I’ll do the ‘reasonable expectations’ series in late summer, but some of the work is available to be done now, and I do think it’s a good idea to ask some questions before the trades begin. If you live in Edmonton and know 12 people, I suspect you’ve heard one or both 89 and 64 are heading out of town at the draft. Is it true? Hell if I know, this town has Mike Babcock coming here every summer and I’ve heard Dustin Penner, Josh Bailey, Dion Phaneuf and Jason Spezza will all be here before I have to fill up the propane tank again.
We have more seasons of Gagner, and that makes things a little easier to assess/project. If we’re going to significantly nick Gagner for last season’s downward spiral, we have to come up with more than “struck by madman” as a reason. Sam Gagner is a solid offensive player in the world’s best league, and I don’t think many doubt he could kick out the jams playing RW alongside Sid Crosby (given the chance).
Ordinarily when projecting forward, I ask a few health and age questions, tweak based on experience, and call it a day. If we divide Sam’s last three seasons, we get this:
- 75GP, 17-33-50
I should tell you that I adjusted the lockout season, and credited 89 with a full schedule. What does this tell us? Well, his 12-13 boxcars were so strong they made up for a pedestrian injury season. It also tells us Sam Gagner is a good offensive hockey player. It’s easy to go out of our minds about his defensive play, but a strong two-way club with smart, veteran forwards could make something very nice out of this player. I think he’ll be a winger, but could be wrong, Sam’s a really smart hockey player.
If I were looking to finish that number and post an RE, I’d have a boo at his possible linemates, look at guys who are similar in player type to see if their offense is fading yet (Sam’s still so young, but one day this will impact him) and then make up some number. In this specific case, I’d likely nick him another 5 games and a point or two. Sam Gagner has never scored 50 points in a year, incredibly.
There’s two seasons of Yakupov, but we do have his final NHLE season and there’s some specific things about his career track we can work with in projecting the future. Yakupov’s rookie shooting percentage was crazy, and this year likely too severe. Something in the middle, say 14%, would seem reasonable, although I might aim low because there are issues that can come into play with Yak City. So, if I use his NHLE, combined with his two seasons, and then filter it through the shooting percentage, it might look like this:
- 69GP, 20-18-38
Now remember he was injured in his final junior season, so that’s factored in, too. I’ve used 14% and gave him a little push in shots because honestly even if they use the kid a little more on the power play he should flourish. Anyway, last season he had 122 shots in 63 games and his % was 9. In the fantasy season I’m projecting here, he plays 69 games, has 144 shots and scores 14% of the time. All completely reasonable, and I do think he’s the kind of player who can make projections look foolish. There’s so much talent and we simply don’t have enough to establish his level of ability (and last season didn’t help).
Anyway, I write this because there’s all kind of talk about these two players heading out of town, and the bottom line is this: There is NO way the Oilers are going to get 100 cents on the dollar when they deal either player. Ordinarily, in a situation of this kind, I’d say keep your powder dry and wait until the rising tide. That’s the play here, that’s the smart call.
I don’t know if Craig MacTavish can afford that kind of summer. We wait.