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:
- He doesn't deliver enough offense
- 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.
- Ryan Jones (2.24 in limited play)
- Ales Hemsky (2.11)
- Sam Gagner (2.03)
- 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:
- Taylor Hall 15.6
- Dustin Penner 15.2
- Jordan Eberle 12.0
- Sam Gagner 9.4
- Shawn Horcoff 6.8
- Ales Hemsky 3.9
- Andrew Cogliano 0.0
- Steve MacIntyre -7.0
- Gilbert Brule -7.3
- Zack Stortini -8.6
- Ryan Jones -18.2
- Magnus Pääjärvi -19.4
- Colin Fraser -19.8
- 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.