SO, WHAT ABOUT SAM?

Robin Brownlee
November 16 2011 01:52PM

When Sam Gagner skated with the Edmonton Oilers at Millennium Place Tuesday, he did so on the fourth line. At Rexall Place today, Gagner didn't even take a twirl. Yet another speed bump in a season fans hoped would help define how and if Sam fits in the long-term plans.

The start of Gagner's fifth NHL season has been, to understate, a trying one as we approach the quarter-pole. The struggle continues with word from coach Tom Renney today Gagner has tweaked his back and is officially listed as being out day-to-day.

Having already missed six of the 17 games the Oilers have played because of a high-ankle sprain, Gagner returned from a six-game road trip with just two assists to show for the 11 games he's played.

Already passed on the depth chart by 18-year-old rookie Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and stuck behind Shawn Horcoff and Eric Belanger, Gagner's bounced between the right wing and his usual spot at centre. Tuesday, Renney had him at pivot with Ben Eager and Lennart Petrell. Now, this.

What to do with Sam?

TOUGH START

While the Gagner debate between backers and detractors often gets nonsensical -- he's portrayed by some as a future franchise cornerstone and by others as destined to become a draft day stiff -- he's an NHL player. The real question, what kind of NHL player? We don't have that answer.

After back-to-back seasons in which Gagner was limited to 68 games by injury, and points totals of 41 and 42, I counted myself among the group of people who felt Gagner needed to show us something this season that would clarify where he fits in the pecking order. I still feel that way.

With Gagner yet to duplicate the 49 points he tallied in 2007-08 as a rookie and with 28 games missed these past two seasons, my take has been that he needed to stay healthy and play something approaching a full season -- say, 78-82 games. Keep projections and what-if out of it.

That's likely not going to happen this season, even if this back issue proves to be minor and he's back in the line-up against Ottawa on Thursday and for a rematch with Chicago Saturday.

To this point, those of us hoping Gagner would provide some clarity have yet to see it. If anything, the big picture and Gagner's place in it, is less clear now than it was when training camp opened. A bad start. Another delay. More debate.

The prudent approach, as always, is patience. We already know that runs thin with a sizeable segment of Oiler fans. What I'm wondering is if that's becoming an issue with team management.

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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#151 DSF
November 16 2011, 07:48PM
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Wax Man Riley wrote:

On a PC.....

figured it out kinda... in html it is "& # 10003;" without spaces.... have to submit comment to show up.

that only killed 20 minutes of work time... thanks DSF.

Only 20 minutes you say?

Try this:

œ ∑ ´† ¥ ¨ ˆ ø π å ß ∂ ƒ © ˙ ∆ ˚ ¬ … æ

We'll do the periodic table next. √

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#152 Romulus' Apotheosis
November 16 2011, 07:50PM
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ha... take that technology√

you can't keep me down forever!

now if only I could find a way to give my toaster an ampersand... I wonder

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#153 Wax Man Riley
November 16 2011, 07:55PM
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DSF wrote:

Only 20 minutes you say?

Try this:

œ ∑ ´† ¥ ¨ ˆ ø π å ß ∂ ƒ © ˙ ∆ ˚ ¬ … æ

We'll do the periodic table next. √

I'm guessing you aren't looking for copy and paste.... hmmm... well... I am done in 7 minutes and in no way want to read through all Unicode characters to find those. I'm happy with my check marks☻

✓ ✔

and just for fun lets hit random numbers.....

㵒 --- 1568

For more fun, lets keep Gagner and trade Omark ;)

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#154 DSF
November 16 2011, 08:00PM
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Wax Man Riley wrote:

I'm guessing you aren't looking for copy and paste.... hmmm... well... I am done in 7 minutes and in no way want to read through all Unicode characters to find those. I'm happy with my check marks☻

✓ ✔

and just for fun lets hit random numbers.....

㵒 --- 1568

For more fun, lets keep Gagner and trade Omark ;)

Trade em both I say...and send Hemsky with them.

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#155 Oilers4ever
November 16 2011, 08:10PM
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Love the kid to death.. but we have enough players who are always hurt (Hemsky, Whitney, and yes, it will happen again this year, Khabibulin). I hate to say trade the kid because I do think he has the talent... but he`s in tough in Edmonton to be a number 2 center in my mind. Lander to me could fill tha role if given the chance, but they play him with crappy players who have no finish...

People can say I`m nuts.. but if it`s me I find a time to dance with that has a package of Gagner, Omark, Petry and potentially the Oilers 1st round pick for this upcoming draft in return for a top 2-3 dman, a top 6 power forward (like a Lucic type) and a 2nd round pick coming back. There is no way if the Oilers play like they did for the first 15 games that you are giving up a lottery pick.. and they have enough players stocked at forward and D right now that you can risk that first round pick. These players are all young with low salary cap hits... so a trade with a team like say Columbus... Call me silly.. but don`t you think Rick Nash has had enough playing for a team that is going nowhere? They brought in Carter and they are still the trash team of the league right now.

Nash and Methot coming back with the pick. Methot may not be an offensive guy but he`s big, can play big minutes and clears everything from the front of the net. And he`s young and would fit the mould for the Oilers... Columbus needs to do something... it was their coach that should have been fired, not St. Louis`s and look how the Blues are doing now with the change. How about a line of RNH, Hall, and Nash... Eberle, Hemmer, and Lander... yes Lander. The kid will be that good. Horc can play with Smyth and Magnus.. and have your fourth line of Belanger with Jones and Eager.. although realistically.. you should call up Hartsky and play him there.... Lander has proven he has grit.. so all lines with have that... all lines with the potential to score.. especially the top three... pick your poison on who you want to put your checking line against... one of the other top two will do damage as well...

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#156 OilFan
November 16 2011, 08:10PM
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What value would the Oil get in a trade ? 2nd round pick ? 5-6 Dman ?

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#157 OilLeak
November 16 2011, 08:12PM
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DSF wrote:

Trade em both I say...and send Hemsky with them.

Yeah, trade them to Canucks, when suddenly DSF will proclaim them the greatest players ever!

Your schtick is getting old my friend

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#158 OilFan
November 16 2011, 08:14PM
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@Oilers4ever

You can't be serious about the Jackets trading Nash ?

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#159 OilFan
November 16 2011, 08:23PM
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OilLeak wrote:

Really what style is that? One that favours the dregs over talented players?

It's called a new team system.P>

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#160 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
November 16 2011, 08:47PM
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DSF wrote:

Kyle Wellwood is producing at a .611 PPG pace for Winnipeg.

His cap hit is $700k.

Good hands √

Slow √

Small √

Weak on the puck √

Well I'll give you one thing, you are without a doubt Kyle Wellwood's number 1 fan.

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#161 I am the Liquor
November 16 2011, 08:50PM
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Dman09 wrote:

Really, because over the last two years when Horcoff has been hurt it was gagner that was on the top line as a center and he still managed to be a top 5 on the team. It was also at this time that his point production increased.

Quick quiz.........

Where did the Oilers finish in the standings the last two years?

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#162 DSF
November 16 2011, 08:51PM
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OilLeak wrote:

Yeah, trade them to Canucks, when suddenly DSF will proclaim them the greatest players ever!

Your schtick is getting old my friend

Sorry Sparky.

The Canucks already have 5 centres better than Gagner.

Hemsky might be able to beat out Burrows as second line winger if he could stay healthy.

Omark can't play defense well enough to play for Vigneault.

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#163 DSF
November 16 2011, 08:54PM
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OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F wrote:

Well I'll give you one thing, you are without a doubt Kyle Wellwood's number 1 fan.

Nope.

It's just sometimes you have to call a spade a big f*ing shovel.

40-50 point defensively suspect centres are really easy to find.

The AHL is full of them.

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#164 Romulus' Apotheosis
November 16 2011, 08:56PM
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trades have to get value. go for a quality D

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#165 Romulus' Apotheosis
November 16 2011, 09:02PM
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DSF wrote:

Sorry Sparky.

The Canucks already have 5 centres better than Gagner.

Hemsky might be able to beat out Burrows as second line winger if he could stay healthy.

Omark can't play defense well enough to play for Vigneault.

what's that lingering acrid, acidic taste in my mouth... it tastes like the pure distilled tears of a resentful nuck fan...

don't you have a car to burn, a finger to bite or a dive to take...

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#166 OilFan
November 16 2011, 09:10PM
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read the comment above this ( ~ _ ~ )

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#167 Jerk Store
November 16 2011, 10:12PM
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Romulus' Apotheosis wrote:

what's that lingering acrid, acidic taste in my mouth... it tastes like the pure distilled tears of a resentful nuck fan...

don't you have a car to burn, a finger to bite or a dive to take...

That acidic taste is tear gas with a hint of mace.

The source was indeed "Canuckian" though.

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#168 VK63
November 16 2011, 10:28PM
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Slow, weak, soft, timid guys make for poor bottom sixers. The ongoing argument when discussion between Cogs and Gags were in vogue, the trump card was always how much better Gags "thought" the game.

And then along came a kid who has shown an affinity for processing the game REALLY well.

And now, soft, weak, timid Sam must re-invent himself. I give him a slim chance as he has been making the same garbage mistakes for 5 years. Yes he is young and he doesnt strike me as stubborn but perhaps he is locked into a version of himself that doesnt work. Or

Hes dumb.

Figure it out Sam... your 2.5 million dollar hourglass is getting harder to tip over.

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#169 Quicksilver ballet
November 16 2011, 11:07PM
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Little known fact...

This was supposed to be Sams SIUTBOHC season.

C'mon Sammy, Rock our world!

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#170 VK63
November 16 2011, 11:58PM
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@Romulus' Apotheosis

don't you have a car to burn, a finger to bite or a dive to take...

a ref to blame, a tear to wipe or an injury to fake.......

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#171 Wax Man Riley
November 17 2011, 12:01AM
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@DSF

It's just sometimes you have to call a spade a big f*ing shovel.

That is going into my "Classic Line Jar" for me to save in order to pull out another day.

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#172 Wax Man Riley
November 17 2011, 12:10AM
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Quicksilver ballet wrote:

Little known fact...

This was supposed to be Sams SIUTBOHC season.

C'mon Sammy, Rock our world!

I'm still waiting. I wanted him to rip it up so I could say: "See! Told you that Sammy wasn't too small, too slow, too easy to knock off the puck!" You could look back at articles over the last year where I have defended Gagner for being young or not surrounded by good enough players, but (to paraphrase me)"He is going to have a long and productive NHL career."

After seeing Hall, RNH, Eberle, and Hemsky play on the same team, I have seen some real talent. I forgot what it looked like after watching Gagner over the last few years. Even seeing Smyth, Horcoff (yes Horcoff), and Jones (yes, Jones) play, I am re-discovering what a good (or even regular) NHL player looks like...

...And to me, it looks like Gagner is too small, too slow, and too easy to knock off the puck to be effective in a role with this team.

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#173 Wax Man Riley
November 17 2011, 12:14AM
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I still think that he will have a long and productive career, and may turn into a Ray Whitney-ish.

Or maybe Mike Comrie.

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#174 Quicksilver ballet
November 17 2011, 12:26AM
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Wax Man Riley wrote:

I still think that he will have a long and productive career, and may turn into a Ray Whitney-ish.

Or maybe Mike Comrie.

Lol, can't believe about a year and a half ago i had him being a Marc Savard type player. Yikes.

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#175 bazmagoo
November 17 2011, 02:08AM
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Move Jones back to the Horcoff - Smyth line and play Hemsky with Gagner and PRV. That's the only way to showcase Gagner IMO.

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#176 Oilcan
November 17 2011, 02:26AM
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bazmagoo wrote:

Move Jones back to the Horcoff - Smyth line and play Hemsky with Gagner and PRV. That's the only way to showcase Gagner IMO.

Its all good to "showcase" Sammy but its also good to WIN hockey games, and its also good not to suck the talent out of Hemsky and PRV. In regards to me saying this I don't think Gagner is a bad player but he needs quality linemates but the problem is RNH is better already and Horcoff can play defense and do pretty much whatever is needed. Sams place is solidified on the 3rd line.

Unless he moves to RW (where he should be) then I might give him a chance with Horcoff and Smyth.

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#177 The Beaker
November 17 2011, 07:15AM
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@Oilcan

Theoretically we were winning games at home with that lineup. Those top two lines were the only ones doing anything. So adding Hemsky to PVR and our friend "the Gagne" might actually work and we could still win some games (home games at least)

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#178 HORDY hears a who
November 17 2011, 11:06AM
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I just realized if the oilers win tonight (because gagner is nt playing) this article will explode and get another 177comments

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#179 gord962
November 17 2011, 11:54AM
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If the Oilers were winning with Gags on the 3rd line, playing limited minutes and accumulating no 5v5 points, I'm sure they can scratch up a win without him in the line up.

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