OVERNIGHT SENSATION?

Lowetide
January 15 2013 05:49PM

 

It's early, but Sam Gagner's spot on the depth chart isn't clouded by injury, old timey coaching or worries over what he doesn't bring to the dance. Dave Gagner's boy may be poised for a big season. 

A year ago, Sam Gagner missed opening night and the 6 games afterward, joining the battle in G7 against the NY Rangers on October 22nd. He played RW alongside Eric Belanger and Magnus Paajarvi, and was 2-0 at evens according to Dennis King scoring chances. Gagner spent large portions of last season outside the feature lines, and didn't score a goal his 20th game of the season. Gagner's splits suggest a very uneven season, and his pre and post All-Star performances reflect it:

  • Pre All-Star game: 42, 5-16-21 -4 (.5 points-per-game)
  • Post All-Star game: 33, 13-13-26 +9 (.788 points-per-game)

Gagner had excellent timing a year ago, scoring an amazing 8-points in one night against Chicago during a period where his name was mentioned in trade rumors. He is 23 years old, a veteran of 366 NHL games, improved markedly in the faceoff circle and in plus minus compared to team.  

SAM GAGNER 11-12

  • 5×5 points per 60: 1.96 (4th among regular forwards)
  • 5×4 points per 60: 3.66 (6th among regular forwards)
  • Qual Comp: 8th toughest among regular forwards
  • Qual Team: 6th best teammates among regular forwards
  • Corsi Rel: 6.3 (4th best among regular forwards)
  • Zone Start: 54.1% (4th easiest among regular forwards)
  • Zone Finish: 51.8% (4th best among regular forwards)
  • Shots on goal/percentage: 149/12.1% (5th among F’s>100 shots)
  • Boxcars: 75, 18-29-47
  • Plus Minus: +5 on a team that was -26

This week in training camp, coach Krueger has Samwise between Ales Hemsky and Nail Yakupov: two elite passers and the Kalashnikov Machinegun. As consolation wingers, Hemmer and the Nail are stunning, and 89 should be able to find chemistry with these two--certainly better chem than he had last season in the Belanger-Paajarvi days. 

KRUEGER!

Pat Quinn never did figure out Samwise and Tom Renney had his moments too. Ralph Krueger appears to mark the return of 'rational thinking' behind the Oilers bench, and placing Gagner between Ales Hemsky and Nail Yakupov is a very good sign. That trio should also get plenty of PP time on the #2PP unit (Horcoff and Hartikainen appear to be getting the push onto the #1PP with the whiz kids) and one expects a pretty good secondary unit to grow out of such a talented bunch.

WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?

Sam Gagner is still a young hockey player and should have a decade or more playing a huge role on an NHL team. For the first time in awhile, it looks like the coach is onside with Kevin Lowe and management in terms of Sam Gagner's best role: a skill center on a skill line. No more Belanger-Paajarvi, or so we hope.

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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 TSN 1260.
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#51 Jefff
January 15 2013, 10:11PM
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One of the 2 centers on winning teams has a Selke potential winner.

That why going after Ryan O'Reilly would be huge.

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#52 DSF
January 15 2013, 10:12PM
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Bonvie wrote:

Hmm that sounds about right for the second line center. Checking line gets toughest competition, then the first line will also play alot against the toughest competition because the other team also gets to line match on the road, and I am sure last year with our first line being so young the opposing coach would want to put their top line either against our first or fourth line.

If neither of your top two lines can take on tough competition, you're going to lose...a lot.

Opposition coaches will line match and, if all you have to send over the boards is Horcoff (-23), you're going to get killed.

There's a reason the Oilers finished 29th last season.

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#53 Jefff
January 15 2013, 10:20PM
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@Mikey

Your probably right the word "sandpaper" is the wrong word but grit isn't.

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#54 Rocket
January 15 2013, 10:35PM
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Johe wrote:

Gags has some sandpaper. He's fought a number of times, and in most cases against opponents substantially bigger than him. Any skill player who does that has my respect.

And it's true that he is not the best second line centre around, but he IS a second line centre. You can't possibly tell me there are sixty other centres in this league that are more productive. However, it may also be true that on this particular team, Gagner is not a great fit. RNH, undisputedly the No. 1, is a player with a similar skill set(although amplified), so it might benefit the Oilers to target someone more in the vein of a Ryan Kesler(sans the diving and whining) or a Jordan Staal. Someone who, in addition to putting up points befitting a second line centre, can kill penalties, use his size down low, etc.

Regardless, I will continue to root for Gags and believe in him. He plays with heart, he never complains, and he has represented the Oilers logo well. Good guy, good player. Hopefully he gets his first taste of playoff hockey this year. Go Oil. :)

Totally agree.

Plus he has O.K. to good trade value.

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#55 Dog Train
January 15 2013, 10:40PM
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He's the 2nd best option in the middle for us right now. He is an offensive minded player and since he has been an Oiler, he has never been given the push to play with talented players like he will this season. Hopefully, Sammy can bring it from start to finish this season and really form a solid second line with the Hemmer and the Nail.

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Stack Pad Save wrote:

They might not all have sandpaper, but they are all very hard to play against. The softest guy on the list is probably Patrick Sharp IMHO. It is obvious that strength down the middle in terms of quality players is vital to Stanley Cup success. I do not think that a combination of Sam Gagner and RNH can win the Oilers a Cup. I think we need a better 2nd line center. That being said, I do think that Sam Gagner could have a much improved year, which would hopefully allow the Oilers to use him in a trade for a better 2nd line center.

Hey I don't disagree with you as far as strong centers for Cup runs. However, we haven't seen either RNH or Gagner play in the playoffs yet. You never know how some play in the playoffs. Until the Bruins won, did anyone think that Bergeron and Kreji could bring home a Cup? Patrick Sharp?

It still comes down to total team play but yes strong centers is a key component. I just don't understand people who want to replace Gagner with another center who also have never won a Cup.

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#57 Steve
January 15 2013, 10:48PM
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@The poster formerly known as Koolaid drinker #33

Bilbo

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#58 Jefff
January 15 2013, 10:51PM
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Bergeron one of the best centers in the world, he did play for Canada in the Olympics. Selke winner.

Sharp is a talented scorer but they had best player in the world that year Toews did everything. They also had a great 3rd line center. They had too much talent that year.

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#59 Bonvie
January 15 2013, 10:58PM
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@DSF

Yeah this is a new year, the all rookie line wont have difficulties this year against the top lines in the west. I think the reason why other teams avoided their top line against Gagner's last year was they had an all rookie line to target. This year Nugents line is more likely to draw the checking line, as last year Gagner's line was getting the checkers.

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#60 Oilertown
January 15 2013, 11:39PM
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DSF wrote:

Not to mention Hulu Plus!

Question though DSF think when I tried hulu plus it told me that it recognized my CC was Canadian and would not let me sign up.

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#61 NewfoundlandOil
January 16 2013, 03:05AM
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This discussion over Gagner is the same every time. This is his time to show he can do more or he won't be here past the trade deadline. There is a reason he got the contract term he got.

Question: how many would trade Gagner for a signed Ryan O'Rielly + right now?

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#62 Spydyr
January 16 2013, 08:24AM
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misfit wrote:

All I want to know about Gagner is when we start calling him the carpenter?

He should be called Zamboni...... Because he is cleaning the ice every other shift.

If he cannot make hay with the Hammer and the Nail. He can't do it with anyone. It is a put up or GTFO year for Sam.

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#63 Mike Modano's Dog
January 16 2013, 08:43AM
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@Shaun

what? ...unless I missed some joke from earlier comments, that is!

Call me an optimist, but based on how Slammin' Sammy is looking right now I'll guess he's on his way to a 70 point season or so - barring injury, of course. And yes, you can hold me to it at the end of the season, too.

I'll be going to the practice again today, but man he looks good - he's just 'on' and I agree with L.T. here, he's looking poised to 'break out'! :)

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#64 Mike Modano's Dog
January 16 2013, 08:45AM
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Love the Hemmer & Nail combination, too! :D

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#65 Shredder
January 16 2013, 08:55AM
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Over time, Gagner will show just how important he is to this team. We need a #2 centre, and he has proven to be a pretty good one. He's only a year older than Eberle, and he's picked up his faceoff % while Eberle has worked on his Shooting %. That being said, this is too short a season for him to be breaking the "50 point" threshold...

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#66 Crispy
January 16 2013, 09:21AM
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Fist?

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#67 Hair bag
January 16 2013, 09:38AM
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@Jefff

Sandpaper???? The only guy on your list that has any true grit is Richards! The rest are all highly competitive and extremely skilled - both traits that I think Gagner has just not at the level that those guys display consistently. But he also hasn't had the teammates/line mates that those guys have had the fortune of playing with throughout their NHL careers. I think this will be a telling year of what Gagner can truly be. If you look at Patrick Sharpe's career, he didn't even play regularly in the NHL until he was 24 and never broke the 40 point barrier until he was 25 - Gagner deserves another year or 2 to see what he can do.

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#68 Hair bag
January 16 2013, 09:38AM
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Jefff wrote:

Can't win the cup win when your #2 is Gagner with this team

No sandpaper.

Mike Richards Anže Kopitar

Patrice Bergeron David Krejčí

Jonathan Toews Patrick Sharp

Evgeni Malkin Sidney Crosby

Pavel Datsyuk Henrik Zetterberg

Sandpaper???? The only guy on your list that has any true grit is Richards! The rest are all highly competitive and extremely skilled - both traits that I think Gagner has just not at the level that those guys display consistently. But he also hasn't had the teammates/line mates that those guys have had the fortune of playing with throughout their NHL careers. I think this will be a telling year of what Gagner can truly be. If you look at Patrick Sharpe's career, he didn't even play regularly in the NHL until he was 24 and never broke the 40 point barrier until he was 25 - Gagner deserves another year or 2 to see what he can do.

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#69 DSF
January 16 2013, 09:41AM
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Oilertown wrote:

Question though DSF think when I tried hulu plus it told me that it recognized my CC was Canadian and would not let me sign up.

I set up a U.S. iTunes account, loaded it up with U.S. iTunes gift cards and paid that way.

No problem.

You can buy the gift cards on eBay

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#70 nunyour
January 16 2013, 09:44AM
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i'm a gagner fan,gives all he's got,works hard to improve his game,getting better every year at face-offs,willing to drop the gloves when need be,and he is still a young man,a couple years and 15 lbs. and he will be a hand full

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#71 positivebrontefan
January 16 2013, 09:50AM
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It will be interesting to see how the opposition spreads its defence between out top two lines. Should get everyone a little more room on the ice. Thats what having a legit top six will do, it'll spread out the oppositions defence. May even see some decent production from our third line if this is the case. I'm not a fan of putting out our checking line against the other teams best line as it takes away icetime from our top lines. Put our best line against theirs and see how they matchup.

Go Oilers!

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#72 KSC10032
January 16 2013, 10:14AM
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DSF wrote:

Bergeron is 6'2" and 195.

Krejci is 6'0" 190.

Gagner is 5'10" 200.

The major difference is the Bruins centre are also more skilled.

And -- for Sam to be either 5'10" OR 200 lbs -- they're counting some of him twice, or he's carrying 20+ pounds of Tim-bits.

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#73 Quicksilver ballet
January 16 2013, 10:14AM
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@DSF

Thank you sir, for that Itunes tip.

...are you the least bit excited about Oilers camp this week. Eberle is a half a step quicker this year, a number of the wiley types (veterans) are due to have good years?

I know, every yr starts out with this type of optimism, doesn't it.

Are you going to enter this yrs Lucky 13 pool?

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#74 DSF
January 16 2013, 11:44AM
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Quicksilver ballet wrote:

Thank you sir, for that Itunes tip.

...are you the least bit excited about Oilers camp this week. Eberle is a half a step quicker this year, a number of the wiley types (veterans) are due to have good years?

I know, every yr starts out with this type of optimism, doesn't it.

Are you going to enter this yrs Lucky 13 pool?

Excited for hockey in general.

Most interested in the fortunes of the Wild and Blues since I've become much more a fan of smart GM's as opposed to any particular team.

Starting to think STL is my odds on favourite to win the cup.

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#75 DSF
January 16 2013, 11:45AM
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KSC10032 wrote:

And -- for Sam to be either 5'10" OR 200 lbs -- they're counting some of him twice, or he's carrying 20+ pounds of Tim-bits.

LOL.

I expect you're correct.

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#76 They're $hittie
January 16 2013, 04:39PM
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What ever Sam weighs and his height it is all relative to at minimum his team maybe the whole league.

Look at him stand next to Eberle. Hall. Yak. They all seem to be comparative in sizes to what they listed. If he is not 5'11" than neither is eberle. Hall is not 6'0" 1/2 etc.

At 195 his is definitely one of the more bulky players on the team for his height.

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#77 gcw_rocks
January 16 2013, 04:41PM
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Gagner + for O'Reilly? I think I would take that deal...

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#78 Time Travelling Sean
January 16 2013, 06:09PM
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@gcw_rocks

It looks like they're about to get some teams 1st and 3rd round picks instead.

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#79 Rama Lama
January 16 2013, 07:44PM
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If Sam can work on his foot speed and go back to using the many moves he had in his game when he first started........he will easily score 60 + points.

I'm not sure which coach ( Quinn or Renny ) stifiled his offensive game, but he changed the way he played after his first year.

This guy has heart,soul, and courage. We should not forget he is only 23!

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#80 B S
January 16 2013, 08:00PM
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They're $hittie wrote:

What ever Sam weighs and his height it is all relative to at minimum his team maybe the whole league.

Look at him stand next to Eberle. Hall. Yak. They all seem to be comparative in sizes to what they listed. If he is not 5'11" than neither is eberle. Hall is not 6'0" 1/2 etc.

At 195 his is definitely one of the more bulky players on the team for his height.

I hope he loses some of that weight through the season, that's getting to be quite heavy for someone of his height. It could become an injury risk.

I have the same concern for Nuge. He should be about 175 and holding (perhaps heavier at the start of the season to compensate for lost weight by the end).

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#81 William
January 23 2013, 09:15AM
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Sam is the worst defensive center in the league and has been for 5 years. After 5 years he still has no idea where to be in his own end or what to do. It's amazing a guy with this lack of defensive skills made the NHL. Sams smallest on the team.

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