Samwise

Lowetide
November 25 2010 10:32PM

The pack of hyenas that makes up the irrational portion of the Oilers fanbase has found new prey. They have moved past Shawn Horcoff, last year's victim. They've beaten up on Tom Gilbert this fall, but the quality of the blue overall is so bad that pointing a finger at 77 seems both cruel and dangerous. It looks like the new whipping boy is none other than former golden child Sam Gagner.
 

Sam Gagner is 21 years old. He has played his entire NHL career on a terrible team, and each season managed to be one of their top 5 scorers. He's also improving in some secondary areas, to the point where the Edmonton Oilers may actually have two NHL calibre centers (the other being Horcoff).

Let's begin our look at Sam Gagner with the two loudest voices in the crowd currently:

  1. He doesn't deliver enough offense
  2. He doesn't deliver anything else

Let's start with the offense. If we can agree that the best judge of offensive ability is even strength scoring, then Gabriel Desjardins dandy 5x5/60 metric gives us a quick look into how things are going.

  1. Ryan Jones (2.24 in limited play)
  2. Ales Hemsky (2.11)
  3. Sam Gagner (2.03)
  4. Dustin Penner (1.98)

The complete list is here and as one might expect the young rookies are well down the list. No surprise, the NHL is the toughest league on the planet and the Oilers are running those kids out there at an incredible clip. All those 15 minute nights add up unless you're delivering offense consistently.

WHAT ABOUT CORSI?????

Jim Corsi's measuring stick is a terrific help when trying to figure out who's helping over the course of a season. We certainly need to view this puppy through an adjusted lens, but the overall picture is pretty damn clear. Here are the relCorsi numbers for Edmonton's forwards so far this season:

  1. Taylor Hall 15.6
  2. Dustin Penner 15.2
  3. Jordan Eberle 12.0
  4. Sam Gagner 9.4
  5. Shawn Horcoff 6.8
  6. Ales Hemsky 3.9
  7. Andrew Cogliano 0.0
  8. Steve MacIntyre -7.0
  9. Gilbert Brule -7.3
  10. Zack Stortini -8.6
  11. Ryan Jones -18.2
  12. Magnus Pääjärvi -19.4
  13. Colin Fraser -19.8
  14. JF Jacques -35.9

The top 2 lines (Horcoff-Hall-Eberle and Gagner-Penner-Hemsky) were doing exceptionally well considering the nuclear disaster that is the Oilers blueline. Cogliano, MacIntyre, Brule and Stortini are below sea level relCorsi but there are lots of reasons for that and I don't think we can blame any of them for sins real or imagined so far this season.

Ryan Jones, Colin Fraser and Pääjärvi are getting killed by this measure and I'm prepared to admit that Fraser has been a very disappointing player. You may wonder about Jones appearing so high in scoring and so low in Corsi, but that imo has a lot to do with low time on ice per game and luck. If Jones can deliver the kind of offense shown in 5x5/60 all season long he's going to have a career.

GAGNER IS WAY BEHIND

No. He's right on time. Sam Gagner's entire NHL career has been played outside the playoffs. It's ridiculous to blame the youth of a team for not winning; the real culprit here is a lack of depth blue and 3-4 line forwards who can play the game to something near even.

Losing organizations blame their best players (example: Montreal Expos dealing Gary Carter) and hopeless organizations trade their youth (example: NYI, Maple Leafs) miles before they're ready.I've seen and heard a few things over the last week or so in regard to Sam Gagner's inability to step forward. I find it amazing that people feel this way, since he is:

  • on pace for his first 20-goal season
  • leads the team in EV scoring (5-5-10)
  • is playing 14.5 minutes a night at even strength and is managing a 5x5/60 number above 2.00

The Edmonton Oilers have a lot of problems. Sam Gagner isn't one of them.

C2a6955161684b5e3189319acfa5ebe4
Lowetide has been one of the Oilogosphere's shining lights for over a century. You can check him out here at OilersNation and at lowetide.ca. He is also the host of Lowdown with Lowetide weekday mornings 10-noon on Team 1260.
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#101 Dennis
November 26 2010, 01:48PM
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I think there are a lot of good points being made here and it's not 89's fault but, yeah, it's unlikely he's gonna turn into a dominant #1 pivot.

That being said he's not a bad player and he's worth holding onto; or at least at this stage.

The point I didn't see mentioned here is that all draft classes aren't equal and the Oil were unfortunate enough to have a high pick in the '07 draft year because there doesn't appear to be any special players from that group except maybe Kane.

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#102 Wax Man Riley
November 26 2010, 02:10PM
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bdaZZler wrote:

Why is there a picture of my wife's bum on here???

Heeeeyyyy .... it's my girlfriend's bum. We meet up every once in a while for a quick shag......uhhhh.... oooopss....

sorry bdaZZler

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#103 Matt
November 26 2010, 02:12PM
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"The Edmonton Oilers have a lot of problems. Sam Gagner isn't one of them."

Lowetide yes the Oil do have lots of problems and yes Sam Gagner is one of them. You can pull out shayne corsi numbers or whatever to convince yourself otherwise but sometimes the truth hurts. We got unlucky that the 07 draft was so poor.

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#104 Oilers89
November 26 2010, 02:19PM
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Good post lowetide, I have actually noticed that Gagner has improved quite a bit, there has been games where I have wondered who the player streaking down the ice is and it turns out to be Gagner. His top speed has improved alot and his defensive game is coming along nicely, if he puts on some weight for the next few years he could be a very good second line centre or at least a passible first. He is also having a very good start and with Gagner he always seems to be a completely different player in the second half of the year, so expect his stats to look better than what he is on pace for now.

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#105 cg
November 26 2010, 02:57PM
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@Matt

pfft - ok Matt

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#106 Dominoiler
November 26 2010, 03:09PM
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WHOA!!!!!!

That is an Ass shot.. holy smokes...

umm.. gagner, yeah,..

LT, when did you get so.. not-subtle?!.. hehe..

As an aside: Gagner has been a bit of a goat for me too, but lets be clear - it isnt blogosphere induced.. he just seems weak, often.. more than a few times I've cursed another dead play as his fault.. and his totals are lukewarm.. but he does try and once in a while he does something noteworthy.. plus, he is taking on line one responsibilities so it is safe to say he is going to get exposed a little more (better D).. and he is one of two on the roster, so quit bitchn i guess..

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#107 Bain
November 26 2010, 03:22PM
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father Dave did not bless this kid with good genes.

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#108 C-DOG
November 26 2010, 03:49PM
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Woodguy wrote:

DSF,

Its interesting that you mention Couture.

He was drafted 9th after Gagner was drafted 6th.

Unlike Gagner, the Sharks didn't rush Couture and after playing 25 games last year, he's now a full time NHL'er.

This year's boxcars:

Gagner 21gp 5g 6a 11pts -4 Couture 20gp 8g 4a 12pts +3

5v4 TOI/60

Gagner 3.01 Couture 3.18

So they look very similar, although Couture is better on face offs.

Why do you think Couture is so much better than Gagner?

I think its a good example of wasting young player's RFA years. San Jose has 2 more years of Couture as an RFA.

Actually Couture has 4 more years of rfa status. Couture is much better because he already has a good all around game that his g.m raves about and can win faceoffs at the same age as Gagner, and those lovely little arrows lowtide likes to talk about are pointing up for him were it counts to being a centre.

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#109 Digger
November 26 2010, 04:19PM
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"The Edmonton Oilers have a lot of problems. Sam Gagner isn't one of them."

You know, not to pick on you in particular, LT...but looking back over the past couple of seasons I swear to God I've heard the following from numerous guys, both here and elsewhere:

"Sam Gagner is not the problem" "Ales Hemsky is not the problem" "Shawn Horcoff is not the problem" "Tom Gilbert is not the problem" "Dustin Penner is not the problem" "Ryan Whitney is not the problem" "Andrew Cogliano is not the problem"

That's a lot of key payers that supposedly aren't "the problem", yet this team found a way to finish DEAD LAST a season ago, and look dead set on finishing no better than bottom 3 this season...and they've not even begun to ring up the usual season-ending injuries that they invariably do.

It kinda makes me ponder two question:

1 - What IS the problem? 2 - If they're not the problem, does that necessarily mean they're the solution?

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#110 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
November 26 2010, 05:03PM
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Digger wrote:

"The Edmonton Oilers have a lot of problems. Sam Gagner isn't one of them."

You know, not to pick on you in particular, LT...but looking back over the past couple of seasons I swear to God I've heard the following from numerous guys, both here and elsewhere:

"Sam Gagner is not the problem" "Ales Hemsky is not the problem" "Shawn Horcoff is not the problem" "Tom Gilbert is not the problem" "Dustin Penner is not the problem" "Ryan Whitney is not the problem" "Andrew Cogliano is not the problem"

That's a lot of key payers that supposedly aren't "the problem", yet this team found a way to finish DEAD LAST a season ago, and look dead set on finishing no better than bottom 3 this season...and they've not even begun to ring up the usual season-ending injuries that they invariably do.

It kinda makes me ponder two question:

1 - What IS the problem? 2 - If they're not the problem, does that necessarily mean they're the solution?

Plain and simple, depth.

With the exception of Hemsky and Maybe Penner all of those guys are being asked to play out of their comfort zone.

3/4 dmen being asked to play 1/2 minutes and competition, 2nd line forwards being asked to contribute/play against first liners.

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#111 Robin Brownlee
November 26 2010, 06:13PM
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"It looks like the new whipping boy is none other than former golden child Sam Gagner."

I've seen Willis compare Gagner favorably in certain aspects of the game to Patrick Kane as well as prominent older players based on production at a certain age etc.

Is the "golden child" reference made with that in mind or what you've preceived as the opinion of fans in general?

And Tom Gilbert has been beaten up because he's been mostly awful this season.

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#112 Jonathan Willis
November 26 2010, 06:33PM
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#114 Woodguy
November 26 2010, 07:11PM
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C-DOG wrote:

Actually Couture has 4 more years of rfa status. Couture is much better because he already has a good all around game that his g.m raves about and can win faceoffs at the same age as Gagner, and those lovely little arrows lowtide likes to talk about are pointing up for him were it counts to being a centre.

A mistake of omission, I meant to type:

"San Jose has 2 more years of Couture as an RFA than the Oilers do with Gagner"

The preceding sentence was talking about wasting young players RFA years, and criticizing the Oilers.

and those lovely little arrows lowtide likes to talk about are pointing up for him were it counts to being a centre.

Yes they are. His speed (like Gagner) is in question, but his arrow are pointing up.

I don't understand your point. I agree that Couture is a fine young player. He was in the same draft year as Gagner, and has similar boxcars as Gagner. Couture is better in faceoffs by about 2 more wins per night.

Why is Couture such a great young prospect, when by similar results, Gagner isn't?

They were drafted 3 spots apart and have very similar numbers.

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#115 Dennis
November 26 2010, 07:20PM
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When are the days when the fans or media turn on the GM? Or is everyone content with waiting until the 2014 season?

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#117 CurtisS
November 26 2010, 08:26PM
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Not sure if you have read it yet LT but heres Redline update. I know you love these guys

http://www.usatoday.com/sports/hockey/columnist/woodlief/2010-11-26-red-line-report_N.htm

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#118 C-DOG
November 26 2010, 09:14PM
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Woodguy wrote:

A mistake of omission, I meant to type:

"San Jose has 2 more years of Couture as an RFA than the Oilers do with Gagner"

The preceding sentence was talking about wasting young players RFA years, and criticizing the Oilers.

and those lovely little arrows lowtide likes to talk about are pointing up for him were it counts to being a centre.

Yes they are. His speed (like Gagner) is in question, but his arrow are pointing up.

I don't understand your point. I agree that Couture is a fine young player. He was in the same draft year as Gagner, and has similar boxcars as Gagner. Couture is better in faceoffs by about 2 more wins per night.

Why is Couture such a great young prospect, when by similar results, Gagner isn't?

They were drafted 3 spots apart and have very similar numbers.

He is quicker and faster than Sam, and please don't use the 2 faceoffs/game, when they have Penner taking the ones in the left hand circles, % wise he much better 10% better, and has the ability to win 1 on 1 battles down low that are vital for centres, his G.M said today he is the best 3 zone rookie in the league.

Jordan Eberle would be a better centre than Gagner, similar skill set and body type, and no one would suggest that except for Lowtide, which isn't surprising since he beleives Gagner has the skill to be a 1st line centre, so thats not saying much. Jordan even played a little in junior but was moved to the wing for obvious reasons, why the Oilers didn't leave Gagner there after his rookie year is mind blowing.

That is why Couture is a better "CENTRE" prospect

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#119 Wanyes bastard child
November 26 2010, 09:56PM
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Lowetide wrote:

I actually searched for "world's best female bum" and the photo you see appeared. Mr. Google is a brilliant man!

I actually had to google "world's best female bum" and it turns out you are very much correct, props good sir!

http://www.myspace.com/109470959

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#120 DSF
November 27 2010, 07:33AM
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Woodguy wrote:

DSF,

Look at my post I say Gagner can be a good #2.

I was projecting him, like when he's 23 or older.

I think very, very few 21 year olds can be good anything.

The ones who can are pretty special.

If you don't think Gagner is that special, that's fine. There are very few, but that doesn't mean Gagner won't have value or be good.

You can look at tons of good players who were fringe contributors or not even in the NHL at 21.

Patrick Sharp's 21 year old season was a total of 3 games in the NHL.

Jeff Carter's 21 year old boxcars were:

62gp 14g 23a 37pts -17

Datsyuk: Ak Bars Kazan-Russia 42gp 9g 18a 27pts

Coming to a conclusion on a 21 year old is not a smart idea.

You know, you can drag out all the players whose development was slower or different in hopes than Gagner will be just like them but I can drag out as many or more whose development was faster and much more significant.

But the real issue is, over the next five years, is Gagner going to be good enough as a second line centre to compete against the best in the west.

I say five years because in a fluid situation like the NHL, where rosters turn over dramatically (see Chicago) it's impossible to project any further and even five years is a stretch.

So let's look at Vancouver (since the Oilers will have to go through them to get anywhere) and their centre depth.

Sedin Kesler Malhotra Perrault Hodgson Shroeder

Given that within 5 years, Gagner is going to get paid, how would you like his chances on that team?

How about Colorado?

Statsny Duchene O'Reilly Porter

While I agree coming to a conclusion on a 21 year old may not be a smart idea, it's not unreasonable to look at a players skill set and progress in his fourth year in the league and start to see where he fits in the pantheon. And, of course, all this is in response to Lowetide coming to the conclusion that Gagner "isn't a problem".

The "problem" is that the Oilers organization and it's fans almost without exception over value their players and prospects and end up with a bunch of threes dressed up as nines (Hemsky, Horcoff, Gagner, Khabibulin, Gilbert as just a few examples) and wondering why the team is consistently a steaming pile.

That's a problem.

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