GAGNER SIGNS ON

Jason Gregor
July 20 2012 09:03AM

As expected the Oilers and Sam Gagner avoided arbitration as Gagner signed a one-year, $3.2 million deal early this morning.

What does it mean?

For me it means that both sides, just like Nation, view Gagner differently.

Gagner's abillity as a player is easily the most debated topic on the Nation. One faction feels he is only 22 and poised to become a legit top-end #2 centre or low-end #1, while the other side feels he will only be what he has been through five seasons. A 45-50 point player.

A one-year deal shows me that the Oilers are still a bit unsure where Gagner fits in the overall outlook, while Gagner's camp feel he has lots of room to grow and didn't want to sign a long-term deal because he's on the cusp of a breakout season.

It truly is a great debate because no one knows for sure which side will be right.

Gagner has great offensive instincts, and this year he'll play with Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, Nail Yakupov and Ales Hemsky. It is clear he will have some incredibly skilled wingers on his side all season. Some will suggest the Oilers made a mistake in not wrapping him up long-term because they'll likely have to pay him more next season, after he surpasses the 50-point mark this year.

It is possible, and likely, if he stays healthy that he'll set a career-high in points, and that is precisely why his camp might have only wanted a one-year deal. We can only speculate what a two-year term would have cost, but I'm guessing two years would have been closer to the $3.7-$4.0 range.

Had he gone to arbitration I'm guessing he would have gotten more from an arbitrator. History tells us that the arbitrator usually favours the players. They base everything off of comparables, which aren't always accurate considering how teams view players differently within their own organizations.

For instance T.J Oshie is considered a cornerstone forward by the Blues, but with RNH, Hall, Eberle and even Yakupov in Edmonton, Gagner likely 5th on the forwards depth chart. Teams will pay guys within their team based on how they rank them, not always of course, but in most cases they try to chart out their place on the team.

WHY NO ARBITRATION

Neither side really wants to have an outside party determine how much a player makes. Even though the players have usually gotten a better deal in arbitration, many don't want to go through with it, because the process isn't pretty. They have to hear what the team doesn't like about them, and sometimes it isn't flattering. Plus most players don't want to be perceived as selfish.

This is a fair deal, but it also leaves both sides open to losing the deal. It is risky for the Oilers, because Gagner could have a breakout season and then the Oilers will be forced to re-sign him along with Hall and Eberle.

Gagner might not break 50 points, and if he doesn't then he likely won't be getting much of a raise next year. There is also the ugly risk of injury, and hopefully for both parties, and the fans, that doesn't happen.

I also believe both sides can win on this deal. If Gagner pots 55-60 points this year, he'll be in line for a raise, but that would mean the Oilers are closer to a playoff spot. This team needs to improve, and in order to improve as a team they will need certain players to improve individually.

Gagner is one of the guys, and if he can take the next step in development that he feels he's capable of the Oilers might actually compete for a playoff spot.

Gagner is working hard on his foot speed this summer, just like he did last year and if he has the same amount of improvement this summer that he did last year, he will come to camp a bit quicker, which will make him more dangerous.

Is this the year Gagner becomes the player he, and much of the Nation, feel he can be? We'll see. Watching it unfold should be interesting.

Ddf3e2ba09069c465299f3c416e43eae
One of Canada's most versatile sports personalities. Jason hosts The Jason Gregor Show, weekdays from 2 to 6 p.m., on TSN 1260, and he writes a column every Monday in the Edmonton Journal. You can follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/JasonGregor
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#1 Archaeologuy
July 20 2012, 09:55AM
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Zamboni Driver wrote:

The definition of insanity is....

1: a deranged state of the mind usually occurring as a specific disorder (as schizophrenia)

2: such unsoundness of mind or lack of understanding as prevents one from having the mental capacity required by law to enter into a particular relationship, status, or transaction or as removes one from criminal or civil responsibility

3 a : extreme folly or unreasonableness b : something utterly foolish or unreasonable

Examples of INSANITY:

She was found not guilty by reason of insanity.

He was convinced a 22 year old professional hockey player had plateaued despite all the evidence to the contrary.

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#2 Archaeologuy
July 20 2012, 11:26AM
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AI2 wrote:

Whats wrong with you? Use proper English.

There's no time for proper English, man! We have the only center under 25 not named Nuge on this team to run out of town based on unquantifiable reasons!!

Better yet! We can harp on him for not doing things the Head Coach has gone on record saying he actually does well!

Put your grammar books away and start breathing out of your mouth ITS THE LATEST CRAZE

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#3 Boourns99
July 20 2012, 09:06AM
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Fist off, I like this deal. Anyone can see we are small up front, and Samwise needs to show he fits. Otherwise, we have a capable 2 way centre as trade-bait for top4 dman...

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#4 godot10
July 20 2012, 09:13AM
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In today's NHL, a 45-50 point centre is a legit average-to-above-average 2nd line centre offensively.

Goal scoring is way down.

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#5 Archaeologuy
July 20 2012, 10:18AM
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Dman09 wrote:

Seriously the most criticised part of gagner is his defensive play, two way forward.... not yet but making progress.

Boo leading the team in +/-, boo having a better CorsiQoC than Eberle, boo the Head Coach praising Gagner's defensive game.

I dont care about any of that, he is no good in the defensive zone. BOOOOOO.

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#6 Clyde Frog
July 20 2012, 10:45AM
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@Spydyr

Because obviously he is too small to produce, which is his job, right?

Thos 45+ points are a mirage, because the other team just spotted him them.

A bigger meaner 4th line centre potting 20-30 points would be much more effective because he can do more physically!

The 15-25 less goals scored by the Oilers won't matter at all because we'll hit more and that is how you win hockey games!

Do you seriously believe what you posted? Honsetly?

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#7 james
July 20 2012, 04:27PM
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Ugghhh another year of watching Gagner getting pushed off the puck. He'll likely get 50+ points which is not surprising considering who his wingers will be. This guy rode Patrick Kane and got over 100 points in junior, he's used to feasting off his linemates. Sadly the Oil dont have anyone else to put in the 2C spot, Horcoff isnt well suited there. Hall is an option that they can explore. Its been said many times, the Oilers will announce they are ready to win and compete when they trade Gagner knowing that they have someone better to replace him. I look forward to that day.

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#8 melancholyculkin
July 20 2012, 07:37PM
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These endless Gagner debates are boring.

There were only 13 forwards in the entire league Gagner's age or younger that scored more than Gagner on a per-game basis last season, and 4 of them were taken first overall.

When Sam Gagner plays he outshoots and outscores his opponents and that's the only thing a hockey player needs to do.

Outshoot and outscore. That's all that hockey is.

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#9 nathan
July 20 2012, 12:01PM
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AI2 wrote:

Whats wrong with you? Use proper English.

AI2, Think you need some non-artificial intelligence to read that. He's mocking the barely formed thoughts of some of the mob. Form matches context.

Arch, did you have this in mind: "Boo. Boo. Rubbish. Filth. Slime. Muck. Boo. Boo. Boo." Your true love lives.

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#10 Archaeologuy
July 20 2012, 07:13PM
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@Saytalk

The Los Angeles Kings and the Florida Panthers. Thats 2 playoff teams that didnt have a 2nd line C that outscored Gagner. I'm not going to even bother looking for more, I only looked at 3-4 teams before I already debunked your garbage about 15 of 16 playoff teams.

It really isnt that hard to research this crap. Give it a go sometime.

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#11 Shredder
July 20 2012, 09:08AM
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So he'll be an RFA next summer? That's the important thing to me...although Weber goes to show that doesn't even protect your players.

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#12 nuge2nail
July 20 2012, 09:11AM
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Oiler Domination to Follow

Gagner has shown chemistry with Hall n Eberle. If he puts up 60 Points playing with those two, the Oilers will regret this. I dont like this signing, simply because Gagners wingers are so talented I assume he will put up career numbers - and the oilers will end up paying much more next year to extend him. I would have preffered a 3 year deal.

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#13 Craig
July 20 2012, 09:23AM
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I'm calling it now that there will be a shortened season and Sam Gagner point total will look better with less games, earning him an overpayment and a huge mistake from Oilers.

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#14 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
July 20 2012, 09:28AM
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Would have preffered 4 or 5 years, but I'll take one year over two.

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#15 Cody anderson
July 20 2012, 09:40AM
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I would have much preferred a longer term 3-5 year deal. I think the dollar amount is fair and agree Sam would get more by an arbitrator or on the free market.

His point totals are high end for a second line center. Obviously he did not play the toughs, but his plus minus led the team at +5. He improves each year on the dot.

I see him getting some powerplay time this year and playing between either Hall and Yakupov or Hall and a healthy Hemsky. Either way if everyone remains healthy this should be his highest point total ever and quite possibly push his contract value out of our comfort zone with all of the other contracts we are going to be renewing.

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#16 Truth
July 20 2012, 09:41AM
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Good deal for both. Motivation for Gagner to step his game up, and the ability for the Oilers to get another year to decide how he fits in the organization.

He did look good a step quicker in preseason last year before injury. If he improves on that it will be a big step. The Nuge proves size is irrelevant with quickness and smarts.

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#17 Cody anderson
July 20 2012, 09:41AM
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I would have much preferred a longer term 3-5 year deal. I think the dollar amount is fair and agree Sam would get more by an arbitrator or on the free market.

His point totals are high end for a second line center. Obviously he did not play the toughs, but his plus minus led the team at +5. He improves each year on the dot.

I see him getting some powerplay time this year and playing between either Hall and Yakupov or Hall and a healthy Hemsky. Either way if everyone remains healthy this should be his highest point total ever and quite possibly push his contract value out of our comfort zone with all of the other contracts we are going to be renewing.

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#18 Zamboni Driver
July 20 2012, 09:46AM
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The definition of insanity is....

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#19 Spydyr
July 20 2012, 10:02AM
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Great now trade him.

Points does not a player make.Regular season small, slow ,weak player.Has heart but cannot win a puck battle.Maybe one in 10.Gets knocked off the puck way to easily.

Over abundance of small skilled players.

Either move Hall to center then get a top 4 d-man or trade him and another asset for a number 2 center.

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#20 Dman09
July 20 2012, 10:04AM
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Boourns99 wrote:

Fist off, I like this deal. Anyone can see we are small up front, and Samwise needs to show he fits. Otherwise, we have a capable 2 way centre as trade-bait for top4 dman...

Seriously the most criticised part of gagner is his defensive play, two way forward.... not yet but making progress.

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#21 magisterrex
July 20 2012, 10:10AM
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There's nothing wrong with paying Samwise a fair value next year if he takes a leap forward. Players want a fair shake and not to be lowballed. Just ask Shea Weber. I think this is actually a good deal for the morale of one Sam Gagner.

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#22 Next up, is Connor McJesus.
July 20 2012, 10:26AM
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Hopefully he can see some success between Hemsky and Yakupov. If he has the wheels to keep up it could work out well for him.

Could see him putting up between 60-65 pts this coming season. As it would sit then, it would be a pretty good asset for the Oilers to deal with as they please.

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#23 Dman09
July 20 2012, 10:29AM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

Boo leading the team in +/-, boo having a better CorsiQoC than Eberle, boo the Head Coach praising Gagner's defensive game.

I dont care about any of that, he is no good in the defensive zone. BOOOOOO.

While getting the most sheltered mins, no pk time. I'm not saying hes a bad player. I think his offensive production is right on par with 2C position but historically his defensive play has been the issue. Hes looked better when he has a good defensive player covering for him. If he can continue to improve and maintain or increase production then I'm perfectly okay with giving him a 5 year contract and having him a 2C.

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#24 Shifty203
July 20 2012, 10:30AM
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@Spydyr

No coach has wanted Hall at center in what, 4 years now? What makes you think he can just slot in and still be effective offensivly? You're obivously seeing something his Junior and NHL coaches haven't noticed, so share with the group.

And if you want a second line center with size and grit, and can put up points, you're going to have to trade one of the kids to get him. As Willis's article pointed out a few months ago, theres like 4 second line centers in the league that fit that bill.

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#26 Bruce
July 20 2012, 10:35AM
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Jason, so did Gagner's camp only want one year? Hmm, I would have thought they'd have asked for more.

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#27 Simpsonite
July 20 2012, 10:43AM
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I can't wait to see him get into his classic mini-slump of no goals and then beat the crap outta somebody and go on a tear. That's gotta be worth at least a couple mil right there!!

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#28 nathan
July 20 2012, 10:48AM
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Bruce wrote:

Jason, so did Gagner's camp only want one year? Hmm, I would have thought they'd have asked for more.

Bruce, In his skates I'd have accepted more term only if the price included my upside and was bonus heavy to protect me from CBA rollbacks. Pre-peak players are in a harder place with the CBA uncertainty.

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#29 Smokey
July 20 2012, 10:49AM
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Seems like the right deal. If poor Sam was 2 inches taller we'd be paying him 4 mil x 5 willingly.

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#30 gcw_rocks
July 20 2012, 10:54AM
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"He was convinced a 22 year old professional hockey player had plateaued despite all the evidence to the contrary."

What evidence is that, exactly? While his defence is improving, his offense, if you pro-rate his 5 NHL seasons over 82 games is:

Season Points per 82 games 2007-08 51 2008-09 44 2009-10 49 2010-11 51 2011-12 51

I don't think you can get any flatter than that.

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#31 gcw_rocks
July 20 2012, 10:55AM
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Man, I hate the formatting on this site when you post:

2007-08 51

2008-09 44

2009-10 49

2010-11 51

2011-12 51

Let's see if adding a line between will improve formatting

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#32 Eddie Edmonton
July 20 2012, 10:59AM
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Glad the Oilers didn't give in and sign him for more than a year. I'll be even more glad if they trade him before the start of the season.

Gagner hasn't improved since he came in the league, the only thing that changed for the better in his game is his linemates-who help him look like he belongs. I can't thing of anything that I could credit/praise Gagners game about. Gagner is average at best. I'd bet that given the opportunity to play with Hall and Eberle, Lander would have done just as good, if not better, than Gagner.

Sams game is suspicious and I'm hoping his Oilers days are numbered in little digits.

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#33 AI2
July 20 2012, 11:04AM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

Boo leading the team in +/-, boo having a better CorsiQoC than Eberle, boo the Head Coach praising Gagner's defensive game.

I dont care about any of that, he is no good in the defensive zone. BOOOOOO.

Whats wrong with you? Use proper English.

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#34 Eddie Edmonton
July 20 2012, 11:09AM
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AI2 wrote:

Whats wrong with you? Use proper English.

He won't tell you what's wrong with him and I don't know.

But I do suspect that he might be, either Gagner him self or Sams dad or uncle.

He is convienced Sam almost an elite and will be in 6 more years, just give him time. I believe he sees this as some kind of esoteric knowledge that simpletons can't phantom.

So everytime you say you don't like Gagner or don't think he is as awesome as Arch things, Arch automatically assumes you are reatarded and is forced to take that approach of communication.

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#35 AI2
July 20 2012, 11:13AM
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This is fair for both sides. The Oilers want to pay Gagner more but they want him to give them a good reason to. If he can play & stay healthy, he'll be an asset. If he is a good fit in the top 6 they'll keep him. If Gagner's reps feel he's ready for a break out season and he delivers, the Oilers can lock him up at 4M+ and he'll be worth it, if not he may be a better fit in Chicago with Kane by his side.

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#36 WhattaMike
July 20 2012, 11:13AM
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IMO, there is nothing wrong with this deal for one year as he is still going to be an RFA next year. This still puts the Oilers in the driving seat for of whether they keep him long term (if he has an outstanding year as a 2 way centre), or, if he is proven to be already peaked at 40 to 49 pts again and/or worse.

Being only 22 yrs old now lets him grow another year and this now new looking team (until recently) has been with many terrible to mediocre players also while he he has been here.

Since 18, aside from Hemsky, he has been played with the Oilers who had forward players as like Cogs, Nilsson, Schremp, Brule, O'Sullivan, Potulny,Stortini, JF. Jacques, Moreau, Macintyre, Pisani, etc.

Now the ball is totally in his court to show what he can do pts-wise or defensively with another year of Hall, Nuge, Eberle, Hemsky, Smyth, and Yakupov, with maybe an improved Paajarvi, etc. Its a team game and yes the defense and goaltending has to help out quite a bit more as well.

If he improves his faceoff totals and his foot spedd I think he can be up to around the 60 pts region. very good for both sidesa, especially if there is a 2012-13 playoff spot in the making.

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#37 BurkeTheTurd
July 20 2012, 11:15AM
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@EddieEdmonton

And what would you trade him for?

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#38 Reg Dunlop
July 20 2012, 11:16AM
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So, does signing Sam mean we are not getting Stan Ganger?

@Smokey Do you think lifts in his skates will help?

One year beats arbitration but the oil will have to pony up next year after a 20G, 40A season between 2 skilled wingers. For those haters who claim he is soft; I guess you would know seeing that you were all shredded and hunting bear with a knife at 22.

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#39 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
July 20 2012, 11:24AM
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@ Arch

Sounds like the Zamboni Driver is guilty as charged.

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#40 RexLibris
July 20 2012, 11:24AM
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I'm with Arch on this one.

Gagner is a 2nd line center who doesn't usually drive the play but has the skill and hockey sense to capitalize on the abilities of skilled wingers.

He is intelligent enough that his defensive play and faceoff percentages will rise as he studies those aspects.

From one perspective one might argue that he has hit a plateau in his offensive production. Another might describe it as dependable. Generally, we know what we can expect from Gagner night in and night out.

He is a fierce competitor and has been willing to fight much larger opponents (Olli Jokinen as an example) and while I don't have numbers to back it up, from my viewings, he seems to score most of his points roughtly 10 feet out of the net, meaning he goes to the high-traffic areas to score.

If he starts to take off, offensively, and the Oilers are forced to trade him because of the salary cap, then trading him a year or even three years from now, as a 25 year old center whose stats will have likely been padded by playing with some elite wingers is hardly a worst-case scenario for this team.

To my mind, Gagner is an ideal 2nd line center for this team in the many other tools he brings. Size shouldn't be the only thing to determine his suitability. I'd rather have a smaller player with a lot of fight than...well, Joe Thornton.

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#41 Bleeding Oil
July 20 2012, 11:31AM
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@ZamboniDriver

"He was convinced a 22 year old professional hockey player had plateaued despite all the evidence to the contrary."

His PPG% has been flat. In fact his best year was his rookie year. Since then, we have been building and adding star players and he remain flat. The last 3 years have all been .60 .61 and .62 - Zero improvement. Faceoff % last 5 years - 41, 42, 47, 43, 47 - still well below league average

We have built a young team around this star player and he has remained at 2008 performance. the kids are gonna surpass him real soon. He would be out the door if Galchenyuk was drafted first overall.

Unless I am missing something, please point me in the right direction

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#42 Dman09
July 20 2012, 11:33AM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

There's no time for proper English, man! We have the only center under 25 not named Nuge on this team to run out of town based on unquantifiable reasons!!

Better yet! We can harp on him for not doing things the Head Coach has gone on record saying he actually does well!

Put your grammar books away and start breathing out of your mouth ITS THE LATEST CRAZE

Ya no one is writing an essay here man. Spelling and grammar have no bearing. And those that bitch about it obviously have too much time on their hands to be worrying about something so pointless on a blog site.

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#43 Dman09
July 20 2012, 11:35AM
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Bleeding Oil wrote:

@ZamboniDriver

"He was convinced a 22 year old professional hockey player had plateaued despite all the evidence to the contrary."

His PPG% has been flat. In fact his best year was his rookie year. Since then, we have been building and adding star players and he remain flat. The last 3 years have all been .60 .61 and .62 - Zero improvement. Faceoff % last 5 years - 41, 42, 47, 43, 47 - still well below league average

We have built a young team around this star player and he has remained at 2008 performance. the kids are gonna surpass him real soon. He would be out the door if Galchenyuk was drafted first overall.

Unless I am missing something, please point me in the right direction

Ya I'm pretty sure hes already been surpassed by Hall Eberle and Hopkins.

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#44 Lochenzo
July 20 2012, 11:42AM
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Good to see that Sam has figured out what works for him. He's been working on his feet two summers in a row now.

If you re-watch his 8 point game, you'll notice that on each point, one thing is abundently consistent. Sam is moving his feet and he's moving towards the net.

If he can do this with consistency next year, I expect him to be a very good 2nd line centre and then we can end this debate that has raged since his sophmore year.

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#45 DSF
July 20 2012, 11:46AM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

Boo leading the team in +/-, boo having a better CorsiQoC than Eberle, boo the Head Coach praising Gagner's defensive game.

I dont care about any of that, he is no good in the defensive zone. BOOOOOO.

And plays the 8th toughest competition.

Time for Sam to step up against the toughs.

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#46 Cody anderson
July 20 2012, 11:48AM
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@EddieEdmonton

That is probably one of the worst thought out arguments I have ever heard. I would like every player on the team to have the same skill or more then they currently have and be 2" taller and 30 lbs heavier.

If the Oilers decide to replace Sam with a bigger #2 center I would be fine with it as long as that person brought a good percentage of the offensive ability that Gagner brings to the table. Sam is never going to be the #1 center of the future on this team or one of our top 3 players, but neither are most of the rest of the team. Other that the top 4 young guys sam would easily be our most coveted asset on offense and that includes Hemsky. If we were to field calls on both of them right now or any other forward not named Nuge, Hall, Eberle, or Yakupov there is no doubt that Gagner would warrant the most interest and bring back the most assets in a trade.

If you don't like him that is your right, but hoping we don't resign or let one of our high end tradeable asstes walk without fair compensation is crazy.

Gagner's first season Horcoff was hurt. Sam played 1st pp minutes and 1st line minutes the entire year. he had great success for a rookie. since then he has averaged less PP time, less 5 on 5 time, and has but up consistant points even while being winged by an assortment of wingers with very few having NHL skill.

He is getting better defensively. He was 1st on the team in +/- (I know that is skewed based on sheltered minutes, but it is impressive anyway) He is getting better on the dot. So there are improvements being made away from the offense while the offense stays consistant. With elite wingers, which are a possability this year I would guess we see further improvement both in numbers and the resy of his game and we will be looking at a bigger contract next year.

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#47 DOMINATOR
July 20 2012, 11:49AM
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gcw_rocks wrote:

Man, I hate the formatting on this site when you post:

2007-08 51

2008-09 44

2009-10 49

2010-11 51

2011-12 51

Let's see if adding a line between will improve formatting

Put it in context, the last three seasons were on last place team, to maintain those points with the turmoil in the organization and lack of confidence with coaching and supporting cast he is doing fine. He will break out next year and we will deal him.

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#48 vetinari
July 20 2012, 12:01PM
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This is probably the best result for both sides. Sam is a good hockey player tracking well, but he's not really exceptional at any aspect of the game at this point.

Also, playing with quality players helps to bring out a player's potential and Sam's line mates over the first few years were all over the roadmap.

I sincerely hope that Sam can become a defensively responsible option on the ice that can also be a plus player and rack up 60-75 points a season... but on the other hand... if he stagnates, I'd have no problems with moving him for a quality defenceman or a prospect like Grigerenko who could maybe fill that role better...

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#49 TKB2677
July 20 2012, 12:09PM
Trash it!
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I love this deal especially for the Oilers. It gives Gagner a VERY nice raise but also sends Gagner a clear message. The message being "we aren't sure what you are. If you want to be a second line center and be paid like a second line center. It's time to put up or shut up.".

Im my opinion a second line center should score at least 20 goals a season and be at least a 55 point player year in and year out. Plus they should be close to 50% on draws. Gagner over the last 5 seasons, hasn't scored 20 goals yet and hasn't gone over the 50 pt mark yet. Last season was his best season faceoff wise but he was still only 47.6%. That's getting better but still a ways to go. He hasn't even gone past his rookie season total of 49 points. He has averaged 15 goals and 44 points. That to me screams borderline, low end 2nd line center on a not very good team.

If scoring mid teens in goals and getting 40 points means you are a second line center. He's a scary thought. Eric Belanger has scored 15 or more goals 4 times and has scored 40 or more points twice. NO WAY in hell would I or anyone else say Belanger is a second line center. But if you look at what Gagner's average numbers are over his first 5 season, Belanger has put up numbers close to that plus he is significantly better at faceoffs. Scary if you think about it.

Gagner better pick his game up.

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#50 Next up, is Connor McJesus.
July 20 2012, 12:35PM
Trash it!
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Hearing alot of positive things about this Stan Ganger kid. Anyone know a little more about him, good draft pedigree?

Hockey DB has him at 6'4" 215lbs and skates like the wind. Release is unreal i heard, puck isn't visible when it leaves his stick.

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