ll be quality for years even if he just stays at this level. If he can turn it up another notch, well the playoffs are a promise.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
The Lowdown hits the airwaves at 10 this morning (Team 1260) and we have quite the lineup today. Calls and texts and tweets welcome. Scheduled to appear:
- Rob Vollman from ESPN and Hockey Prospectus visits to give us a book update (hockeyabstract.com) and we’ll have a long look at the 13-14 Oilers and their chances of success.
- Matt Gresiuk my soccer insider is going to break my heart with news on Gareth Bale’s future.
- Rob Soria from Oil Drop will talk Billy Moores, strategies to improve the 2line and will Ryan Smyth spend the season at center?
- Brian King (PDO!) will discuss the Eskimos and their early season.
- Kent Simpson Oil Kings color commentator will touch base on the Oil Kings one month away from getting things started all over again!!!! We’ll talk changes in the roster and I’ll ask about their chances this coming season.
@Lowetide_ on twitter and 10-1260 via text. Hope you can tune in!