WHAT ABOUT SAM?

Robin Brownlee
March 15 2013 06:01PM

I like Sam Gagner as a person and as a hockey player. I like his talent. I respect his competitive streak. I admire Gagner because his give-a-crap meter seems permanently pegged on high.

Now, in what's looking like a break-out year, I think the Edmonton Oilers would be nuts to trade Gagner unless they can get exactly what they want and need for him, but seeing as GM Steve Tambellini has yet to ask my opinion on the matter, might the Oilers consider moving No. 89 by the NHL's April 3 trade deadline?

Regardless of what I think, if Tambellini is doing his job – insert laugh track here – he'd be shirking his duties as Kevin Lowe's front-man if he didn't at least look around and see what the return might be and if he could move an asset like Gagner (or Ales Hemsky) along for parts this roster is missing.

While I'm not of the mind the Oilers should move Gagner along just because his value now is as high as it will ever be – the argument made by many fans, bloggers and hybrids of the two, alike – it's reasonable to think Gagner might fetch what the Oilers need, assuming Tambellini has identified what that is.

MOVE HIM?

If I was GM, I'd be reluctant to trade Gagner for several reasons. Yes, his value now, in his sixth season, is high, but if the former London Knight, who leads the Oilers in scoring with 10-15-25 in 26 games, is just rounding into the player he might be for the next decade or so, an organization has to consider the time and money it has already invested in him.

Second-line centres capable of scoring 55-65 points in a full season, which is the range Gagner has been pegged at for some time (a mark he looks more than capable of based on his production this season), aren't hanging around on every street corner waiting for NHL jobs.

And, as anybody paying attention has seen, Gagner is a competitive little cuss who isn't big on taking crap from anybody no matter how big they are. He's willing to get his nose dirty (and bent) to stand up for himself and teammates. Gagner competes. He gives you what he's got. He's a gamer. He hates to lose. A team can never have too much of that.

That said, a team can never have too many quality defensemen or too much depth in goal or too many robust forwards capable of bringing a physical element and playing top-six minutes. The Oilers could use bolstering in all three areas. Might moving Gagner provide Tambellini the opportunity to address those needs? Of course he might.

KEEP HIM?

If Gagner stays at or near the pace he's on now and finishes this shortened season with, say, 40 points, he's going to command substantially more than the $3.2 million he's getting now on a one-year deal as an RFA next summer. If I was Tambellini, I'd be looking at inking Gagner to a deal for three or four years in the range of $4.25 to $4.5 million a season.

I'd also be working the phones to see if there's a rowdy top-six forward with hands and wheels or a proven, young top-four defenseman or goaltender with pedigree available. And I'd be asking if Gagner might fetch me some of that.

If there is – the right player in the right position at the right money -- I'd pursue it. If there's not, I'd happily sit down with Gagner and his agent at the end of the season, if not before, and put my name to the kind of contract that makes it clear Gagner is part of the plan moving forward. In that scenario, I'd look at moving somebody else, likely Hemsky, to get what I need.

I wait with great anticipation to see what Tambellini does.

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.

Aceb4a1816f5fa09879a023b07d1a9b4
A sports writer since 1983, including stints at The Edmonton Journal and The Sun 1989-2007, I happily co-host the Jason Gregor Show on TSN 1260 twice a week and write when so inclined. Have the best damn lawn on the internet. Most important, I am Sam's dad. Follow me on Twitter at Robin_Brownlee. Or don't.
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#1 cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan
March 15 2013, 06:24PM
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Mac962 wrote:

Hemsky goes before Sam. He has got a bit of everything. Not a knock on Hemmer as he has come around to a degree. Sam to me just brings more of an all around game, Hemsky is....well Hemsky.

Hemsky for Shattenkirk and a 2nd and 3 rd.

do you at least buy doug armstrong dinner and drinks before you try and do him like that?

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#2 The Soup Fascist
March 15 2013, 07:32PM
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Walter Sobchak wrote:

As Brownlee mentions I like Sam too.

Here is the issue though.

While Sam has shown to be a good regular season 2nd line center his game is incomplete, he struggles at face-offs, he has trouble breaking the cycle in his zone, cheats for offense, and loses puck battles.

These things are paramount in the playoffs; in fact these things are what kill a team in the regular season.

The Oilers need a complete 2nd line elite center that can own both ends of the rink, with RNH inability to win a draw in the offensive zone but a more complete defensive player Gagner becomes expendable IMO.

Trade deadline.

I would expect Hemsky to move possible for a 3rd line player and a 1st. Hemsky and Gagner both have value, even more so at the trade deadline.

I would keep Gagner until the summer that’s when I would trade him and the required pieces to the Predators for Weber.

Moving forward the Oilers most pressing need is 3 centers one of which has to be elite. A number one defensemen and size in the bottom six.

The Oilers only have their upcoming draft pick, plus Hemsky and Gagner as viable assets.

Expect both to be moved.

Yes Gagner has been a weak playoff performer to date ....... Wait ........what?????

Can we have a moratorium on any trade for Weber, please. I would love to have him but more likely to see me at a "Beebs" concert than Weber in Oilers silks.

Yes. Even if we throw in the rights to Omark.

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#3 David S
March 16 2013, 01:09AM
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rpk99 wrote:

Ebs has been weak in 4 on 4 and shorthanded this year....and Gags is horrible defensively end of story. Detroit's commentary was that he was our "best player this year" just because he has the most points, I almost puked in my mouth... If someone would give us decent value for him, I would trade him in a heartbeat. Or move his ass to the wing. He has been in the league long enough if he can't win faceoffs he needs to get out of there.

Man. This place is turning into HF boards, where guys post comments on homework booze breaks during game nights.

"Horrible defensively" Gagner was 9/14, 64% tonight on FO's while also playing an elevated DEFENSIVE role on the PK. On top of which he scored a greasy goal (team-leading BTW) in tight where alot of bigger "grit" guys on our team won't go. You may also have missed how he's being acknowledged almost every game lately by both Krueger and TV color crews as having a much improved defensive game.

Sam certainly isn't perfect, but your description is just slightly off base. Might as well Red Bull up and get back to that math assignment.

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#4 SRELIOFAN
March 15 2013, 06:27PM
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I think what Robin meant to say was "to wait and see what Tambellini DOESN'T"

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#5 Citizen David
March 15 2013, 06:59PM
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Been one of my favorite players since his first game. If this team ever gets around to winning a cup in the future I hope Gagner's on it after having to go through so much losing. He needs to be a pillar in this team. 23 years old, we've put all this work into him and he's not even yet in his prime. No way should we trade him.

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#6 westcoastoil
March 15 2013, 07:04PM
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Unless your "robust" player coming back is a centre potting 55-65 points it's crazy to deal him. You'd be filling one hole and creating another that is harder to fill. I'd say there's a decent laundry list of teams that would be happy to take Gagner off the Oil's hands.

Move a winger (ideally with a prospect to reduce the 50 man roster limit and a pick if necessary) to upgrade the D position. Do that and let the kids up front keep rolling. Pajaarvi is going to easily add 15 lbs. and if Harti can turn the corner size suddenly isn't an issue.

If you're determined to move a centre - Horcoff's contract actually becomes an advantage after this year to teams who need to add cap$ but not real dollars.

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#7 westcoastoil
March 15 2013, 07:06PM
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Rolling Gagner and the Nuge as 1/2 down the middle is going to look pretty sweet starting maybe as soon as 2013/14

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#9 Suntory Hanzo
March 15 2013, 06:06PM
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Keep Gags! Otherwise my jersey is obsolete!

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#10 oilerjed
March 15 2013, 06:06PM
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You aren't the fist to love Sam's game. The man is all heart

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#11 westcoastoil
March 15 2013, 07:32PM
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@Walter Sobchak

"The Oilers need a complete 2nd line elite center that can own both ends of the rink"...um don't 25 of the teams in the NHL need this?

There aren't so many out there that it's easy to just go trade for 1. And if your a team with an elite 2nd line centre why on god's green earth would you deal him (Mr. Holmgren will now answer...)

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#13 The Soup Fascist
March 15 2013, 07:50PM
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Walter Sobchak wrote:

No, we cant have a moratorium on deals for Weber, do you honestly think the Predators can afford him? I don't, I'll put money on he gets dealt a day after UFA season starts.

As for Gagner, I like him but he will get eaten alive in the playoffs as our number two center.

Gagner alone wont get you Weber so read more careful next time.

Gagner-Petry-Hartikainen plus 2014 1st will.

So, unless you didn't watch last years playoffs or even this years Pitt vs Flyers games, you can go ahead and keep thinking Gagner is the Man.

I'll wager you Gagner is not on the Oiler's roster next year.

Deal with it.

And our second line centre is ...........

I know. Details. Details.

I laugh how you question Gagner's playoff prowess when he has not played a single postseason game. - but you are not a hater. Right. Your feigned "liking" of Gagner is clear. You don't like the guy. No problem - that is your choice. But in all your rhetoric I have not heard a viable upgrade - that can be had at a reasonable price.

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#14 Taylor Gang
March 15 2013, 09:48PM
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Why trade Gagner? He IS gritty, he fights! He hits! And on top of that, he's good.

Logic of Oilers fans, trade a player scoring at a ppg pace. This isn't a fluke! Gagner is genuinely skilled! Why trade a player with that much skill!

Don't shop him but if a team gives us a deal we can't refuse, ie) Jamie Benn, Milan Lucic, Shea Weber, then listen. But for the time being, keep him. He's winning games for us!

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#15 Bryan in SK
March 16 2013, 07:04AM
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In today's trade world, we'd be lucky to get full value back. I think Sam is exactly the return we need for Sam. Keep him an Oiler, and let's move on.

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#16 Citizen David
March 16 2013, 09:30AM
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Last season Sam was plus 5, this season so far he's only minus -3. In his last 5 games he's even which includes a 3-0 loss and a 6-0 loss. David Staples wrote today that in his last 14 games he's created 4 scoring chances per game and been the cause of only 1.6 scoring chances against per game. He's the same size as Crosby, Datsyuk, and Mike Richards. He has the fire in him, and now his offense is ramping up. He's not even in his prime yet. But he's closer to it than Hall, Eberle, Nugent-Hopkins and Yakupov. Each year his face-off percentage has improved. At the end of Feb. he was sitting at 50% recently he has struggled but last game was 64%. Gagner should be with this team all the way through.

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#17 Neal
March 16 2013, 10:13AM
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People tend to forget that Sam is only 23. He was rushed into the the NHL from junior in 2007, prematurely, and in my opinion this mis-handling of the asset stretched out his learning curve. Any by the way, THIS is when the Oilers "rebuild" started! Anyway, Sam is just coming into his prime. I get the "sell high" thing, but there's also the "grass is greener" thing. Players with that much fight in them aren't that easy to come by. If there's something out there that makes us better, then fine, make the trade - but I will say there's several more priorities (like 83)to deal away first.

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#18 CdnMaDCoW
March 15 2013, 06:23PM
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Missed it by That muchh. Keep Gagner. That kids got heart and hopefully it can rub off on more of em.

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#19 striatic
March 15 2013, 06:55PM
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Mac962 wrote:

Hemsky goes before Sam. He has got a bit of everything. Not a knock on Hemmer as he has come around to a degree. Sam to me just brings more of an all around game, Hemsky is....well Hemsky.

Hemsky for Shattenkirk and a 2nd and 3 rd.

agreed.

makes much more sense to trade Hemsky at this point than it does to trade Gagner.

Hemsky is great and i loved signing him last year, but trading him now would bring very good value back using a player in the position where Edmonton is arguably strongest [as of the Yakupov pick].

Hemsky for a D, and sign Sam using the freed space.

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#20 EHH Team
March 15 2013, 07:28PM
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striatic wrote:

Gagner has been tried at wing before, with very limited success.

Ok, ok, ok .. with zero success.

I think it was in 2007-2008 that Gagner, Cogliano & Nilson had a great second half, with Cogliano often playing centre.

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#21 Time Travelling Sean
March 15 2013, 07:36PM
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@Walter Sobchak

I don't want Weber. He is good now, but when he is 32 and still has 10 years left he won't be as good. Players get their big contract and enjoy the sunset, like Heatley, Lecavlier, and others.

Players that play a physical, demanding game like Weber also wear out a lot more. I don't want him, I don't want his 8M contract, and the fact that you have to give up huge chunks just to get him makes me want him even less.

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#22 Serious Gord
March 15 2013, 07:56PM
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Gagner is a very good player, but we have a huge surplus of his type.

And we have yawning deficits in several other areas.

Trade him. Trade him now.

I wish him all the best wherever he winds up.

But who are we kidding. KL&T aren't making any substantive moves - a border line third liner perhaps, but hemsky and gagner will still be in oiler silks this time next year and the team will still in the bottom third of the league.

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#23 The Soup Fascist
March 15 2013, 08:55PM
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So we go to war next year with a 20 year old and 18 year old as our 1 / 2 centres? Think about that for a minute.

If you are upset because you think we are being owned now - you would be standing in line with DiPietro buying a rope and stool at the hardware next year, Wes. Nobody wants that.

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#24 LoweBlow
March 15 2013, 10:14PM
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@Walter Sobchak

Weber ain't going anywhere. I'll bet u 5 bucks!

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#25 James
March 15 2013, 10:41PM
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@2004Z06

Doubtful, since there are many people on the team who have been on the ice for more goals against than him. Whitney was coasting on that goal and left his defense partner out to dry, even the sportsnet crew commented on it. Say what you want about his defensive game, the coaching staff disagrees with you and he's become one of the main penalty killers on a very good PK unit. He can't suck that bad if he's one of our top four PK guys and our PK is rated so well.

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#26 Eulers
March 16 2013, 10:46AM
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Yes, because we have SO much strength at center!!

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#27 Smokey
March 15 2013, 06:19PM
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If he could ever figure out the faceoff dot, there would be little point trading him. I think he should play wing personally. He's played their before and been successful in a top six role.

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#28 Mac962
March 15 2013, 06:20PM
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Hemsky goes before Sam. He has got a bit of everything. Not a knock on Hemmer as he has come around to a degree. Sam to me just brings more of an all around game, Hemsky is....well Hemsky.

Hemsky for Shattenkirk and a 2nd and 3 rd.

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#29 Rama Lama
March 15 2013, 06:20PM
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I love Sam for all the reasons mentioned in the article, plus he is a very humble and down to earth person.........as far as I can tell.

I think that trading him would be very risky, but value does fetch value. On that basis Tamby would be foolish not to listen to offers on this quality player. If a team was offering a top pick and a roster player, give the strength of the draft a wise man would weigh his options.

As a fan I for one would want to keep him, ( because I love his fight) until we know exactly what we have in Sam Gagner.

As a pretend GM I would keep my options open.

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#30 StHenriOilBomb
March 15 2013, 06:22PM
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ahh faceoffs. his biggest weakness. Hopefully he gets better as the years go by, but he hasn't shown much improvement so far.

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#31 StHenriOilBomb
March 15 2013, 06:30PM
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This week has totally stumped me with Horc.

Check out Yakupov's comments about him here: http://video.oilers.nhl.com/videocenter/ "Pre-Game Raw - Nail Yakupov"

Can the Oilers afford Nuge, Horc and Sam-wise? I assumed it would be Horc holding the short straw, but could that be changing?

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#32 Rama Lama
March 15 2013, 06:49PM
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StHenriOilBomb wrote:

This week has totally stumped me with Horc.

Check out Yakupov's comments about him here: http://video.oilers.nhl.com/videocenter/ "Pre-Game Raw - Nail Yakupov"

Can the Oilers afford Nuge, Horc and Sam-wise? I assumed it would be Horc holding the short straw, but could that be changing?

There is no doubt that Horcoff has some skills at least on the face-off dot. All the praise he is currently receiving is more circumstance than actual skill displayed by this player.

Okay he did score two goals and I maintain that ANY hockey player with even minor skill could have score the first goal assisted by RNH. On the second goal he got lucky because the defence man fell. Most plays that Horcoff tries usually fail due to his general lack of skill.

I will admit that he is currently a good fourth line/third line option.

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#33 Toro
March 15 2013, 06:50PM
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I love Gags not saying trade him but if we did would a Gagner for Chris Stewart be a fair deal?

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#34 EHH Team
March 15 2013, 06:57PM
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Because of Gagner's compete level, I would rather trade Hemsky + for a second line centre and move Gagner to the wing.

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#35 striatic
March 15 2013, 06:57PM
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Toro wrote:

I love Gags not saying trade him but if we did would a Gagner for Chris Stewart be a fair deal?

Stewart isn't a C, so Gagner for Stewart would leave the Oilers weak down the middle and overstocked at RW [Eberle, Hemsky, Yakupov, Stewart]

You'd have to pair such a trade with moving Hemsky for a C.

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#36 striatic
March 15 2013, 06:58PM
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EHH Team wrote:

Because of Gagner's compete level, I would rather trade Hemsky + for a second line centre and move Gagner to the wing.

Gagner has been tried at wing before, with very limited success.

Ok, ok, ok .. with zero success.

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#37 Walter Sobchak
March 15 2013, 07:23PM
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As Brownlee mentions I like Sam too.

Here is the issue though.

While Sam has shown to be a good regular season 2nd line center his game is incomplete, he struggles at face-offs, he has trouble breaking the cycle in his zone, cheats for offense, and loses puck battles.

These things are paramount in the playoffs; in fact these things are what kill a team in the regular season.

The Oilers need a complete 2nd line elite center that can own both ends of the rink, with RNH inability to win a draw in the offensive zone but a more complete defensive player Gagner becomes expendable IMO.

Trade deadline.

I would expect Hemsky to move possible for a 3rd line player and a 1st. Hemsky and Gagner both have value, even more so at the trade deadline.

I would keep Gagner until the summer that’s when I would trade him and the required pieces to the Predators for Weber.

Moving forward the Oilers most pressing need is 3 centers one of which has to be elite. A number one defensemen and size in the bottom six.

The Oilers only have their upcoming draft pick, plus Hemsky and Gagner as viable assets.

Expect both to be moved.

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#38 Walter Sobchak
March 15 2013, 07:40PM
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The Soup Fascist wrote:

Yes Gagner has been a weak playoff performer to date ....... Wait ........what?????

Can we have a moratorium on any trade for Weber, please. I would love to have him but more likely to see me at a "Beebs" concert than Weber in Oilers silks.

Yes. Even if we throw in the rights to Omark.

No, we cant have a moratorium on deals for Weber, do you honestly think the Predators can afford him? I don't, I'll put money on he gets dealt a day after UFA season starts.

As for Gagner, I like him but he will get eaten alive in the playoffs as our number two center.

Gagner alone wont get you Weber so read more careful next time.

Gagner-Petry-Hartikainen plus 2014 1st will.

So, unless you didn't watch last years playoffs or even this years Pitt vs Flyers games, you can go ahead and keep thinking Gagner is the Man.

I'll wager you Gagner is not on the Oiler's roster next year.

Deal with it.

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#39 Thinker
March 15 2013, 07:41PM
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Don't trade him unless something better is coming back.

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#41 Walter Sobchak
March 15 2013, 07:44PM
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Time Travelling Sean wrote:

I don't want Weber. He is good now, but when he is 32 and still has 10 years left he won't be as good. Players get their big contract and enjoy the sunset, like Heatley, Lecavlier, and others.

Players that play a physical, demanding game like Weber also wear out a lot more. I don't want him, I don't want his 8M contract, and the fact that you have to give up huge chunks just to get him makes me want him even less.

Sean.

I think Weber's game is where the Oiler's want to go, that's why it makes sense to me that they will go hard at him.

I think playing with J. Schultz maybe just what Weber needs, he can back off and not have to do it all.

You have to pay to get these guys, no way around it.

Take off Whitney money, Hemsky plus Gagner that's a savings of about 13- 15 million.

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#42 Walter Sobchak
March 15 2013, 07:45PM
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westcoastoil wrote:

"The Oilers need a complete 2nd line elite center that can own both ends of the rink"...um don't 25 of the teams in the NHL need this?

There aren't so many out there that it's easy to just go trade for 1. And if your a team with an elite 2nd line centre why on god's green earth would you deal him (Mr. Holmgren will now answer...)

Its called the draft and the Oiler's will be getting a good one, or did you not get the memo?

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#43 StHenriOilBomb
March 15 2013, 08:00PM
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Rama Lama wrote:

There is no doubt that Horcoff has some skills at least on the face-off dot. All the praise he is currently receiving is more circumstance than actual skill displayed by this player.

Okay he did score two goals and I maintain that ANY hockey player with even minor skill could have score the first goal assisted by RNH. On the second goal he got lucky because the defence man fell. Most plays that Horcoff tries usually fail due to his general lack of skill.

I will admit that he is currently a good fourth line/third line option.

Did you listen to Yak's comments? It's not the skill I'd be worried to lose. Skilled players produce with him on their line, even if he doesn't. I know it's only 2 games, and possibly just circumstance, but seems to me there may be more to his influence than some of us admit.

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#44 Kevin
March 15 2013, 08:16PM
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With Tambo's history so far and not moving player at their highest trade value. I would suspect he will do nothing. Case in point both Souray and Hemsky could have been moved. I'm betting on the GM he has been vs the GM he needs to be to address the teams needs. Still to soft, can't win faceoffs, holes on defence and uncertainty in goal. Results, another lottery pick team.

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#45 @Oilanderp
March 15 2013, 08:29PM
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I love Gags. Still, I'm not opposed to moving ANY player on this team. It all depends on what's coming back doesn't it? If someone wants to overpay for Gagner, fine... bye. If not, then I am glad he will be an Oiler for the upcoming dynasty. 23 years old, 6th overall pick, 5 years experience ALREADY.

Actually on second thought let's trade him for a guy who can't score but is uhhh big.

Wait no let's trade him for a 6th overall pick!

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#46 Walter Sobchak
March 15 2013, 08:44PM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

I assume the Oilers will have to pay the players they acquire to fill spots vacated by Whitney, Gagner and Hemsky.

You can't just subtract the outgoing without budgeting for the incoming and you aren't going to get players to fill the spots of a second-line center and winger for spare change.

Yes Robin they do, but not at the inflated prices they currently pay, or the alternative would be cap trouble.

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#47 Walter Sobchak
March 15 2013, 08:49PM
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The Soup Fascist wrote:

And our second line centre is ...........

I know. Details. Details.

I laugh how you question Gagner's playoff prowess when he has not played a single postseason game. - but you are not a hater. Right. Your feigned "liking" of Gagner is clear. You don't like the guy. No problem - that is your choice. But in all your rhetoric I have not heard a viable upgrade - that can be had at a reasonable price.

Soup

would suggesting a draft pick to fill that roll?

Impossible? what if that draft pick where to have the same season as a RNH did right out of the gate?

would that just be crazy talk?

Would a Brayden Schenn type player be so crazy?

I don't need to see Gagner in the playoffs to know that it wont work.

For the record, I'm not a hater, I'm a realist. I really do like Gagner, but he's going to be worth more to us getting the pieces the Oiler's need, I'm sorry you cant see that.

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#48 Walter Sobchak
March 15 2013, 08:57PM
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The Soup Fascist wrote:

So we go to war next year with a 20 year old and 18 year old as our 1 / 2 centres? Think about that for a minute.

If you are upset because you think we are being owned now - you would be standing in line with DiPietro buying a rope and stool at the hardware next year, Wes. Nobody wants that.

What kind of a comment is that?

You want to debate fine, but that was completely uncalled for.

For the record, it didn't hurt Chicago and Pittsburgh did it.

Done with you.

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#49 The Soup Fascist
March 15 2013, 09:05PM
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@Walter Sobchak

Yes because Crosby and Malkin are a realistic duo to compare RNH and whoever to. Sorry if my attempt at humour upset you Wes but honestly if you think a McKinnon is going to compete as a 2c in the NHL when he can't play 4th line at the Wjhc we are light years apart anyway.

Ps. Just at the game watching that slug Gagner score another one.

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#50 2004Z06
March 15 2013, 10:25PM
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Man the officiating is awful tonight!

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