Is Sam Gagner on the verge of returning to the Oilers?

Jonathan Willis
October 28 2013 06:20PM

 

The Oilers might be about to get some welcome – and oh so rare – good news on the injury front. According to TSN’s Bob McKenzie, Gagner is “getting much closer to a return” and McKenzie hints that the Oilers’ centre could be back basically any day now.

McKenzie’s tweet comes four days after the Edmonton Journal’s Joanne Ireland offered the most recent update on Gagner’s health.

A Brief History of an Injury

Zack Kassian’s reckless use of his stick ended up breaking Gagner’s jaw and leaving his face a bit of a mess:

The injury came on September 21; at the time the expectation was that Gagner would miss six-to-eight weeks, putting his estimated time of return sometime around the first half of November. Roughly a week later, at the start of October, Gagner told the Journal’s Jim Matheson that he wanted that timeline down to four or five weeks; tomorrow will mark the fourth week since Gagner made that comment to Matheson.

Gagner has been practicing with the team for 10 days, now it’s just a matter of him being cleared to play.

The Lineup

How do the Oilers adjust their lines if Gagner is ready, for instance, to play against the Maple Leafs on Tuesday? Dallas Eakins could choose to stick him in the top-six immediately, displacing one of Mark Arcobello, Ales Hemsky or Nail Yakupov, or he could ease him in as a second centre on Boyd Gordon’s line.

After watching Mark Arcobello’s line struggle against the Kings’ Anze Kopitar (and in fairness, the whole team was struggling), I personally like the idea of bumping Gagner into the top-six and sticking Arcobello on Boyd Gordon’s line, like so:

  • 1. Nail Yakupov – Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – Jordan Eberle
  • 2. David Perron – Sam Gagner – Ales Hemsky
  • 3. Ryan Jones – Boyd Gordon – Mark Arcobello
  • 4. Luke Gazdic/Anton Lander – Will Acton – Ben Eager

Gagner gives the Oilers options, though the similarity of a bunch of these forwards makes constructing balanced lines difficult. The team is still better with him than without him.

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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, Sportsnet, the Edmonton Journal and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
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#1 blindref
October 28 2013, 06:39PM
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With Arcobello's numbers in the faceoff circle and Gagne's history of failures at the same stat, would it not be better to put Gags on the wing and let Arcobello keep going as long as he keep contributing?

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#2 Klima's Mullet
October 28 2013, 06:26PM
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Power play will look better with 89 out there

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#3 Zarny
October 28 2013, 07:50PM
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You know why I look forward to Gagner's return?

He's played 301 more NHL games than Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.

In fact, Gagner has played more games (414) than Hall (180), Nuge (113), Yakupov (59) and J. Schultz (61) COMBINED. 414 to 413.

Oiler fans need to get a grip. You don't wet your pants after 12 games. Especially when a slow start was ridiculously obvious.

The worst thing Lowe did in the off-season was talk about winning. In the mix for 7-10th was realistic but playoffs was best case scenario.

The core (Hall, Eberle, Nuge, Yak, Schultz) won't be ready to contend for at least 2 years. Sorry that's just how it works. Being a #1 pick doesn't give them magical powers.

The needs are obvious: size and strength in the top 6 F, a shutdown D and G.

It's a short list of players that fit the bill. Those trades/moves take time. Relax. Chill out.

The Oilers were never going to win the Cup this year. Making the playoffs was always about getting pasted in the 1st round for the experience. 10th isn't the end of the world. We can draft a power F.

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#5 Muji
October 28 2013, 06:35PM
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I don't mind bumping Arcobello - who's been great - down to the 3rd line, but I do wonder what the implications are of having 2 strong faceoff men on the 3rd line and 2 relatively weak faceoff men in the top 6 (Nuge, Gagner).

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#6 Loweblows
October 28 2013, 10:37PM
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It doesnt matter who is healthy and returns to the lineup, this is another lost season and its not even November. Hard to get excited about who is returning when not even Wayne Gretzky could dig them out this hole. Im sure their record will improve as the wounded return but looking at the teams ahead of them, barring significant injuries to their lineups, I dont see them catching any of the eight above the cut. 8 years without playoffs. Book it.

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#7 spliff
October 28 2013, 06:31PM
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Who cares? We need a top 4 D-man and a tough-ass forward with size.

Honestly, how is a player of Sam Gagner's size and skill set going to make a difference?

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#8 Rheal1
October 28 2013, 07:19PM
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This is my take on things..... New coach, new system, injured key players. Defence is a light question mark as well as goaltending. By mid-November - and some higher power keep the kids from being injured - we will have a few players back; namely Hall and Gagner. Hopefully team chemistry as well as rising morale will bring some good winning streaks. By December we will see what kind of team we have.

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#9 David S
October 28 2013, 11:04PM
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Even with Gagner's slump last year, 38 points over 48 games is equivalent to 65 points over a regular season. And at 23 you can bet he'll be better this year.

Just when exactly was the last time Edmonton had a 70 point 2LC that can score 25-30?

Right.

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#10 Serious Gord
October 28 2013, 10:38PM
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Harry wrote:

Ive got to get this conversation going. Ill set the over/under for Weber.

Yakupov Hemsky Marincin 2014 1st rounder

For

Weber + 3/4th line salary cap plug

So, over/under......THOUGHTS??

I will presume that weber has a NTC and therefore there is no chance he moves from beautiful Nashville to this joke of an organization.

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#11 Hair bag
October 28 2013, 08:16PM
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** wrote:

Arcobello and Hemsky together are a massive defensive liability. Better to slot Hemsky on the third line and put Arcobello on Gagner's right.

Arco has been one of the better Oilers positionally. He doesn't crush guys but he always finishes his checks and most importantly gets body position between the opposition and his goal, he is also good with his stick....

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#12 Harry
October 28 2013, 10:43PM
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Serious Gord wrote:

I will presume that weber has a NTC and therefore there is no chance he moves from beautiful Nashville to this joke of an organization.

He doesnt have a NTC

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#13 TM8Trent
October 29 2013, 01:13AM
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Zarny wrote:

Let's not bring flapjacks into this.

You know who Patrice Bergeron played with in the playoffs?

Milan Lucic 6'4" 220lb and Nathan Horton 6'2" 229 lbs.

That's what Edm is missing.

Right skill level with Hall, Eberle, Yak and Perron. They just need 2 of them to be 6'2" 220 lbs.

Or for 1 of Gagner or Nuge to be built like a Staal brother.

Aside from the shutdown D and G thingy.

Chicago are the defending Stanley Cup champs, not Boston. Let's have a look at that top 6 forward corps of the Cup-winning line-up for the Hawks.

Who is =/> 6'2 and 220lbs? Well, nobody is.

PATRICK KANE 5' 11" 181 PATRICK SHARP 6' 1" 199 JONATHAN TOEWS 6' 2" 208 MARCUS KRUGER 6' 0" 181 MARIAN HOSSA 6' 1" 210 VIKTOR STALBERG 6' 3" 209

None are over 210. 3 of them are under 200.

Average? 6'1" 198 lbs Average age of top 6 at the time they won the cup? 26.3.

The Oilers top 6 with a full line-up:

RNH 6' 1" 180 TAYLOR HALL 6' 1" 201 JORDAN EBERLE 5' 11" 180 SAM GAGNER 5' 11" 202 DAVID PERRON 6' 0" 198 NAIL YAKUPOV 5' 11" 186

Current average? 6' 0" 191 lbs Current average age? 22.2

The Oilers top 6 is still very young and over the next 3 years I think we all agree that they will gain some muscle & bulk into their mid 20's. In 3 years the average weight of the top 6 will be very close to that of the Hawks when they won a cup.

I assume Taylor Hall will be 210-215 in 3 years based on his frame. RNH 190. Yakupov 195. Gags 205. Perron 205. Ebs 185.

Would an inch in height and couple lbs per player actually be the reason the Oilers don't win a Cup with their current top 6? I have trouble believing that.

Now finding Keith & Seabrook, and a big, tough bottom 6 that forechecks like their lives depend on it is a different issue altogether :)

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#14 Smokey
October 28 2013, 08:18PM
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Hayek wrote:

I'd argue the exact opposite. Facing soft opposition, this is a 3rd line that would absolutely crush the opposition, and have an amazing corsi.

I'd like to have what your having.

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#15 They're $hittie
October 28 2013, 06:51PM
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Spoils wrote:

after 4 effortless Omark goals, Yak's icebreaker, and Arcobello's 10 apples, I like this full health setup:

Hall - RNH - Eberle

Perron - Gagner - Hemsky

Omark - Arcobello - Yak

Joensuu - Gordon - Jones

(Gazdic)

Line 3 would get eaten alive.

Yak needs his right handed passer (gagner).

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#16 They're $hittie
October 28 2013, 08:06PM
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@k

the only thing arco does better is face offs. Arco is smaller, has no hands and cant score. I like him but he is no going to continue at this pace and is no where near as gagner.

And despite his plus minus he is not that good defensively. Gagner was oilers top pp guy and on of the top three pk guy last year. Yet people are wondering why the oilers special team suck.

FO may be better, but the team is softer, less talented, and worse special teams with Nuge-Arco as your top two centers than they are with Nuge-Gagner.

The people saying replace Gagner with Arco are the same guys who didnt recognize Gagners hot start last year and are now giving a smaller less skilled player more credit for a good start (not as good as sams) just so they can keep hating.

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#17 Spoils
October 28 2013, 06:44PM
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after 4 effortless Omark goals, Yak's icebreaker, and Arcobello's 10 apples, I like this full health setup:

Hall - RNH - Eberle

Perron - Gagner - Hemsky

Omark - Arcobello - Yak

Joensuu - Gordon - Jones

(Gazdic)

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#18 Zarny
October 28 2013, 08:00PM
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Rheal1 wrote:

"Unfortunately the team does not need another small,skilled ,soft player.They have too many of them already."

?????

Reallly???

May I suggest Penner? Yes? Might as well go back to those days. Nothing wrong with small players: Brendan Gallagher rings a bell? Want tough & small? Patrice Bergeron in the playoffs; fractured ribs. I'll keep this 2013-14 Edmonton roster thank you very much. Can't wait to see you back here in March as a super Gagner groupie...

Let's not bring flapjacks into this.

You know who Patrice Bergeron played with in the playoffs?

Milan Lucic 6'4" 220lb and Nathan Horton 6'2" 229 lbs.

That's what Edm is missing.

Right skill level with Hall, Eberle, Yak and Perron. They just need 2 of them to be 6'2" 220 lbs.

Or for 1 of Gagner or Nuge to be built like a Staal brother.

Aside from the shutdown D and G thingy.

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#19 westcoastoil
October 28 2013, 08:07PM
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@Zarny

on a more serious note though, how hot is Megan Fox

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#20 Rheal1
October 28 2013, 07:31PM
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@gcw_rocks

Folks like you will keep this team in the stink tank. Talk to Kevin Lowe as he may give you a job in the organization. HALL- RNH- EBERLE PERRON- GAGNER- YAKUPOV ARCOBELLO- GORDON- HEMSKY

There's your three scoring lines. Arcobello is cold now. aybe this is where he belongs, plus Hemsky by playing less minutes could remain healthy. Smitty can rest on the 4th with Jonesy.

Time will tell.

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#21 Rheal1
October 28 2013, 07:48PM
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@Spydyr

"Unfortunately the team does not need another small,skilled ,soft player.They have too many of them already."

?????

Reallly???

May I suggest Penner? Yes? Might as well go back to those days. Nothing wrong with small players: Brendan Gallagher rings a bell? Want tough & small? Patrice Bergeron in the playoffs; fractured ribs. I'll keep this 2013-14 Edmonton roster thank you very much. Can't wait to see you back here in March as a super Gagner groupie...

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#22 k
October 28 2013, 07:50PM
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Gagner solves nothing - plays too small, poor defensively , can't win a draw, never developed as a pro. Arcobello does more making $600,000

Having Gags, Hemsky & Smyth signed has crippled any meaningful progression with this team.

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#23 Rod from Viking
October 28 2013, 10:43PM
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@Serious Gord

Weber does not have a no-trade clause.

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#24 David S
October 28 2013, 10:52PM
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k wrote:

Gagner solves nothing - plays too small, poor defensively , can't win a draw, never developed as a pro. Arcobello does more making $600,000

Having Gags, Hemsky & Smyth signed has crippled any meaningful progression with this team.

Until Arcobello can do anything even remotely close to this:

http://youtu.be/znJaA9CZ1K8

your argument is "somewhat flawed".

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#25 Wax Man Riley
October 28 2013, 06:52PM
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Spoils wrote:

after 4 effortless Omark goals, Yak's icebreaker, and Arcobello's 10 apples, I like this full health setup:

Hall - RNH - Eberle

Perron - Gagner - Hemsky

Omark - Arcobello - Yak

Joensuu - Gordon - Jones

(Gazdic)

You forgot Smyth, but also, Omark Arco Yak is recipe for -1000 corsi, +/-, shot differential, and any other defensive stat you got.

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#26 Lottery
October 28 2013, 07:53PM
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Yawn. Wake me at the draft , or when Daley is pulling the cards out of his briefcase. Maybe 6Rings should be there with his smug grin and Bucky in tow. Draft another 1,2,or 3 prospect 3-5 years away. This is embarrassing .

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#27 David S
October 29 2013, 01:10AM
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Serious Gord wrote:

As this thread proves, there are similar players of gagner's type already on the team. And thus, while a decent player he can be moved for another decent player with a skillset that addresses one or more of this teams obvious shortcomings.

Arcobello being anywhere near Gagner is a phantom. Yeah he's piling up the assists and is decent on the dot, but how much better than Gagner?

Gagner is great on the PP and one of our best PK'ers, both of which seem to be sucking at the present moment. He's also pretty damn decent in shootouts if I remember correctly. Not to mention he can put up goals. How does Arcobello compare? Riiight.

You may not like the cut of his jib but he scores, PK's, and PP's like a madman. And he goes all-in every game. Like I said, when was the last time we had a 60-70 point 2LC?

What do you hope to gain by trading him?

Hint: The guy you bring in has to be at least as good. And you'll end up paying him as least as much.

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#28 Spydyr
October 28 2013, 07:01PM
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Good news on Gagner's recovery that was an awful injury.

Unfortunately the team does not need another small,skilled ,soft player.They have too many of them already.

What the teams needs is a big, skilled, gritty player.

It is well past time the "braintrust" address that need.Last I checked if you have the balls you can make a trade using what you have too much of, for something that you need.

I'm not holding my breath.

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#29 Larry
October 28 2013, 10:59PM
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blindref wrote:

With Arcobello's numbers in the faceoff circle and Gagne's history of failures at the same stat, would it not be better to put Gags on the wing and let Arcobello keep going as long as he keep contributing?

It doesn't matter if they win the faceoff. They give the puck up right away anyway...

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#30 Jay
October 28 2013, 07:58PM
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Where's the articles about this upcoming draft prospects?? We get even more time than usual to familiarize ourselves with this years crop

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#31 Rod from Viking
October 28 2013, 08:25PM
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Zarny wrote:

Let's not bring flapjacks into this.

You know who Patrice Bergeron played with in the playoffs?

Milan Lucic 6'4" 220lb and Nathan Horton 6'2" 229 lbs.

That's what Edm is missing.

Right skill level with Hall, Eberle, Yak and Perron. They just need 2 of them to be 6'2" 220 lbs.

Or for 1 of Gagner or Nuge to be built like a Staal brother.

Aside from the shutdown D and G thingy.

Exactly 100% accurate

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#32 Zarny
October 28 2013, 08:33PM
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westcoastoil wrote:

on a more serious note though, how hot is Megan Fox

YEAH BABY!!!

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#33 **
October 28 2013, 11:06PM
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I really don't understand Oilers Nation love lust for Gagner.

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#34 They're $hittie
October 28 2013, 08:21PM
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@k

you are the only person in the world that would replace a proven 45 point guy who just broke out at the age of 23 and has six years of experience for a smaller less skilled guy who cant hit an open net.

And I guess the fact that Gagner pp60 on the pp last year was tops on the oilers and that in the fist 40 games of the season, all in which saw gagner penalty kill he was only on the ice for one goal against, and at the end of the year only three against. Best amongst oiler regular killers. But I guess you dont like hard stats like that.

You are the delusional one.

So what is it other than faceoffs does Arco do better than Gagner?

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#35 Hair bag
October 28 2013, 08:44PM
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Rod from Viking wrote:

I don't know why a lot of people don't think Arco can play further down in the line up, he might score some goals playing with someone who can knock the other teams player off the puck and is sound defensively.

I think he deserves a shot, he plays a lot more intelligent game than most of the guys on the team and who knows maybe he adds something to the third line - nobody really expected him to do what he's done so far, lets see what else he can do....

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#36 Serious Gord
October 28 2013, 08:45PM
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Now that getting into the playoffs is a near statistical impossibility there is no rush to get gagner into the line up.

Have him take his time and then showcase him for a couple of months before the trade deadline so the oil can move him for a player who fills one of the gaping holes in the line up. Bringing him back early will only suppress his stats and lower his trade value.

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#37 Copper
October 28 2013, 10:37PM
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spliff wrote:

Who cares? We need a top 4 D-man and a tough-ass forward with size.

Honestly, how is a player of Sam Gagner's size and skill set going to make a difference?

What does size have to with it? Crosby is approx same size. You most be reading and listening to Jason Negative.

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#38 David S
October 28 2013, 10:57PM
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Serious Gord wrote:

Now that getting into the playoffs is a near statistical impossibility there is no rush to get gagner into the line up.

Have him take his time and then showcase him for a couple of months before the trade deadline so the oil can move him for a player who fills one of the gaping holes in the line up. Bringing him back early will only suppress his stats and lower his trade value.

As has been painfully obvious so far, Gagner being out IS one of the gaping holes in the lineup.

So you're down with creating a hole in the lineup to fill a hole in the lineup?

~Seems legit.~

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#39 DonDon
October 28 2013, 11:38PM
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David S wrote:

As has been painfully obvious so far, Gagner being out IS one of the gaping holes in the lineup.

So you're down with creating a hole in the lineup to fill a hole in the lineup?

~Seems legit.~

Contrary to Willis' fawning that Gagner's early return is some welcome and so rare good news, not all share this thought.

Better to give Gagner more time to heal from a terrible injury. Besides, under the present circumstances the centre position is in reasonably good hands and it's painfully obvious Gagner is't that great a centre (see MacT's comments at the beginning of the year, where he mused that Gagner should play on the wing).

In fact, Gagner may not fit on a wing either due to lack of size, lack of physicality and turnovers. Better to get him fully recovered and make a trade before he qualifies for NT/NM.

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#40 Osama Bin Laden
October 28 2013, 06:23PM
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First comment b*tches

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#41 Hair bag
October 28 2013, 08:16PM
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** wrote:

Arcobello and Hemsky together are a massive defensive liability. Better to slot Hemsky on the third line and put Arcobello on Gagner's right.

Arco has been one of the better Oilers positionally. He doesn't crush guys but he always finishes his checks and most importantly gets body position between the opposition and his goal, he is also good with his stick....

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#42 Hairbag
October 28 2013, 08:38PM
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Rod from Viking wrote:

Exactly 100% accurate

Actually Krejci centred Lucic and Horton but your point is the same that Boston had 3 guys (Jagr as well) that were 6'2"+ and 220lb+ in their top six....

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#43 Spydyr
October 28 2013, 08:24PM
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Rheal1 wrote:

"If you don't see that you don't understand NHL hockey.Especially playoff hockey."

Hmmm... We all know that the way things are going this garage league (NHL) will implode within 5 years. Have fun with your playoffs...

Go to bed you are drunk.

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#44 The Beaker
October 29 2013, 06:50AM
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dregger just said he (gags) was playing tonight.

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#45 Jay
October 28 2013, 08:59PM
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Man we are getting good practice for the upcoming race for Conner McDavid! No one can blow like this team blows. Shouldn't be a problem coming in last again next season

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#46 Quicksilver ballet
October 28 2013, 11:09PM
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Serious Gord wrote:

Now that getting into the playoffs is a near statistical impossibility there is no rush to get gagner into the line up.

Have him take his time and then showcase him for a couple of months before the trade deadline so the oil can move him for a player who fills one of the gaping holes in the line up. Bringing him back early will only suppress his stats and lower his trade value.

Well said sir.

What 2 players would be on your shopping list? Couturier?

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#47 Serious Gord
October 29 2013, 12:30AM
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What does it take to beat the optimism of some delusional fans?

Assuming 95 pts will be the bar for making the playoffs (it may be slightly less than that in the west due to the play off format change. But the west is much stronger than the east and minn is holding down the last spot on track for a 94.6 pt season - thus EDM would have to beat that (95 pts) if the trend holds.).

In order to get to that point threshold the oil would have to go 38-20-11 or 38-18-13

To put that in perspective: they have to play as well as St. Louis or Boston did all of last year.

Were they to do that they would have achieved the greatest resurrection of a season in the history of hockey's modern era.

Thus making managerial decisions in the hopes of making the playoffs - short-term gain for long term pain - is pure folly and should be a fireable offense.

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#48 Spydyr
October 29 2013, 05:19AM
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Harry wrote:

Ive got to get this conversation going. Ill set the over/under for Weber.

Yakupov Hemsky Marincin 2014 1st rounder

For

Weber + 3/4th line salary cap plug

So, over/under......THOUGHTS??

I'm over.Over any talk about trading for Weber.It is s pipe dream.Just wish people would put down the pipe.

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#49 Rod from Viking
October 28 2013, 08:30PM
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Hair bag wrote:

Arco has been one of the better Oilers positionally. He doesn't crush guys but he always finishes his checks and most importantly gets body position between the opposition and his goal, he is also good with his stick....

I don't know why a lot of people don't think Arco can play further down in the line up, he might score some goals playing with someone who can knock the other teams player off the puck and is sound defensively.

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#50 madjam
October 28 2013, 09:19PM
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Oilers are proof you don't need size , grit or toughness to win in NHL on a consistent basis (tongue in cheek) . If your making big bucks are you going to try bashing around with the big players and defences and risk destroying your career prematurely during regular season especially ? I doubt it , and who could blame them . When big men hit you , more often then not it's in your head area because they are that much taller . Can't expect those players to curl up small to hit the smaller players now can we . If you got size but no grit or toughness then that's a different story . You people wonder why we have so many injuries each year , I think it pretty obvious . We instill in our smaller players to play bigger than what they are capable of or even good at . To many of our skilled players are lightweights on our club that needs weeding out . Till we do our results will be minimal, unless they devise a system that can neutralize the new NHL size issue .

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