CONFUSION

Lowetide
April 09 2013 09:04PM

The Edmonton Oilers and GM Steve Tambellini have boxed themselves in with Sam Gagner's summer contract. Content to sign him to a 1-year deal, the young center has delivered impressive boxcars and will cost a pretty penny--and he's eligible for free agency just around the corner. Steve Tambellini is faced with buying free agent seasons at a premium, or trading 89.

SHOULD THEY SIGN HIM?

Taken from pretty much every angle, Sam Gagner's offensive numbers are good:

  • Overall: 39, 14-21-35 (2nd on Oilers)
  • Even: 39, 10-9-19 (tied-2nd on Oilers)
  • PP: 39, 39, 4-10-14 (tied-1st on Oilers)
  • PK: 39, 0-2-2 (tied-1st on Oilers)

Gagner's 35 points have him tied for 24th in the entire NHL, and if we were looking at a full season the youngster would be on pace for a 70-point season. He's also a player the coach counts on based on TOI:

  • EV: 14:37 per game (4th among Oiler forwards)
  • PP: 2:50 per game (4th among Oiler forwards)
  • PK: 1:45 per game (5th among Oiler forwards)

So, based on those totals I think it's safe to suggest that Gagner is a pure "2nd line" forward on a healthy Oilers club, at least based on the way Ralph Krueger is using him this season. Fair?

CONSISTENCY!

When the Oilers signed Gagner to a mere one-year deal, there was a lot of chatter about consistency. Gagner has been an Oiler for a long time now--this is his sixth season--and all of the years before had at least one item that hurt his report card. Last season, he went a long period without impacting the offense as an example (Gagner went 19, 4-3-7 to close out the season after a brilliant 13, 9-9-18 February). This season, the offense has been consistent:

  • January: 7, 3-5-8
  • February: 12, 3-8-11
  • March: 15, 7-5-12
  • April: 5, 1-3-4

On the way to what would be his career season if it rolled out over 82 games.

THEN WHAT'S THE PROBLEM? 

Well, it's like this: coach Ralph Krueger appears to be trying to get Samwise offensive opportunities with the third and fourth (roughly) best wingers on the team, and 89 and those wingers simply CAN NOT do one damn thing with it in terms of outshooting the opposition and outchancing the other guy 5x5 with death on the line.

Any way you look at this, Gagner centers a line that borders on tragedy. The most confusing part? The WOWY numbers tell us that during zone-adjusted zone start/close situations Gagner-Hemsky isn't working. This is a duo one would expect to flourish against the softer parade. Why isn't it working?

  • maybe it's the rookie (Yakupov) or the young winger (Paajarvi) having a hard time.
  • maybe it's the Hemsky injury

Or, maybe it is as Tyler Dellow described today in a brilliant item over at his site. Tyler's conclusion--it's on management to answer for and figure out this mess (beyond the 1line) is the most important item.

And with Gagner's contract up--and a signficant increase in pay likely--this is very important right bloody now.

WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?

There's been much clamoring about Sam Gagner's lack of size being a major issue for the Oilers. I don't think that's a huge deal--we all remember how useful size looked when JF Jacques and Ryan Stone joined the skilled guys--but this season long slump by the 2line may be something Sam Gagner does not survive. Samwise will enter the summer expecting a big raise and a long term deal, and could find himself in a new city as early as draft day. 

On the other hand, his coach considers him the 4th best option among forwards, and he's having his finest offensive season.

Confused? Me too.

C2a6955161684b5e3189319acfa5ebe4
Lowetide has been one of the Oilogosphere's shining lights for over a century. You can check him out here at OilersNation and at lowetide.ca. He is also the host of Lowdown with Lowetide weekday mornings 10-noon on TSN 1260.
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#1 Tracy
April 09 2013, 09:17PM
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Tambellini won't be around to trade him, might get a blast from the past to get the Oilers out of this mess, a Messiah.

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#2 a lg dubl dubl
April 09 2013, 09:21PM
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If Dithers decides not to resign Gagner and trade him at the draft then he has to be able to get a 2nd line center that can put up at least 50 points to replace him, and Id be shocked to see ST pull an actual "hockey trade" like that.

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#3 a lg dubl dubl
April 09 2013, 09:23PM
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@Tracy

Isnt this "messiah" still tied to the Rangers? it would be cool if that happened though.

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#4 Mark-LW
April 09 2013, 09:24PM
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#FireAllOilersExecs

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#5 The Oilers Shot Clock
April 09 2013, 09:29PM
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I think Sam's season is a blessing. There are much more options now available. His value is high. The only situation we lose is if we sign him to an over inflated contract.... Oh my god. I just saddened myself.

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#6 Jordan
April 09 2013, 09:30PM
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LT,

"There must be some kind of way out of here,"

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#7 The Oilers Shot Clock
April 09 2013, 09:32PM
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What's he worth anyways? Such a tough one. 4.5 ? I suspect 5 is what he asks. Is that too much? I think so.

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#8 DSF
April 09 2013, 09:33PM
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The Oilers will sign Gagner to a 3 year $5M/Yr contract.

They will then have 3 of the 4 $5M players in the entire NHL who have never scored 25 goals in a season.

Death by paper cut.

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#10 Dawn
April 09 2013, 09:38PM
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Well I understand if they see him as an asset to move. But if he leaves town without another centre available to take his place, let's just write off this rebuild and start a new one cause this team is going nowhere without depth at centre. And we're already 1 injury away from Smyth as 4th line centre...

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#11 Klima's Mullet
April 09 2013, 09:44PM
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DSF wrote:

The Oilers will sign Gagner to a 3 year $5M/Yr contract.

They will then have 3 of the 4 $5M players in the entire NHL who have never scored 25 goals in a season.

Death by paper cut.

it took me about 20 seconds to prove your BS post wrong by looking at Zdeno Chara's and Shea Weber's stats

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#12 DSF
April 09 2013, 09:48PM
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Dawn wrote:

Well I understand if they see him as an asset to move. But if he leaves town without another centre available to take his place, let's just write off this rebuild and start a new one cause this team is going nowhere without depth at centre. And we're already 1 injury away from Smyth as 4th line centre...

And, yet, Mike Gillis can acquire Derek Roy to play 3rd line centre for the Canucks and not bat an eyelash.

Considering the Oilers have been drafting in the top 10 forever, why don't they have the assets to acquire a player like Roy (cap hit $4M) to replace Gagner?

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#13 DSF
April 09 2013, 09:48PM
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Klima's Mullet wrote:

it took me about 20 seconds to prove your BS post wrong by looking at Zdeno Chara's and Shea Weber's stats

Try forwards,sir.

LOL.

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#14 RyanCoke
April 09 2013, 09:58PM
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4×4 would be where I would slot him. I dont know about these oilers. We need so much to be a contender. Tambellini needs to be replaced by someone who knows how to build a team.

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#15 Klima's Mullet
April 09 2013, 10:00PM
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@DSF

So what does 14 G in 39 GP extrapolate to in 82 GP? Gagner is on pace for essentially a 30 goal season.

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#16 Oil Bog
April 09 2013, 10:00PM
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I would like to see the Oil put together a package of players, say Gagner and Hemsky for Seguin. Likely not enough but if for some reason Boston doesn't see him long term as a centre perhaps something can be done. I like Gagner but I have yet to see him "own" the situation in tough games that mean something. When Hall is rolling he controls situations but there is not many times when Gagner grabs the puck I think something great is going to happen.

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#17 Alsker
April 09 2013, 10:01PM
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So either we sign gags and find him a winger(or2)that can retrieve the puck, break the oppositions cycle in our zone, and pass him the puck or we need to find a center to play with 83,64,or91, or both. Wonderful, at least mgt. cant sit on their hands(rotate on their thumbs) and do nothing. Still wonder with Buf selling everything off at the deadline why we didnt go after Ott, seeing as we wouldnt be hashing this out now if they had.

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#18 David S
April 09 2013, 10:08PM
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DSF wrote:

And, yet, Mike Gillis can acquire Derek Roy to play 3rd line centre for the Canucks and not bat an eyelash.

Considering the Oilers have been drafting in the top 10 forever, why don't they have the assets to acquire a player like Roy (cap hit $4M) to replace Gagner?

Given that Roy is 29 and on the back side of his career versus Gagner being 23 and juuust coming into the prime of his career, that extra $.5M would seem to be better spent on Gagner, no?

http://www.hockeydb.com/ihdb/stats/pdisplay.php?pid=50145

On top of which, if Gagner doesn't score another point this year, he's already working on a 30 goal/60pts per 82 game season. What the heck more do you want?

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#19 Jimmer
April 09 2013, 10:10PM
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@Lowetide

Would a team like Colorado look at Gagner plus a prospect or a bottom 6 roster player in exchange for Ryan O'Reilly?

Clearly Colorado does not want to pay him in the 5.5-6.0M range long term. That seems like a fit...or am I off my rocker?

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#20 Oiler Al
April 09 2013, 10:12PM
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DSF wrote:

And, yet, Mike Gillis can acquire Derek Roy to play 3rd line centre for the Canucks and not bat an eyelash.

Considering the Oilers have been drafting in the top 10 forever, why don't they have the assets to acquire a player like Roy (cap hit $4M) to replace Gagner?

Roy is a rental ! They had to come up with something just in case " glass boy Kessler", wasn't coming back, after trading Hudgson for hammer head Kassian.

Next year if they dont dump Luongo's contract they won,t be able to afford either.

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#21 DSF
April 09 2013, 10:14PM
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Oiler Al wrote:

Roy is a rental ! They had to come up with something just in case " glass boy Kessler", wasn't coming back, after trading Hudgson for hammer head Kassian.

Next year if they dont dump Luongo's contract they won,t be able to afford either.

And, if my Auntie had balls, she would be my uncle.

Vancouver will move Luongo and buy out Ballard and life will go on.

And Vancouver will have the best centre depth in the league.

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#22 vetinari
April 09 2013, 10:14PM
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Jordan wrote:

LT,

"There must be some kind of way out of here,"

"Said the joker to the thief..."

;)

Prefer Jimi's version to Bob's

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#23 David S
April 09 2013, 10:19PM
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Hemsky is death to Gagner. Always has been. Don't know why. This has been compounded by his being hurt far longer than we probably know. Buddy is on fire for a game and invisible for half a dozen.

Although he's chaotic while learning on the job (alot of people forget this), Yakupov with Gagner has shown moments of brilliance. The betting man would keep Gagner/Yak together for the balance of the year and find a suitable third that'll work with them for next year.

Even though he's shown marked improvement, PRV is far better suited to a 3rd line checking/secondary scoring role. Would Harti/Lander/PRV work? They too showed promise, but as we often do here in Oilers land they were broken up as soon as they showed promise.

Then you go with any of Smyth/Horcoff/face puncher/face puncher sub on the fourth and/or flush the crap out of the system and find a decent 4th liner.

Jones and/or Hemsky help you fill that second line gap.

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#24 Klima's Mullet
April 09 2013, 10:20PM
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@DSF

By having three centers on the decline in their careers...please. They won't even have the best center depth in their own division.

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#25 DSF
April 09 2013, 10:22PM
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David S wrote:

Given that Roy is 29 and on the back side of his career versus Gagner being 23 and juuust coming into the prime of his career, that extra $.5M would seem to be better spent on Gagner, no?

http://www.hockeydb.com/ihdb/stats/pdisplay.php?pid=50145

On top of which, if Gagner doesn't score another point this year, he's already working on a 30 goal/60pts per 82 game season. What the heck more do you want?

No.

No it wouldn't.

As LT has pointed out, Gagner is getting killed by soft competition.

Gagner had an 8 point game...doesn't mean he's a 656 point player.

Also worth noting:

GFON/60 - 2.54

GAON/60 - 3.20

Just be way of comparison, Toronto also has a young centre named Nazem Kadri.

GFON/60 - 4.17

GAON/60 - 2.09

Can you spot the difference?

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#26 Fifthcartel
April 09 2013, 10:26PM
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DSF,

I know it's 'on pace', but he is on pace for 29 goals in a full 82 game season but it does totally remain to be seen if he could sustain this play.

Either way, I don't support a $5m contract, and I think Gags will want to cash in and they'll just end up trading him.

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#27 DSF
April 09 2013, 10:27PM
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Klima's Mullet wrote:

By having three centers on the decline in their careers...please. They won't even have the best center depth in their own division.

You mean like Horcoff (34) and Belanger (35)?

Obviously Minnesota has the best centre depth going forward but I didn't know we were talking about 5 years from now.

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#28 Stealthwise
April 09 2013, 10:28PM
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Hey DSF,

Krejci Ryan O'Reilly Mikko Koivu

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#29 DonDon
April 09 2013, 10:28PM
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As Robert Burns stated in not exactly these words: The best laid schemes of mice and men often go astray and leave us nought but grief and pain for promised joy.

Sounds like the work of KLowe and Tambellini. How much grief and pain for promised joy do the Oiler fans need to endure as a result of their body of work? The difficult situation the club finds itself in regarding Gagner is only one of many screwups. Can anyone trust them to improve this team by filling the obvious holes while ably managing its assets, placing it strategically within the salary cap and the limited number of contracts?

For the last three seasons we at least had exciting last place hockey and could look forward to being winners in the lottery. This season the club will probably miss the first 10 picks and continue the unproductive and disappointing rebuild.

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#30 DSF
April 09 2013, 10:33PM
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@Fifthcartel

I like to look at seasons in 10 game segments.

In his last 10 games, Gagner has scored 2 goals.

We've seen this movie before.

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#31 David S
April 09 2013, 10:34PM
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DSF wrote:

No.

No it wouldn't.

As LT has pointed out, Gagner is getting killed by soft competition.

Gagner had an 8 point game...doesn't mean he's a 656 point player.

Also worth noting:

GFON/60 - 2.54

GAON/60 - 3.20

Just be way of comparison, Toronto also has a young centre named Nazem Kadri.

GFON/60 - 4.17

GAON/60 - 2.09

Can you spot the difference?

You'd probably have something there if hockey was an individual sport. Curious. Who's Kadri playing with?

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#32 DSF
April 09 2013, 10:38PM
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Stealthwise wrote:

Hey DSF,

Krejci Ryan O'Reilly Mikko Koivu

Yep.

Koivu was the 4th of the 4 and I didn't account for Krejci's new contract or O'Reilly's ridiculous deal.

Doesn't mean the Oilers should repeat those mistakes.

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#34 DSF
April 09 2013, 10:42PM
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David S wrote:

You'd probably have something there if hockey was an individual sport. Curious. Who's Kadri playing with?

Results. Matter.

Kadri plays mostly with Kulemin and Grabovksi.

Are you suggesting they are better than Hemsky and Yakupov?

Good grief.

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#35 Dog Train
April 09 2013, 10:42PM
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Unless a suitable replacement for the second line becomes available, I don't see him being moved.

Sammy is a hard player to figure. If he was on the wing, I don't think that too many people would have much of a problem with him. We have more depth on the wing to be able to afford a move there if you ask me.

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#36 DSF
April 09 2013, 10:42PM
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Lowetide wrote:

Hahahaha. Oh my God. That's a beauty, DSF. Even for you, that's some world class wobbly.

Want to watch him go in the tank?

He will.

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#37 Supernova
April 09 2013, 10:49PM
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DSF,

Trying to understand if you are Canucks fan or an oilers fan upset with management.

I agree with some of what you say but don't understand the fascination with the Canucks.

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#38 David S
April 09 2013, 11:01PM
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DSF wrote:

Results. Matter.

Kadri plays mostly with Kulemin and Grabovksi.

Are you suggesting they are better than Hemsky and Yakupov?

Good grief.

I'm suggesting Toronto has found two players who compliment Kadri very well. As I've mentioned above, Hemsky sewers Gagner (albeit I don't know why specifically). Yakupov is pure chaos and PRV is still learning the North American game.

Gagner and Yakupov WILL work, given time I believe. But they still need a complimentary third. Harti perhaps or an import.

I know the theory is pairs, but the reason Hall/RNH/Eberle work is because they each compliment the other so well. Our second line is askew. Guys better at hockey analysis might suggest why, but all I know is that's the problem.

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#39 DSF
April 09 2013, 11:02PM
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Supernova wrote:

DSF,

Trying to understand if you are Canucks fan or an oilers fan upset with management.

I agree with some of what you say but don't understand the fascination with the Canucks.

Was an Oilers fan until Lowe proved everything Burke said about him was true.

Currently a Free Agent Fan ® who appreciates smart GM's.

Gillis is one of them but hardly the only one.

I'm a big fan of Lombardi, Fletcher and Chiarelli and that new guy in Montreal looks like he know what he's doing.

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#40 DSF
April 09 2013, 11:06PM
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David S wrote:

I'm suggesting Toronto has found two players who compliment Kadri very well. As I've mentioned above, Hemsky sewers Gagner (albeit I don't know why specifically). Yakupov is pure chaos and PRV is still learning the North American game.

Gagner and Yakupov WILL work, given time I believe. But they still need a complimentary third. Harti perhaps or an import.

I know the theory is pairs, but the reason Hall/RNH/Eberle work is because they each compliment the other so well. Our second line is askew. Guys better at hockey analysis might suggest why, but all I know is that's the problem.

Phhhttt...the problem is Gagner.

He can't play D worth a lick and cheats for offense.

Yakupov won't help because he doesn't have a clue about where his own zone is but he isn't in his 6th year in the league either.

Kadri was sent to the AHL twice because he didn't have the chops to play D in the NHL and he learned his lessons well.

Not only is he outscoring Gagner but he is also +19 while Gagner is -6.

RESULTS. MATTER.

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#41 Flynn
April 09 2013, 11:10PM
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Dithers isn't confused on this one at all! 6x6!

I Hope I'm wrong

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#42 Slats
April 09 2013, 11:11PM
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Supernova wrote:

DSF,

Trying to understand if you are Canucks fan or an oilers fan upset with management.

I agree with some of what you say but don't understand the fascination with the Canucks.

Im trying to figure out if he was that guy sitting next to me in my unversity stats class who was doing it for the 4th time

or

If he is the bad example that the the editors of "Stats for Dummies" use a consistent reference

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#43 Dangilitis
April 09 2013, 11:25PM
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DSF wrote:

Try forwards,sir.

LOL.

Hmmm.... St Louis has just 9 goals this season. Are his 40 assists not useful? If you look at comparable contracts between 4.5 and 5.5 million, Gagner's offensive production as of this season would put him near the top of the pack. The more important issue, then, becomes whether you think he will repeat these numbers. This is the most important question, which I don't have an answer for, but surely your statement suggests you have put a mouse click's worth of thought into it, because track records are not always the best gauge of how a player will do (e.g. your "ever scored more than 25 goals in a season theory") - so, by your completely flawed logic, we should earmark 5+ million a season for Penner because he has scored 32 goals in a season? I will quote you on this one, "LOL." I will even disagree with your assertion that Gagner will not have scored 25 goals in a season because he is clearly on pace to crack that this year, and it is not his fault that this season was shorter. Further, you are clearly biased in your negativity towards the Oilers if you are choosing to laugh about the 3 players who have 5 million and less than 25 goals in a season. One is Hemsky, who is a highly talented player who most people would not really claim is a highly overpaid player. Certainly nowhere even remotely close to the worst contracts in the NHL. Second in Horcoff, which is the inexcusable albatross (but at least we will get him off the books soon, before the other contracts need to be filled). And third could be Gagner, who, again, may be full value for 5 million over 4 years if he puts it all together. You certainly cannot prove otherwise. There are many bad contracts out there on various teams (defensemen included); I could point to a few on every team. So please stop spouting crap and purporting to be an expert on bad contracts based on flawed data. But the final point, which you may agree with, is that the Oilers would be able to afford 5 million for a good 2nd line center if they weren't paying 5.5 for their 3rd line center...

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#44 Supernova
April 09 2013, 11:25PM
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Slats wrote:

Im trying to figure out if he was that guy sitting next to me in my unversity stats class who was doing it for the 4th time

or

If he is the bad example that the the editors of "Stats for Dummies" use a consistent reference

Maybe he thought 4 for 4 was a good thing.

He does have a point on some items I just can't understand why the example is the Canucks and Gillis.

He inherited a better team than Lowe and to date has done no more with it than Lowe. ( division champs mean nothing)

I am not even a Lowe defender but I can't get behind his argument when I GM like Lombardi built his team and then made ballsy trades and went out an won the cup, and is position better for years to come.

I actually think if DSF substituted LA for Van and Lombardi for Gillis, it would be reasonable.

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#45 Newj
April 09 2013, 11:26PM
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Gagner is an RFA come July. Imagining that maybe others may be interested in his services, then am I correct to conclude that the compensation the Oilers would receive for Gagner is a 2nd round pick? That compensation is based on his current salary.

Magnus Paajarvi is in same boat this July and would capture a 3rd pick based on his current salary.

This isnt discussed much, on the otherhand maybe Im not reading the newly revised RFA compensation rules correctly.

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#46 David S
April 09 2013, 11:48PM
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Newj wrote:

Gagner is an RFA come July. Imagining that maybe others may be interested in his services, then am I correct to conclude that the compensation the Oilers would receive for Gagner is a 2nd round pick? That compensation is based on his current salary.

Magnus Paajarvi is in same boat this July and would capture a 3rd pick based on his current salary.

This isnt discussed much, on the otherhand maybe Im not reading the newly revised RFA compensation rules correctly.

AWESOME! MORE PICKS! Because...OILERS!

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#47 DoubleJ
April 09 2013, 11:50PM
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Does Hemsky play good with anyone? Seriously? Hemsky is talented, but any time he does something "wow" it's usually some act by himself. He doesn't play with others. You can see it on Gagners face when Hemsky puts the team offside every other shift with the extra move.

Until Hemsky understands how to play a system no one will understand how to play with him. He does what ever he wants. And it's usually on the fly.

I don't remember Hemsky making other players better in the last five seasons.

I can't wait until we trade gagner, and keep Hemsky. Facepalm.

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#48 madjam
April 09 2013, 11:54PM
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We are still not a good team, as even Columbus has caught up to us. Offer him a short term with 10% raise . Time to use assets for upsizing if his demands are not reasonable for our situation . Is he a clutch player for us down the line ? There is the criticism of his defence and lack of faceoff prowess , not to mention he gets pushed around by bigger clubs like a majority of our offensive players . What about raises for other emerging youth such as Hopkins, Yakupov and Schultz if we overpay him on a long term basis ?

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#49 Walter Sobchak
April 09 2013, 11:57PM
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I can't for he life of me figure what the obsession is with Gagner?

Have the Oilers improved with this guy on the team?

If points were just the only measurement of a hockey player then I would agree thats exactly what the Oilers need.

However, it's not. He is brutal defensively, he's brutal in the face off circle, he's bad in his own zone getting the puck back,

He IS small and SIZE does matter, Playing with size and skill would still get Gagner slammed on his ass, he can't push the play the right way.

He got leaned on the last three games and he couldn't do squat.

I wouldn't waste 5 million on Frodo

Sell high and get something meaningful in return.

Draft another center.

Enough of team shire

Avatar
#50 David S
April 09 2013, 11:58PM
Trash it!
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Cheers
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DSF wrote:

Phhhttt...the problem is Gagner.

He can't play D worth a lick and cheats for offense.

Yakupov won't help because he doesn't have a clue about where his own zone is but he isn't in his 6th year in the league either.

Kadri was sent to the AHL twice because he didn't have the chops to play D in the NHL and he learned his lessons well.

Not only is he outscoring Gagner but he is also +19 while Gagner is -6.

RESULTS. MATTER.

How is a guy that can't play D worth a lick becoming one of our best PK'ers?

And like I said before, those +/- stats have ALOT to do with who you're playing with. That includes your D pairing too. Gagner spends a crapload of time in his own zone because his D partners use "around the glass and out" as the standard pass-out. 5 minutes of game tape will get any team prepared for that slick move (as we've seen over and over again this year - teams waiting just inside the blue line for that juicy "out").

Bottom line - you get rid of Gagner you better be bringing back someone who can generate at least as much scoring potential, directly or indirectly or we lose our shirts on that trade. And no, a high prospect doesn't get it done. It has to be an actual sure-thing NHL'er.

My feeling is our weak D is what's hampering our second line more than any other one thing. If Gagner is "cheating for offense" it's because he's overcompensating for extremely weak outbound puck movement.

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