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

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#2 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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#3 Harry
October 28 2013, 10:35PM
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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??

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#4 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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#5 **
October 28 2013, 06:26PM
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Arcobello and Hemsky together are a massive defensive liability. Better to slot Hemsky on the third line and put Arcobello on Gagner's right.

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#6 Oiler Al
October 28 2013, 10:24PM
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The brain trust of this team will likely send Arco down to OKC.While your buying airline tickets,get one for Ladner, he's useless, has never made a difference to this team and never will.

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#7 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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#8 **
October 28 2013, 11:06PM
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I really don't understand Oilers Nation love lust for Gagner.

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#9 gcw_rocks
October 28 2013, 07:19PM
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I never want to see Gagner at centre as long as Arcobello keeps delivering.

I would look at:

Lander - RNH - Eberle

Perron - Gordon - Hemsky

Gagner - Arcobello - Yakupov

And feed Yakupov's line the softest minutes I could manufacture.

Of course I would rather have Omark instead of Lander, but if that line is going to be fed tough minutes I would be okay with him as the defensive conscience of the line.

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#10 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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#11 Serious Gord
October 28 2013, 11:48PM
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Rod from Viking wrote:

Weber does not have a no-trade clause.

Then he is an idiot. His only other roadblock then is our lack of cap room.

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#12 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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#13 k
October 28 2013, 08:15PM
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They're $hittie wrote:

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.

You're disillusion, get some help

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#14 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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#15 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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#16 Hayek
October 28 2013, 06:55PM
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Wax Man Riley wrote:

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

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.

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#17 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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#18 Rheal1
October 28 2013, 08:16PM
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Watching the Habs game right now. Budaj is hot. Budaj is expandable as Carey Price seems to be where he belongs stats wise. Budaj would be a great fit for Edmonton. What do you guys think? Edmonton's 2nd round pick? Or a prospect?

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#19 Rheal1
October 28 2013, 08:19PM
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@Spydyr

"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...

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#20 BingBong
October 29 2013, 07:43AM
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I feel ashamed for even suggesting this, but what about Hall, Yakapov and our 1st for Weber? Would the Preds do it?

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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 Spydyr
October 28 2013, 08:05PM
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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...

Yes,really.

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

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#23 bulldog12
October 28 2013, 09:02PM
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Not sure why the debate is over Arco and Gagner Does anyone know where Hemsky is and what he's doing Arco 10 pts +3 Hemsky 6 pts -9 Typical Hemsky when you need a veteran to step up and score a goal do something anything to help this team he disappears He should go straight to the press box and that won't hurt his trade value because he has none

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#24 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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#25 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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#26 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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#27 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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#28 bulldog12
October 28 2013, 09:37PM
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We need a #1 dman Trade Yak and give them Hemsky Until that happens this team is going nowhere These guys can't even spell defense let alone play it It's time to give up on the swarm defense and get back to a basic simple system When they understand that then expand the system Every team we play has given up 20 less goals so the outcome is obvious

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#29 Rod from Viking
October 28 2013, 11:09PM
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@Jonathan Willis

Something that has really bothered me is the run of 06 was a combination of lightning in a bottle, the trap and a good job by Kevin Lowe with input by Mac T on picking up the right veteran players. The team had good goal tending,a stud defencemen some skill(Hemsky,Samsonoff) good face-off centers and grit all around, so why have we drafted and acquired basically none of these type of players since? Kevin Lowe "did" no a bit about winning. Maybe ownership had input on more than the Yakapov selection?

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#30 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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#31 Rheal1
October 29 2013, 04:55AM
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@Spydyr

I am a bit perplexed by your reply to me. Borderline childish: " Go to bed you are drunk". No. wasn't drunk. As a bonus I am also not blind. Why do you think there is a cap? Why are there more concussions since the league make attempts to prevent them? Why cant average paid worker afford tickets? Why is officiating routinely borderline incompetent? Why is the commissioner an idiot? Why wont expansion come to Canada when its a ripe market? There are some serious issues in this league. Ridiculous contracts. Injuries. Exorbitant operating costs. Minor league talented players abound in the NHL, clutching, grabbing and cheap shotting NHL talent level players. I'll let you be the judge... Two of the NHL best ever players referred to the NHL as a garage league: Brett Hull & Mario Lemieux. I rest my case.

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#32 big slick
October 28 2013, 06:56PM
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They're $hittie wrote:

Line 3 would get eaten alive.

Yak needs his right handed passer (gagner).

And Smyth?

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#33 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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#34 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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#35 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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#36 gcw_rocks
October 29 2013, 06:01AM
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Rheal1 wrote:

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.

Can't play Hall, he is injured. Nice to see you are keeping up on the roster.

Gagner Yakupov line will get eaten alive and wastes Perron. Gagner is not strong enough defensively to play centre. Also not smart to move him studio Perron away from Hemsky. Good luck in your GM career, hopefully in Calgary.

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#37 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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#38 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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#39 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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#40 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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#41 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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#42 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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#43 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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#45 TeeVee
October 28 2013, 10:15PM
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Zarny wrote:

YEAH BABY!!!

Too bad she prefers pie over sausage.

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#46 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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#47 Serious Gord
October 29 2013, 07:28AM
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@David S

The oil has an abundance of talented, small fwds. Gagner is surplus that can be traded to fill other roles.

Not "just as good" but also different.

There are other teams with far less top End scoring talent than EDM that are doing much better - CGY being one. Among other things those teams are far better balanced.

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#48 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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#49 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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#50 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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