Signs of Life

Jonathan Willis
November 22 2013 10:53AM

 

Sam Gagner, at all times a controversial player in Edmonton, has been particularly so this season. The impact of an early-season injury – from the time missed to playing with a full face shield to missed time – seems to have had serious repercussions on his play.

Last night may have been his best game of the season, the first sign that we’re back to watching the old Gagner .

Against Florida

The Oilers second line had a pretty good night against the Panthers. Gagner contributed a goal off a lovely Nail Yakupov feed, but more than that the line carried the play against Florida, out-chancing the opposition 6-2 at even-strength.

Five scoring chances came off Gagner’s stick and he was credited with seven shots on the night. Gagner’s only managed to record seven-or-more shots in a game four previous times in his career.

The Trend

The game against Florida has been the highlight of the season for Gagner, but it exemplifies a trend in recent games: he’s been better, even as the team around him has:

  • First seven games: zero goals, one assist, 12 shots
  • Last four games: one goal, three assists, 17 shots

Even prior to last night’s outing, Gagner has been on the rise, finally rewarding head coach Dallas Eakins’ faith in him after a lengthy slump. He’s shooting more, he’s scoring more and he’s playing better.

Musical Chairs

The obvious downside in Gagner’s resurgence comes at the individual level. Where does Mark Arcobello slot in now? The centre/right-winger isn’t going to supplant first-liner Ryan Nugent-Hopkins or specialist Boyd Gordon up the middle. The right wing depth chart (Eberle-Hemsky-Perron) looks pretty tight right now, too. Dallas Eakins has made it clear he wants a “heavy” fourth line, and Arcobello is many things but “heavy” isn’t one of them. Ryan Smyth could be bumped down and Perron returned to left wing, but Smyth’s play has been strong and his skill-set is somewhat unique in the top-nine.

But a personal negative is a team positive. Gagner’s return to top-nine form and strong play from Ryan Smyth give the Oilers the option to move a player out. Maybe that player is Arcobello, who at his current price-point might be attractive to a team in need of scoring. Maybe that player is Hemsky, long the subject of trade rumours, which would allow Arcobello to sub in on that line and take faceoffs for Gagner, too.

Regardless, the music has stopped and 10 people are trying to crowd into nine seats. Right now, Arcobello’s clearly the guy still looking for a place to land.

74b7cedc5d8bfbe88cf071309e98d2c3
Jonathan Willis is Managing Editor of the Nation Network. He also currently writes for the Edmonton Journal's Cult of Hockey, Grantland, and Hockey Prospectus. His work has appeared at theScore, ESPN and Puck Daddy. He was previously founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue. Contact him at jonathan (dot) willis (at) live (dot) ca.
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#101 Naky
November 22 2013, 04:16PM
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May I, for the five billionth time, point out that Gagner has a NTC this year and next They couldn't implement it contractually this year for whatever CBA reason, but it's a gentleman's agreement that they will uphold.

If he is moved this year, we as fans should not only be questioning the competence of this organization's management even further for conducting business in bad faith but also be furious at the potential repercussions doing this would have within the NHLPA in terms of UFA signings. We have a hard time already, let's not make it harder than it already is.

For better or worse, Gagner is here to stay and it is Arcobello who is on the outside looking in. Deal with it.

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#102 PapaMike
November 22 2013, 04:23PM
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Naky wrote:

May I, for the five billionth time, point out that Gagner has a NTC this year and next They couldn't implement it contractually this year for whatever CBA reason, but it's a gentleman's agreement that they will uphold.

If he is moved this year, we as fans should not only be questioning the competence of this organization's management even further for conducting business in bad faith but also be furious at the potential repercussions doing this would have within the NHLPA in terms of UFA signings. We have a hard time already, let's not make it harder than it already is.

For better or worse, Gagner is here to stay and it is Arcobello who is on the outside looking in. Deal with it.

It is my understanding that the NTC kicks in next year as he did not qualify due to something or other, age, contract, bad hair...so he can be traded this year. I have heard that MacT verbally said he would not trade him somewhere, do not know if that is true.

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#103 Dark Passenger
November 22 2013, 04:24PM
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Build a man a fire, and he'll be warm for a day. Set a man on fire, and he'll be warm for the rest of his life

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#104 Jordan Nugent-Hallkins
November 22 2013, 04:27PM
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@PapaMike

It's true, he said it was a gentleman's agreement. I think they should try Gags on the wing for an extended period. Hope he gets back to 100% soon.

Yak looks like he's activ- sorry, YAKtivating. He's found another gear the last few games.

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#105 Quicksilver ballet
November 22 2013, 04:28PM
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@Todd

Another fanboy worshipper, kneeling before his autographed framed Sam Gagner jersey......

take a hike, tool.

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#106 PapaMike
November 22 2013, 04:28PM
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Dark Passenger wrote:

Build a man a fire, and he'll be warm for a day. Set a man on fire, and he'll be warm for the rest of his life

mmmmmmmm BBQ

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#107 PapaMike
November 22 2013, 04:32PM
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Jordan Nugent-Hallkins wrote:

It's true, he said it was a gentleman's agreement. I think they should try Gags on the wing for an extended period. Hope he gets back to 100% soon.

Yak looks like he's activ- sorry, YAKtivating. He's found another gear the last few games.

Thanks for the info. Looks like here is here to stay for a while. I am okay with that too. I like Gags, and once he heals fully I hope he can find a lot of consistancy in his game.

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#108 PapaMike
November 22 2013, 04:36PM
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Quicksilver ballet wrote:

Another fanboy worshipper, kneeling before his autographed framed Sam Gagner jersey......

take a hike, tool.

I have MacT's autograph, gave it to my mom, she loved him back in the day...

But I agree with you here, tool seems to fit.

But I have had several beers already...

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#109 Spoils
November 22 2013, 04:37PM
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Jordan Nugent-Hallkins wrote:

It's true, he said it was a gentleman's agreement. I think they should try Gags on the wing for an extended period. Hope he gets back to 100% soon.

Yak looks like he's activ- sorry, YAKtivating. He's found another gear the last few games.

YAKtivating!!!! i like that. I feel like devoting the next hour to dreaming up more of those.

great YAKtion last game...

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#110 Quicksilver ballet
November 22 2013, 04:37PM
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Sam Gagner

11 games played. 1 goal and 4 assists, and -9 during this prolific offensive outburst. Piloted his team to a 4-7 record during his watch. One could argue there's more value writing off his salary on the IR another 3 weeks.

If Sam Gagner's the answer...

what was the question again?

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#111 Todd
November 22 2013, 04:40PM
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Quicksilver ballet wrote:

Another fanboy worshipper, kneeling before his autographed framed Sam Gagner jersey......

take a hike, tool.

Nope, I don't care much for Gagner. I'd be quite happy to trade him.

But Arcobello was considered an AHL smurf with zero chance of making the team 20 games ago. MacT was crucified for not rushing out and getting some C depth. This blog was filled ad nauseam with people saying the season was lost because we didn't have any depth up the middle.

Arco got 10pts in 10games. Since then he has done very little. I like the kid. I hope he gets a shot. I like his 2 way game. If he wasn't 2 years OLDER than Gagner with SEVEN years less NHL experience it wouldn't even be a debate on who is more value for their contract.

But sorry. Using a 20 game flash in the pan from an NHL callup as an excuse to 'finally trade away that loser Gagner' is stupid. Black and white stupid.

If the return on Gagner was good I'd be for it. But it would have nothing to do with Arco being around, and getting him to fill the gap left by gags would be at the least very wreckless.

I know you think you are very smart and know a lot about hockey. We get it. I mean you've probably racked up a few winning seasons on Xbox GM mode right?

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#112 Mac962
November 22 2013, 04:41PM
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I think most of us realize, regardless of the last 3 wins, which make me feel so much better, This team needs some change. I don't buy the comment's that we played weak teams. We are weak, but better than what we have shown. I tend to side on those in favor of keeping Gagner. He came back from this injury too soon to help the team. Yes he will never be that big center we need however, As much as i like Acro, Sam i think just brings a little more and always will. Does he not have a NMC or NTC ?

If we were just a bigger team in general we would have room for both, but we are small. I would take Acro over Acton 6 days a week though. Acton has not been terrible but Acro could fill that role with Big Wingers.

Nice- an entire weekend without the Oil playing ? Do you ever see the Leafs or Habs go an entire weekend without playing ?

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#113 Spoils
November 22 2013, 04:44PM
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OilCanFan wrote:

Why not try Arcobello on the 4th instead of Acton? It isn't like that line gets a ton of minutes anyways. I think he does pretty much everything Acton does but more effectively with an offensive upside and he probably throws what little weight he has more than Acton does too. Let Gazdic and Joensu be the "heavy".

Must have been typing my message at the same time as @oilfan in yyc

I think it should be Gordon on the fourth.

RNH- Hall- Ebs || Gags- Yak - Hemsky || Arco - Smyth - Perron || Gordon - Joensuu - Gazdic ||

with Gordon getting some extra shift to take key draws. He's 6ft 200lbs, he plays tough.

I'm not against the concept of a non-scoring line that plays heavy and can intimidate and police, but to me these are better lines that will have overall better outcomes.

still, you can't argue with wins.

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#114 Quicksilver ballet
November 22 2013, 04:50PM
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@Todd

Sam Gagner only had 20 games to his credit after 20 games played as well.

Todd, are you upset by Arcobellos success, despite his curb appeal?

Replacing Gags with him is a move in the right direction.....no?

even at this early time. Addition by subtraction.

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#115 Jordan Nugent-Hallkins
November 22 2013, 04:51PM
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@Spoils

I might switch Hemsky and Perron, but those lines look good to me.

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#116 Todd
November 22 2013, 05:03PM
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Quicksilver ballet wrote:

Sam Gagner only had 20 games to his credit after 20 games played as well.

Todd, are you upset by Arcobellos success, despite his curb appeal?

Replacing Gags with him is a move in the right direction.....no?

even at this early time. Addition by subtraction.

The prudent move, and IMO the right move is to wait and see. If Arco does it for an entire season, great. Like it or not, you know what Gagner is. You hate him, we get it. But there is no doubt in what he is. The Gagner debate is old. But the body of work is easily enough to know what you have from him.

But rushing out to replace proven NHL players with flash in the pan AHLers is at best wreckless.

BTW - when Sam Gagner was 20 games into his career he was 18. And nobody was talking about trading away 7 year vets because he was a sure bet.

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#117 Quicksilver ballet
November 22 2013, 05:07PM
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Naky wrote:

May I, for the five billionth time, point out that Gagner has a NTC this year and next They couldn't implement it contractually this year for whatever CBA reason, but it's a gentleman's agreement that they will uphold.

If he is moved this year, we as fans should not only be questioning the competence of this organization's management even further for conducting business in bad faith but also be furious at the potential repercussions doing this would have within the NHLPA in terms of UFA signings. We have a hard time already, let's not make it harder than it already is.

For better or worse, Gagner is here to stay and it is Arcobello who is on the outside looking in. Deal with it.

Shhhwing and a miss, again...

He does not have a binding no trade/movement clause for this year.

He may have a soft handshake agreement in a sport where a teams needs can turn on a dime/change direction at any time. If it ain't on paper, it's not a matter the NHLPA would have any concern about.

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#118 Quicksilver ballet
November 22 2013, 05:10PM
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@Todd

You are dead to me Todd [holds up open hand and looks away] agree to disagree.

Happy weekend sir.

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#119 Todd
November 22 2013, 05:22PM
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Quicksilver ballet wrote:

You are dead to me Todd [holds up open hand and looks away] agree to disagree.

Happy weekend sir.

A few definitions for you. Although I'm sure you already know them, since you know IT ALL. And I do mean IT ALL!

Windbag: an empty, voluble, pretentious talker with little interest to communicate.

Pretentious: having or showing the unpleasant quality of people who want to be regarded as more impressive, successful, or knowledgeable than they really are

Happy weekend sir.

*Well I'm off to hopefully watch the Panthers embarrass the Flames.

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#120 Bryzarro World
November 22 2013, 05:25PM
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Who runs the site? They blind? Ever look at their work? The contrast between this lame background and the page numbers is almost non existant.

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#121 K_Mart
November 22 2013, 05:44PM
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Todd wrote:

Nope, I don't care much for Gagner. I'd be quite happy to trade him.

But Arcobello was considered an AHL smurf with zero chance of making the team 20 games ago. MacT was crucified for not rushing out and getting some C depth. This blog was filled ad nauseam with people saying the season was lost because we didn't have any depth up the middle.

Arco got 10pts in 10games. Since then he has done very little. I like the kid. I hope he gets a shot. I like his 2 way game. If he wasn't 2 years OLDER than Gagner with SEVEN years less NHL experience it wouldn't even be a debate on who is more value for their contract.

But sorry. Using a 20 game flash in the pan from an NHL callup as an excuse to 'finally trade away that loser Gagner' is stupid. Black and white stupid.

If the return on Gagner was good I'd be for it. But it would have nothing to do with Arco being around, and getting him to fill the gap left by gags would be at the least very wreckless.

I know you think you are very smart and know a lot about hockey. We get it. I mean you've probably racked up a few winning seasons on Xbox GM mode right?

Agree completely. 20 games means very little, if not nothing.

Gagner has 6+ seasons under his belt and is pretty much a sure thing for 40+ pts.

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#122 Spydyr
November 22 2013, 05:47PM
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Just to put things in perspective Gagner had one point the last ten games last year a second assist at that.At a time when the playoffs were on the line Now he has one goal and and four assists this year.

He does not play well defensively he does not hit or intimidate he does not win face-offs.He does not win puck battles.

Still he gets articles like this one saying Gagner’s resurgence. Really he has one goal and five points in his last 21 games. This article makes him look like he is the greatest thing since sliced bread.I just don't get it.

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#123 David S
November 22 2013, 05:48PM
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Todd wrote:

Nope, I don't care much for Gagner. I'd be quite happy to trade him.

But Arcobello was considered an AHL smurf with zero chance of making the team 20 games ago. MacT was crucified for not rushing out and getting some C depth. This blog was filled ad nauseam with people saying the season was lost because we didn't have any depth up the middle.

Arco got 10pts in 10games. Since then he has done very little. I like the kid. I hope he gets a shot. I like his 2 way game. If he wasn't 2 years OLDER than Gagner with SEVEN years less NHL experience it wouldn't even be a debate on who is more value for their contract.

But sorry. Using a 20 game flash in the pan from an NHL callup as an excuse to 'finally trade away that loser Gagner' is stupid. Black and white stupid.

If the return on Gagner was good I'd be for it. But it would have nothing to do with Arco being around, and getting him to fill the gap left by gags would be at the least very wreckless.

I know you think you are very smart and know a lot about hockey. We get it. I mean you've probably racked up a few winning seasons on Xbox GM mode right?

Nice post Todd. Just one mistake...

TECHNICOLOR STUPID

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#124 K_Mart
November 22 2013, 05:51PM
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Ari Gold wrote:

Arcobello: great on the draw, plays positionally well, hits, goes to the tough areas of the ice, reasonable offensive ability for a 2C.

Gags: terrible on the draw, poor positionally, shys away from tough areas of the ice, good offensive ability for a 2C

Between the two, Arco is a better 2C on a rebuilding team. Neither is a great 2C on a playoff team.

I'd keep Arco because he does more. Gags is overpriced. Any return for him would be good in order to dump that contract. This rebuild has polluted his career.

Assessment of Arco based on 20 games. So not reliable.

Gags is/was slumping. History shows his faceoffs may never be good, but the rest of his game will be competitive at this level.

Arco is still a total flyer.20 games just isn't enough to make an accurate call,

Gags ain't great, but he's decent, while Arco is a mystery IMO.

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#125 David S
November 22 2013, 05:53PM
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Spydyr wrote:

Just to put things in perspective Gagner had one point the last ten games last year a second assist at that.At a time when the playoffs were on the line Now he has one goal and and four assists this year.

He does not play well defensively he does not hit or intimidate he does not win face-offs.He does not win puck battles.

Still he gets articles like this one saying Gagner’s resurgence. Really he has one goal and five points in his last 21 games. This article makes him look like he is the greatest thing since sliced bread.I just don't get it.

We were NEVER really in playoff contention last year. Krueger was running the boys at 110% and they inevitably burnt out. MacT was the first to admit it.

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#126 Spydyr
November 22 2013, 05:57PM
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David S wrote:

We were NEVER really in playoff contention last year. Krueger was running the boys at 110% and they inevitably burnt out. MacT was the first to admit it.

So when they beat Calgary to take over the last playoff spot.That never happened.Ok then.

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#127 DSF
November 22 2013, 05:58PM
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David S wrote:

We were NEVER really in playoff contention last year. Krueger was running the boys at 110% and they inevitably burnt out. MacT was the first to admit it.

NHL teams don't burn out by playing hard for 38 games when they didn't have to compete in the playoffs the previous season.

They just weren't very good.

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#128 Primo
November 22 2013, 06:02PM
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Congratulations on the 3 wins. You can start planning the parade. Now you can also start comparing yourselves to the elite teams like the Bruins, Hawks and Blues. After all you have been rebuilding now for some 8 years and were granted 3 overalls by the league for finishing in the sewer the last many years. Look out for the Oilers!! Signs of Life!

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#129 YFC Prez
November 22 2013, 06:19PM
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@Primo

1. read article

2. troll article

If you skip step 1 how can you properly troll this comments section......amateur!

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#130 Hockey Problems
November 22 2013, 06:32PM
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@Jeff In Lethbridge

Fool. Get back to the fLames site with that sissy mentality.

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#131 YFC Prez
November 22 2013, 06:32PM
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There's a whole lot of Gagner vs Arcobello talk lately. Before you compare these 2 players take a moment and remember Gagner's rookie year. It was very good, much better than Arco is showing now. If you want to compare Arco's rookie performance...compare it to gags. Small sample size on Arco vs Gagner's history....Gagner win.

Now the real question is who gets us the big top line forward we need. Last game Matthias and Upshall were Florida's best players....I want one of those or similar.

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#132 michael
November 22 2013, 06:33PM
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camdog wrote:

Fiddler was unhappy playing 4th line minutes in Dallas. Maybe there is more to this, but if he ain't happy playing 4th line minutes in Dallas I can't imagine he would be happy playing 4th line minutes in e-town.

Your right. Good point. I guess the question for V. Fiddler is what his expectations are? I don't think there is a GM out there willing to promise him 2cdd line minutes. His history is not such that he can play those kind of minutes. With Horcoff playing ahead of him in the 3rd line role Fiddler will definitely not be playing 3rd line minutes anytime soon.

Is there anyone out there who would be more effective in the 4th line role than Acton or Arcobello? I guess its a matter of time before MacT decides if Acton is the guy. Or Lander.

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#133 michael
November 22 2013, 06:33PM
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camdog wrote:

Fiddler was unhappy playing 4th line minutes in Dallas. Maybe there is more to this, but if he ain't happy playing 4th line minutes in Dallas I can't imagine he would be happy playing 4th line minutes in e-town.

Your right. Good point. I guess the question for V. Fiddler is what his expectations are? I don't think there is a GM out there willing to promise him 2cdd line minutes. His history is not such that he can play those kind of minutes. With Horcoff playing ahead of him in the 3rd line role Fiddler will definitely not be playing 3rd line minutes anytime soon.

Is there anyone out there who would be more effective in the 4th line role than Acton or Arcobello? I guess its a matter of time before MacT decides if Acton is the guy. Or Lander.

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#134 DSF
November 22 2013, 06:37PM
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YFC Prez wrote:

There's a whole lot of Gagner vs Arcobello talk lately. Before you compare these 2 players take a moment and remember Gagner's rookie year. It was very good, much better than Arco is showing now. If you want to compare Arco's rookie performance...compare it to gags. Small sample size on Arco vs Gagner's history....Gagner win.

Now the real question is who gets us the big top line forward we need. Last game Matthias and Upshall were Florida's best players....I want one of those or similar.

Exactly...debating the relative merits of two undersized, under performing centres when neither are adequate #2 NHL centres is a waste of oxygen.

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#135 Quicksilver ballet
November 22 2013, 06:38PM
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YFC Prez wrote:

1. read article

2. troll article

If you skip step 1 how can you properly troll this comments section......amateur!

One cannot deny his effort contains more facts than fiction. Our Oilers have been nothing but laughing stock for 5 yrs now.

Why not let truth have its day....

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#136 Jeff in Leth is a troll loser.
November 22 2013, 06:46PM
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@Jeff In Lethbridge

Pull your skirt down, your kitty's showing.

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#137 Ari Gold
November 22 2013, 06:51PM
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Neither Arco nor Gags are a great 2C option for a playoff team.

Arco is significantly cheaper while sacrificing some offence. He's still better on draws, plays better positionally and hits.

I'd grade Gags this year before his NTC kicks in.

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#138 Johnnydapunk
November 22 2013, 06:55PM
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Ari Gold wrote:

I still disagree.

My assertion about Gags is based on last year's performance, his best numbers (larger sample size and he was healthy). He may have produced more points but was obviously still a defensive liability.

Gags does not play big, Arco does. Gags is terrible on the draw, Arco is. Gags is terrible positionally, Arco is not.

The only thing Gags has on Arco is a better offensive ability. That's not enough for success in the playoffs as a 2C.

I'll stick to my original thesis. Arco is a more complete player & neither player is a great 2C in the playoffs. Imagine them playing Couture, Carter or Burgeron. Not even a contest. Keep Arco because he brings almost the same effectiveness for a 6th of the price.

Then we can politely agree to disagree as Arcobello has yet to prove himself over a full season and what numbers you put up in the AHL means little in the NHL, Justin Schultz is a good example of that.

Gagner's numbers weren't too bad last year, and like I mentioned before, this year is a difficult one to judge on as he has yet to fully heal.

As for his contract, it is not much higher or lower than any other player his age, experience and even point totals.

He put up better numbers than Jaime Benn, Cody Hodgson, Mikko Koivu and surprisingly Malkin last season with comparable +/- so I wouldn't call him a defensive liability either.

I don't really get how you can say that either player would be good or crap in the playoffs as neither have actually played in an NHL series, there is always a surprise in the playoffs and players that you least expect to light it up, catch fire (John Druce comes to mind)

In the end, whilst Arcobello has so far put up decent numbers, he has still only played 20 games and he may turn out alright, but I will reserve judgement until the season is done.

And further on comparing players in the playoffs, 2006 had proven that once you get in, anything can happen.

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#139 Stack Pad Save
November 22 2013, 07:04PM
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K_Mart wrote:

Assessment of Arco based on 20 games. So not reliable.

Gags is/was slumping. History shows his faceoffs may never be good, but the rest of his game will be competitive at this level.

Arco is still a total flyer.20 games just isn't enough to make an accurate call,

Gags ain't great, but he's decent, while Arco is a mystery IMO.

http://www.nhl.com/ice/player.htm?id=8474040

history tells us that Gagner is a career minus 57 ... you heard it -57. That is what history tells me. Yah Gagner is good offensively for stretches but it doesn't last. Plus his offensive side isn't good enough to make up for his weak play on the draw and on the defensive side of the game.

I do have to agree that we dont have enough evidence to remove Gagner and replace him with Arcobello. I want a bigger body personally with skill. I think Shawn Matthais off of Florida might be a good option IMNSHO

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#140 Johnnydapunk
November 22 2013, 07:41PM
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Stack Pad Save wrote:

http://www.nhl.com/ice/player.htm?id=8474040

history tells us that Gagner is a career minus 57 ... you heard it -57. That is what history tells me. Yah Gagner is good offensively for stretches but it doesn't last. Plus his offensive side isn't good enough to make up for his weak play on the draw and on the defensive side of the game.

I do have to agree that we dont have enough evidence to remove Gagner and replace him with Arcobello. I want a bigger body personally with skill. I think Shawn Matthais off of Florida might be a good option IMNSHO

That's a very awkward stat to use in the sense that you need to find players who have played for the Oilers at a similar time period to accurately compare. Using a very rough example, Horcoff who played for the Oil for a similar time was -44, Hemsky fared a bit better at -29

Saying all that Gagner's point totals were better than both whilst also making less.

As for Mattias, he has yet to break the 25 point barrier in his career and using the awkward as +/- rating, he is a career -22 on a team that is generally far better defensively than the Oil.

Looking at the +/- of a lot of players with the Oil over the years, everyone's was terrible, and it's less of an indication of an individual players defensive liabilities than a reflection of the teams crap defence which sadly the Oil have had for a while now.

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#141 camdog
November 22 2013, 07:43PM
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@Johnnydapunk

I always thought Gags best years were when he played with Penner. Penner wasn't physical, however he knew how to use his body to protect the puck and he was positionally strong. Like all of the Oilers they need to fit with each other. Gags with small wingers is not a fit.

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#142 Stack Pad Save
November 22 2013, 07:47PM
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Johnnydapunk wrote:

That's a very awkward stat to use in the sense that you need to find players who have played for the Oilers at a similar time period to accurately compare. Using a very rough example, Horcoff who played for the Oil for a similar time was -44, Hemsky fared a bit better at -29

Saying all that Gagner's point totals were better than both whilst also making less.

As for Mattias, he has yet to break the 25 point barrier in his career and using the awkward as +/- rating, he is a career -22 on a team that is generally far better defensively than the Oil.

Looking at the +/- of a lot of players with the Oil over the years, everyone's was terrible, and it's less of an indication of an individual players defensive liabilities than a reflection of the teams crap defence which sadly the Oil have had for a while now.

Well this stat and signals of light from when Gagner is on the ice that get sent to my brain, which get interpreted as pictures in my brain, which is than analyzed in my cerebral cortex helps me conclude that Gagner is not good defensively.

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#143 nina russo
November 22 2013, 07:58PM
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Boyd Gordon is the prototypical fourth-line centre. He works hard, plays heavy, can play the penalty kill, doesn't give up anything, and can actually produce on the offensive side of the ledger from that position. Arcobello is a great third-line option at centre -- he wins draws, isn't afraid to hit, makes the players around him better, can play a skill game or a simple game.

The real issue here is balance -- as nice as it is to have the first line powerplay be your top line (ie five forwards) it isn't practical 5v5 as there is a deficiency on defense there ... so naturally, why not take the top nine skilled players on the team and distribute them across the three lines.

No one else on the squad has any chemistry with Hemsky other than Taylor Hall, so why separate the two -- find them a centre; Nuge and Ebs have had amazing chemistry for three years, find them a left winger; Gags and Yak are showing actual chemistry together, so find them a left-wing that can compliment them and assist in their prevalent defensive short-comings.

Solutions -- three scoring lines regardless of who they skate against (play the line opposite the need of the other team's corresponding counter-part): Hall-Arcobello-Hemsky; Perron-Gagner-Yakupov; (Jones/Omark)-Nuge-Ebs.

The fourth-line can play more than five minutes a night if it has the right content: Joensuu-Gordon-(Jones/Smyth/Gazdik/Pitlick)

Four balanced, skilled and PRODUCTIVE lines, there the whole time, send the AHLers back and lets play NHL hockey for once.

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#144 SuntanOil
November 22 2013, 08:11PM
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Jeff In Lethbridge wrote:

two games in a row now, Ferrence has jumped and punched unwilling combatants, wgo didnt even have their gloves off when being punched.

Its nce that the guy wearing the "C" will do whatever it takes to wake up the rest of the powder puffs, but this could backfire.

it may, for instance, be an unsuspecting Oiler top six forward like RNH or Gange or Hall who gets grabbed and broken before he eveb gets his gloves off or discovers that he can't turn down the fight by means of punch to the chicklets when his gloves arent even off.

For instance, the exact kind of thing that happened to Gagner because Zack Kassian felt free to run around thinking he was safe from retribution?

I'll take my chances with the Ference way, thanks.

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#145 Johnnydapunk
November 22 2013, 08:14PM
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camdog wrote:

I always thought Gags best years were when he played with Penner. Penner wasn't physical, however he knew how to use his body to protect the puck and he was positionally strong. Like all of the Oilers they need to fit with each other. Gags with small wingers is not a fit.

I agree to that. Funny you say that as it seems Penners best years were playing with Gags ( which sounds completely wrong :-p ) as his highest point totals were then.

I think Gagner will be putting up some decent numbers as the Oil get better and find the balance they don't currently have.

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#146 Walter Sobchak
November 22 2013, 11:01PM
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DSF wrote:

Exactly...debating the relative merits of two undersized, under performing centres when neither are adequate #2 NHL centres is a waste of oxygen.

Depends doesn't it?

What if you can switch an Arcobelo for a Shore or a Matthias it's worth at the very least a discussion as to what Gagner or Arcobelo can give you for a return.

What if Gagner + insert random trading piece here brings you say Dubinsky? (It's an example)

I agree both players need to go if the Oilers are going to get better but it seems to me if the Oilers have half a brain that Gagner has to be considered an asset to trade with.

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#147 Oilersman
November 23 2013, 12:00AM
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Quicksilver ballet wrote:

Sam Gagner

11 games played. 1 goal and 4 assists, and -9 during this prolific offensive outburst. Piloted his team to a 4-7 record during his watch. One could argue there's more value writing off his salary on the IR another 3 weeks.

If Sam Gagner's the answer...

what was the question again?

I guess the question was, "what's your thoughts on Gagner?"

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#148 Saytalk
November 23 2013, 01:47AM
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It looks like Gagner is now healthy enough to not be a complete liability on the ice at even strength, but even at full health he's more of a liability than an asset. The question is, in his SEVENTH pro season, can he learn to cover his assignment in the defensive zone and actually make an effort to engage the opposing player either by stick-check or body-check? After six seasons, we're still waiting.

You could say that his primary job is to score, but he's never scored near enough to justify his abysmal defensive play. That $4.8M cap hit looks really high for what is essentially a powerplay specialist.

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#149 THRNHJE
November 23 2013, 08:10AM
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@Spoils

You could say Nail has been reYAKting well since the media controversy.

NAILED IT

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#150 gcw_rocks
November 23 2013, 08:24AM
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Gagner had proven over eight seasons he first have the defensive chops to play centre in the NHL. The Oilers have three choices with Gagner. One, move him to the wing where the defensive responsibility is lower, two, commit to permanently giving his line soft minutes and suffering when they are on the road, or three, trade him and find a more complete replacement. Status quo should not be an option.

Arcobello is the bridge should the Oilers go with option one or three.

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