MAPLE LEAFS INTERESTED IN GAGNER?

Robin Brownlee
October 06 2011 10:34AM

Might circumstance and necessity make the Edmonton Oilers and Toronto Maple Leafs trade partners? Toronto Star columnist Damien Cox fuelled speculation today it might be so, citing "persistent chatter" the Maple Leafs are interested in Sam Gagner.

The Oilers are deep at forward and light on defensemen, while the Maple Leafs are relatively deep on the blue line but are looking to improve down the middle, which prompted Cox to mention via Twitter that this "persistent chatter" -- no word on who is actually doing the talking -- makes some sense.

Might there be common ground for a deal there?

DOES IT ADD UP?

Often-injured Tim Connolly, who was supposed to play centre on Toronto's the top line alongside Phil Kessel, is out with a bad shoulder and not expected to play in the Maple Leafs first two games, including the season-opener against Montreal.

Gagner, meanwhile, has been nursing a sprained ankle, so there's no guarantee he'd be ready any sooner than Connolly. In the longer term, however, GM Brian Burke might be looking for somebody like Gagner to bolster his top nine. Burke just added face-off specialist David Steckel, but he's a fourth-liner.

The Oilers have Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Shawn Horcoff, Eric Belanger, Anton Lander and Gagner, when he's healthy, as centres. They also have Chris Vandevelde and Ryan O'Marra on the AHL farm.

While there are questions about Edmonton's blue line depth, especially with Ryan Whitney coming off ankle surgery and Ladislav Smid out with a separated shoulder, the Maple Leafs are heavy on the back end.

They have Dion Phaneuf, Carl Gunnarsson, John-Michael Liles, Luke Schenn, Mike Komisarek and rookie Jake Gardiner in their top six, with Cody Franson, Keith Aulie and Matt Lashoff, just sent to the minors, waiting in the wings.

Even if the Maple Leafs are interested in Gagner, as Cox says, it doesn't mean a thing unless Edmonton GM Steve Tambellini sees somebody in that group as a useful part on his blue line.

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.

Aceb4a1816f5fa09879a023b07d1a9b4
A sports writer since 1983, including stints at The Edmonton Journal and The Sun 1989-2007, I happily co-host the Jason Gregor Show on TSN 1260 twice a week and write when so inclined. Have the best damn lawn on the internet. Most important, I am Sam's dad. Follow me on Twitter at Robin_Brownlee. Or don't.
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#1 BoBo Mar$
October 06 2011, 10:38AM
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I like Gagner, so this sprank sucks.

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#2 mayorpoop
October 06 2011, 10:43AM
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rb,

is it even reasonable to suggest a Schenn for Gagner deal? would that be fair value?

don't get me wrong i doubt toronto would want this and rather get or rid of 2, like an Aulie and Franson but who am i to say.

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#3 Harlie
October 06 2011, 10:44AM
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and as the rumour mill churns, these are the Days of Our Lives..

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#4 Woogie
October 06 2011, 10:45AM
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The problem with a trade with Gagner is we don't really have a top 2 centermen without Gagner.

sure RNH is a good #1 or #2 center but nobody else would fit. I'm not convinced Belanger is a top tier forward.

I would rather give up someone on the wing then down the middle.

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#5 Archaeologuy
October 06 2011, 10:49AM
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1) Damien Cox grates on my nerves for some reason that I cant put a finger on.

2) I would be much happier if these rumours were coming in around Christmas when we have a pretty good idea about how Sam Gagner fits in this Oiler top 9.

I dont see the market for Sam Gagner being very high right now. I doubt his play will regress, but the potential for growth is still there. It just seems like the wrong time to pull the trigger on him.

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#6 RDS
October 06 2011, 10:50AM
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Does this mean Burke and Lowe are friends again?

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#7 Sean17
October 06 2011, 10:55AM
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@RDS

Burke has no friends.

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#8 TKB2677
October 06 2011, 10:56AM
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Right now the only thing holding the Oilers back from being a good team is their defence. With Gagner out of the line up, the Oilers centers are Hopkins, Horcoff, Belanger, Lander. Yes Hopkins and Lander are rookies and they will have their ups and downs. But next year, with Horcoff and Belanger signed for 2 more seasons and Hopkins and Lander with a year of pro under their belt, exactly where does Gagner fit? I like Gagner but looking forward, I don't see a spot for him. Belanger last season had similar points as Gagner, but Belanger can win faceoffs, kill penalties and be good in his own zone. SO is Gagner really that much better? He's going into his 5th season and so far I would have to say no Gagner isn't better. As of last season, he still can't win faceoffs, he still is terrible in his own zone, he still can't kill penalties. This season if everything goes well, what is realist for Gagner? Scoring high 50's in points. That would be a 15 point jump. That's a fairly big jump. He was crappy at faceoffs, is he suddenly going to be in the top 10? NO. He was a disaster in his end for the 4th straight year last year, is he suddenly going to be Selke candidate this year? NO. I expect Gagner to get better in all departments but he still has a way to go.

It is hard to say where Gagner will evolve too but based on 4 seasons of NHL play that hasn't got much better than his first season, I am fairly confident in saying Gagner will turn into an ok 2nd line center. If the Oilers can get a quality, young, top 4 Dman and it takes a future ok 2nd line center. I'd say that's pretty good value.

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#9 Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach
October 06 2011, 11:07AM
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The Oilers have Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Shawn Horcoff, Eric Belanger, Anton Lander and Gagner, when he's healthy, as centres. They also have Chris Vandevelde and Ryan O'Marra on the AHL farm.

Reading this doesn't make the thought of moving Gagner seem like a smart one. VV and O'Marra at best are fill ins at this point. RNH and Lander are unknowns. Given this teams injury history I just don't see the need to move Gagner yet.

What does TO have to offer? Either 2 guys that are greatly overpaid or a bunch of guys that really are no further along the development curve than our guys.

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#10 Archaeologuy
October 06 2011, 11:10AM
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@TKB2677

He was on pace for close to 50 BEFORE being sliced open by a skate blade. Moving up to the mid 50's or even the high 50's is NOT as big of a jump as you present it.

And if Gagner at 21 could produce points at the pace of someone who has been playing Pro for 14 years, dont you think that just maybe giving up on him at 22 is a tad pre-mature?

Obviously if the price is right anybody is available, but how long are Horcoff and Belanger going to be able to be 2C's? I look at RNH, Gagner, and Lander and I see the team's future #1,2,3 all set up but with almost nobody coming behind them. I see the wing, on the other hand, and I see kids waiting down on the farm to snatch time away from anyone who faulters.

Combine that with the near certainty that Hemsky has to be moved regardless of what the Oilers do with Sam Gagner and I dont see a need to rush the movement of Samwise.

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#11 TKB2677
October 06 2011, 11:14AM
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Here is the thing. Is Gagner really better than Belanger?

In the last 4 seasons, Belanger has scored 40, 41, 36, 37 points. With 13, 15, 13, 13 goals. He was +11, +3, +2, -5 in those seasons. All the while being top 15 in faceoffs and a good penalty killer while not getting a lot of PP time.

Gagner in the last 4 seasons has scored 42, 42, 41, 49 points. With 15, 15, 16, 13 goals. He was -17, -8, -1, -21. He has been terrible at faceoffs, doesn't kill penalties and gets way more power play time than Belanger.

Other than being younger, his stats aren't much better and he is terrible at a critical area which is winning faceoffs. I like Gagner, I would be sad to see him go but the Oilers defence right now is bad. When you have Tom Gilbert as your #2, that is not good. They have to do something.

In order to get something good, you have to give up something. There are some question marks in regards to Hopkins and Lander because it's their first season but in a year who gets bumped out of the center position to give Gagner a spot. Right now its easy because Hopkins and Lander are rookies but not next year. When healthy, is Gagner better than Horcoff? As much as I am not a Horcoff fan, I looked at the stats and Gagner isn't better than Horcoff right now and Horcoff can win faceoffs and kill penalties. Gagner is going into year 5 and he can't do that. We all see the potential that Gagner appears to have but after 4 seasons and he hasn't gotten a lot better. If he hadn't of got hurt last year, he most likely would of broke 50 pts but is that something to be excited about? Took an offensive center 4 years to break 50 points?

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#12 Nick Dynasty
October 06 2011, 11:17AM
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is RNH going to be here past game 9? we still don't know. we all hope he will be, but it's not a guarantee yet. we should probably hold off on the Gagner chatter for now.

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#13 Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach
October 06 2011, 11:18AM
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TKB2677 wrote:

Here is the thing. Is Gagner really better than Belanger?

In the last 4 seasons, Belanger has scored 40, 41, 36, 37 points. With 13, 15, 13, 13 goals. He was +11, +3, +2, -5 in those seasons. All the while being top 15 in faceoffs and a good penalty killer while not getting a lot of PP time.

Gagner in the last 4 seasons has scored 42, 42, 41, 49 points. With 15, 15, 16, 13 goals. He was -17, -8, -1, -21. He has been terrible at faceoffs, doesn't kill penalties and gets way more power play time than Belanger.

Other than being younger, his stats aren't much better and he is terrible at a critical area which is winning faceoffs. I like Gagner, I would be sad to see him go but the Oilers defence right now is bad. When you have Tom Gilbert as your #2, that is not good. They have to do something.

In order to get something good, you have to give up something. There are some question marks in regards to Hopkins and Lander because it's their first season but in a year who gets bumped out of the center position to give Gagner a spot. Right now its easy because Hopkins and Lander are rookies but not next year. When healthy, is Gagner better than Horcoff? As much as I am not a Horcoff fan, I looked at the stats and Gagner isn't better than Horcoff right now and Horcoff can win faceoffs and kill penalties. Gagner is going into year 5 and he can't do that. We all see the potential that Gagner appears to have but after 4 seasons and he hasn't gotten a lot better. If he hadn't of got hurt last year, he most likely would of broke 50 pts but is that something to be excited about? Took an offensive center 4 years to break 50 points?

Being younger is the big key.

Belanger's first 4 years 21pts, 24pts, 35pts, 31pts. 14, 2, -5, -16. He was also 23 when he started.

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#14 RexLibris
October 06 2011, 11:19AM
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Sean17 wrote:

Burke has no friends.

Only enemies he hasn't met yet.

If Gagner were to be moved it would be likely when he is healthy and after he has played a few games to show that he is back in shape.

The return for Gagner, if I'm Tambellini, would be Franson and Aulie or one of them and a first round pick. My reason for the steep price is that we don't need to move Gagner, he's still very young, and if Burke were to add Gagner to their top line then a first round pick would not likely be in the top 12 and so reduce the percieved cost of the return. Tambellini could even make the pick an optional 2012 or 2013. The problem with acquiring Franson and Aulie is that while one (Franson) might play on your d-line this year, the other would be added to what is already a log-jam of developing defensive prospects. That being said, adding Franson and a 1st rounder for Gagner immediately buys some time for the prospects like Teubert and Marincin and others to develop at their own pace. It also would spell the end of Motin's and Plante's time in the organization.

The fact that this is coming from Damien Cox though, the same person who reported that Hall was pulling strings and pressuring Lowe to wear #4 last year, means that this rumour should be evaluated with the same ironclad rating as another Hockey Insider: I'd give it an e3.

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#15 Douche Nietzsche
October 06 2011, 11:22AM
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@ Robin Brownlee

Anything else on Twitter from Ontario about the Oilers?

We should trade Gagner for that Brady guy. It would benefit the fanbase, especially Oilersnation, having someone who has insight on the Oilers, instead of people just making up stuff and going with it.

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#16 Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach
October 06 2011, 11:24AM
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Douche Nietzsche wrote:

@ Robin Brownlee

Anything else on Twitter from Ontario about the Oilers?

We should trade Gagner for that Brady guy. It would benefit the fanbase, especially Oilersnation, having someone who has insight on the Oilers, instead of people just making up stuff and going with it.

I think I heard we suck

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#17 longbottom/P.Biglow
October 06 2011, 11:27AM
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TKB2677 wrote:

Right now the only thing holding the Oilers back from being a good team is their defence. With Gagner out of the line up, the Oilers centers are Hopkins, Horcoff, Belanger, Lander. Yes Hopkins and Lander are rookies and they will have their ups and downs. But next year, with Horcoff and Belanger signed for 2 more seasons and Hopkins and Lander with a year of pro under their belt, exactly where does Gagner fit? I like Gagner but looking forward, I don't see a spot for him. Belanger last season had similar points as Gagner, but Belanger can win faceoffs, kill penalties and be good in his own zone. SO is Gagner really that much better? He's going into his 5th season and so far I would have to say no Gagner isn't better. As of last season, he still can't win faceoffs, he still is terrible in his own zone, he still can't kill penalties. This season if everything goes well, what is realist for Gagner? Scoring high 50's in points. That would be a 15 point jump. That's a fairly big jump. He was crappy at faceoffs, is he suddenly going to be in the top 10? NO. He was a disaster in his end for the 4th straight year last year, is he suddenly going to be Selke candidate this year? NO. I expect Gagner to get better in all departments but he still has a way to go.

It is hard to say where Gagner will evolve too but based on 4 seasons of NHL play that hasn't got much better than his first season, I am fairly confident in saying Gagner will turn into an ok 2nd line center. If the Oilers can get a quality, young, top 4 Dman and it takes a future ok 2nd line center. I'd say that's pretty good value.

Remember the age difference and that Belanger id ten tears older than Gagner. look at all the top centers and 50-75%of them finally got it going after year four. Take Daniel Sedin his first four years he was known as soft, and didn't exactly know where his end of the Ice is and averaged 32.7 points a year. Now look at Gagner not exactly soft but not very defensive and ave 43.2 points a season. I always as wait 5 yrs on a top prospect in the NHL. Its the 5yr rule, they get it on the 5th year.

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#18 VK63
October 06 2011, 11:29AM
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Wow.... i would call that a huge step away from the truculence and pugnacity Burke was looking for a while back.

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#19 Archaeologuy
October 06 2011, 11:30AM
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VK63 wrote:

Wow.... i would call that a huge step away from the truculence and pugnacity Burke was looking for a while back.

Maybe he finally figured out that scoring was more important

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#20 longbottom/P.Biglow
October 06 2011, 11:32AM
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Not really Gagner averages 1-2 fights a year he isn't exactly tough on the puck thats all but definatly Gags has truculance

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#21 mayorpoop
October 06 2011, 11:33AM
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Douche Nietzsche wrote:

@ Robin Brownlee

Anything else on Twitter from Ontario about the Oilers?

We should trade Gagner for that Brady guy. It would benefit the fanbase, especially Oilersnation, having someone who has insight on the Oilers, instead of people just making up stuff and going with it.

jeez i'd hate to talk about stuff related to the oilers based on location of said information.

it's a blog site so you shouldn't get your panties in a knot about stuff said. is it gonna change your life?

i actually like what RB is bringing with these twitter/ social media rumours. it is discussion material for a rabid fan base. flase or true my opinion matters about as much as yours to the people who make decisions, not at all.

relax.

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#22 adamjames
October 06 2011, 11:36AM
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Trading Gagner scares me personally. I wouldn't want him traded for anything less than Luke Schenn, and even still, predicting how a young defenseman will turn out is a total crapshoot. Even an excellent young defenseman can be derailed by injury, ala Ryan Whitney. I'd be completely fine running this defense all season if it means Ryan Murray at the draft. One more year won't hurt.

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#23 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
October 06 2011, 11:41AM
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We'd have half the readership jumping for joy.

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#24 db7db7db7
October 06 2011, 11:41AM
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I think Gagner is more valuable if packaged with Hemsky. ST should be aggressively hounding Nashville. They won't resign both Suter and Weber, so the package mentioned above should hopefully be enough to pry one of them away. My preference is Weber. Omark can take Hemsky's minutes making room for Hartikainen, and RNH, Belanger, Horcoff and Lander are a great center foursome.

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#25 Douche Nietzsche
October 06 2011, 11:41AM
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@mayorpoop

I forgot a few of "~" in my comment.

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#26 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
October 06 2011, 11:42AM
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I'd be interested in Gagner for Schenn.... unfortunatly it would probably end up being Gagner for Gardiner and a 2nd.

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#27 Surgit barabara
October 06 2011, 11:48AM
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Gagner is all hype, always talks about how he trains hard during the offseason but it never shows during reg season

I say we trade him for phaneuf so we get to see more elisha cuthbert in Edmonton lol jk

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#28 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
October 06 2011, 11:49AM
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TO basically has Gagners twin (though unproven) in Kadri.

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#29 Truth
October 06 2011, 11:50AM
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I don't think there is one player on the leafs I would trade Gagner for. Sure there has to be better players on that team, but for some reason I just can't see it.

Maybe its the fact I despise the leafs, and Burke.

I don't care if he isn't a number 1 C, these guys don't grow on trees. If your going to trade Gagner he has to be traded in a package for a legitimate #1 or 2 defenceman, or at least one with the pedigree to turn into one. None of which the leafs have in my opinion.

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#30 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
October 06 2011, 11:51AM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

Maybe he finally figured out that scoring was more important

Now if only Oiler fans could somehow figure it out.

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#31 FastOil
October 06 2011, 11:52AM
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Anybody is tradeable for the right return. For Gagner, who barring injury will become a good top 6 centre (maybe very good) it has to be a very good player coming back.

I wouldn't go for two average guys. We don't need to lose Gagner to get that kind of player. Are any Leaf D considered top prospects still? Like Schenn?

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#32 Archaeologuy
October 06 2011, 11:55AM
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OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F wrote:

TO basically has Gagners twin (though unproven) in Kadri.

His exact twin, minus the part where 1 has been a no doubt NHLer since he was 18 who can be counted on for 40+ points a season in his sleep, and 1 is Kadri.

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#33 VK63
October 06 2011, 12:05PM
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@Archaeologuy

For me sams value going forward hinges on the dollar and term his camp mays ask for given another year of similar performance in Oiler silks.

What number will that be do you think?

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#34 treblecharger
October 06 2011, 12:05PM
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Unless it's Gags for Schenn no way Oil would do this.

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#35 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
October 06 2011, 12:08PM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

His exact twin, minus the part where 1 has been a no doubt NHLer since he was 18 who can be counted on for 40+ points a season in his sleep, and 1 is Kadri.

Yup, that's what unproven means.

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#36 hamzinoilcntry
October 06 2011, 12:10PM
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Brian Burke is not going to trade Luke Schenn, not for Sam Gagner anyway. The guy has stated in every interview over the lasst two season how Schenn is there future captain.

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#37 Next up, is Connor McJesus.
October 06 2011, 12:12PM
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Stick to the plan gentlemen. The only thing the Oilers need from Toronto is their first selection next summer. Perhaps that ends up somewhere in that 9-11 range. We should be able to add a roster player along with that pick to greatly improve on that second top ten selection.

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#38 Kodiak
October 06 2011, 12:12PM
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treblecharger wrote:

Unless it's Gags for Schenn no way Oil would do this.

I agree. Not sure I'd really want to trade Gagner for anything TO has but Schenn, although I don't know a whole lot about Gunnarsson or Gardiner, and I really don't see TO trading Schenn.

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#39 oilerbill
October 06 2011, 12:14PM
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@longbottom/P.Biglow

I swear if I hear one more person compare Gagner to any one of the Sedins I am going to PUKE! He is not and never be 6'2" swedish twins!! If someone sees untapped potential in Gagner for the future and are willing to pay for it now then take it! The Oil have done a good job of stunting his career by sucking really bad and forcing him to play in a position where he has to be the guy now rather than growing in to that player. He is still young, that's great and that is the reason we may be able to get some help on the back end in return. Unless you want the future oilers to flounder because A) we can't keep the puck out of our own net. B) we cant get the puck to our forwards. We are destined to continue to fail and put the young forwards with potential in positions to fail, which history has shown does not translate into a bright future.

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#40 hamzinoilcntry
October 06 2011, 12:15PM
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QSB. Does Gagner garner a first round pick?

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#41 DK0
October 06 2011, 12:16PM
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Given Burke's recent track record, I would make the deal. We would somehow end up with a top 4 dman and Gagner would get a brutal headshot his 3rd game as a leaf and end up on the bench the rest of the season.

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#42 oilersOne
October 06 2011, 12:22PM
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I too like Gagne even though he is injury prone, small, soft, poor on the dot and poor defensively. Wait a minute, why do I like Gagne? I agree that Gagne would be a tradeable option, however not for any of the crap Toronto has, their whole team including management sucks!! I think Gagne needs to come back from injuy and play well for the Oil to up his trade value first. Then we need to throw in our lotto pick for 2012 (Yes it will be a lotto pick, sorry guys) and approach Nashville about Weber/ Suter. This is what ST should do with Gagner!

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#43 longbottom/P.Biglow
October 06 2011, 12:24PM
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Puke away boyo. Do you know why he is compared to the Sedins? A) he is tougher, have either one of the Sedins ever had a fight? Gagner gets into 1-2 a year. B) The Sedins after playing in the Swedish Elite League before coming to Vancouver had lower numbers in their first four years. C) Gagner is now going to get a consistent shot at the #1-2 center. If you want to argue these points back it up do not give me garbage that they screwed up his developement, the Oilers management picked the wrong guy, Lowe is still running the show so Gagner has no chance to become a solid #2 center, Tambellinni can't get defence so Gagner sucks because of it. Give me facts and I will match them.

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#44 Archaeologuy
October 06 2011, 12:30PM
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OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F wrote:

Yup, that's what unproven means.

You see "unproven", I see "not nearly as good."

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#45 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
October 06 2011, 12:32PM
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longbottom/P.Biglow wrote:

Remember the age difference and that Belanger id ten tears older than Gagner. look at all the top centers and 50-75%of them finally got it going after year four. Take Daniel Sedin his first four years he was known as soft, and didn't exactly know where his end of the Ice is and averaged 32.7 points a year. Now look at Gagner not exactly soft but not very defensive and ave 43.2 points a season. I always as wait 5 yrs on a top prospect in the NHL. Its the 5yr rule, they get it on the 5th year.

"look at all the top centers and 50-75%of them finally got it going after year four"

You might want to check those numbers again.

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#46 Next up, is Connor McJesus.
October 06 2011, 12:33PM
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hamzinoilcntry wrote:

QSB. Does Gagner garner a first round pick?

At a 6th overall who covered the bet, i`d have to think he is. The price usually goes up when someone comes buying. As much as i`d like to see him made available, he`s probably off limits as far as the Oilers are concerned. This will cost Toronto a pretty penny if they leave with 89 in their shopping cart.

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#47 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
October 06 2011, 12:34PM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

You see "unproven", I see "not nearly as good."

That remains to be seen.

I'm confident neither one of us has seen him enough to make that call though.

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#48 Archaeologuy
October 06 2011, 12:37PM
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@OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

Fair comment

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#49 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
October 06 2011, 12:37PM
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longbottom/P.Biglow wrote:

Puke away boyo. Do you know why he is compared to the Sedins? A) he is tougher, have either one of the Sedins ever had a fight? Gagner gets into 1-2 a year. B) The Sedins after playing in the Swedish Elite League before coming to Vancouver had lower numbers in their first four years. C) Gagner is now going to get a consistent shot at the #1-2 center. If you want to argue these points back it up do not give me garbage that they screwed up his developement, the Oilers management picked the wrong guy, Lowe is still running the show so Gagner has no chance to become a solid #2 center, Tambellinni can't get defence so Gagner sucks because of it. Give me facts and I will match them.

- Theirs more to being tough then fighting.

- Gagner has gotten consistent top 6 ice time basically his whole career.

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#50 Archaeologuy
October 06 2011, 12:39PM
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@OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

Somebody's wearing his argumentative pants today.

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