Can the Edmonton Oilers afford to trade Sam Gagner? Can they afford not to?

Jonathan Willis
March 18 2014 10:13AM

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There is no more controversial player in Edmonton than Sam Gagner. The payoff for the difficult 2006-07 season, the still-young forward was supposed to be a primary piece for the Oilers to build around at centre. Instead, nearly 500 games into his NHL career, he continues to struggle.

What should Edmonton do with him?

The Case for Moving

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The argument for moving Gagner is that he isn’t a two-way hockey player.

Scoring isn’t really Gagner’s problem. He hasn’t lit the world on fire but he’s been posting very respectable second-line point totals since day one. On a team with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, that’s good enough (or should be eventually), even if it isn’t what the Oilers had in mind when they picked him sixth overall.

Gagner isn’t big, but that isn’t really a primary problem either. History is full of teams that have won Stanley Cups with centres roughly the size of Nugent-Hopkins and Gagner (fun fact for the ‘every team needs size down the middle!’ people: of the 10 centres to play on the Cup winners from Detroit (2008) and Boston (2011), not even one of them was listed at over 200 pounds). There are plenty of ways to win hockey games, and having a bunch of 6’4” guys who can play pivot is one of them, but not the only one.

What every Stanley Cup winner has in common is good players. And while Gagner is certainly an NHL player, it’s fair to wonder if he’s really the guy a team wants in the No. 2 pivot slot. Chicago won with Martin Hanzal (edit: Michal Handzus) there last season, but very few teams can insulate their No. 2 centre with Jonathan Toews in the No. 1 role and people like Patrick Kane and Patrick Sharp and Marian Hossa on the wings.

Watch Gagner on this goal against from Edmonton’s last game in Carolina:

Justin Schultz grabs the puck at the blue line and jumps up ice. Gagner’s in the middle of the zone, behind the pinching Schultz and his two wingers, and sees it all happen. At about the two second mark, he’s at the far left of the screen about halfway up, watching a battle on the side boards. There’s a Carolina player just above and to the right of him. A good centre knows that, knows that Schultz (smartly) pinched, and covers for the defenceman. Gagner wanders past the Hurricanes forward and suddenly there’s a two-on-one, and eventually a goal against.

Every player makes mistakes, and thus any player can be made to look terrible on video. But from what I’ve seen, this is a mistake typical of Gagner. He doesn’t have the defensive commitment a centre needs. He cheats for offence.

The Case Against Moving

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The argument against moving Gagner is equally simple. It’s a stupid idea from an asset management perspective to trade players during low ebbs in value.

The following are Gagner’s totals (projected over 82 games) for the last five seasons:

Season  G A PTS +/-
2009-10 18 31 49 -10
2010-11 18 33 51 -21
2011-12 20 31 51 5
2012-13 24 41 65 -10
2013-14 10  36 46 -31

Gagner is at a low ebb in goal-scoring, a low ebb in point-scoring and a particularly low ebb in plus/minus. I think that in this case the basic statistics reflect reality. He started the year injured, he came back and was brutal, and while he’s improved a little bit lately he simply hasn’t been the Gagner of past seasons.

If the Oilers had traded Gagner two years ago, they likely would have had a better return. Ditto for last season. This year? We’re talking about the Oilers retaining salary and getting back Kyle Clifford.

Bad NHL teams typically bleed talent. One of the reasons is because bad teams generally have managers who make bad decisions, but there’s more to it than that. Bad teams are under more pressure than good teams to move players in off years, because they need everyone performing at a top level just to get within visual range of respectability. Bad teams tend not to have a support system, so when the bottom falls out on a player it really falls out.

Moving Gagner right now will see the Oilers get a 50 cents on the dollar return.

What Should Edmonton Do?

Craig MacTavish10

We are in a situation where the team has competing interests. It needs to get better in the No. 2 centre slot, which means trading Gagner away. But it also needs to get full value (or as close to it as possible) to improve the roster, which means retaining Gagner.

There are all kinds of real world problems here (is Gagner pushing for a trade, which free agents will consider Edmonton, what does the trade market look like) but in theory I think there’s an obvious two-step best course here:

  • 1. Add a replacement for Gagner to the roster.
  • 2. Keep Gagner until his trade value rebounds.

Let’s call Gagner’s replacement “Brandon Dubinsky” (we’re picking on Columbus here because they have Ryan Johansen and Boone Jenner and Artem Anisimov and because virtually any of their four good centres would be a nice fit for the Oilers – but the general idea is just to add a player-type, not a specific player). If the Oilers add “Dubinsky” in the off-season without off-loading Gagner, they could start next year by putting him at centre on the third line and bumping Boyd Gordon down into the role of fourth-line defensive specialist (it’s the role Manny Malhotra played in Vancouver).

That puts Nugent-Hopkins’ line in the power-vs.-power role, the “Dubinsky” line in a secondary tough minutes role, the Gordon line in a defensive zone role, and leaves all kinds of soft minutes for the Gagner line. In that situation, it’s pretty conceivable that Gagner recovers offensively and his trade value increases dramatically, at which point Edmonton’s free to deal him for something else and bump “Dubinsky” into a more offensive role.

As we said, there are real-world considerations that might make this scenario an impossibility. But if possible, I think it’s the best route forward for Edmonton.

RECENTLY BY JONATHAN WILLIS

74b7cedc5d8bfbe88cf071309e98d2c3
Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, the Edmonton Journal and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
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#51 A-Mc
March 18 2014, 12:20PM
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TKB2677 wrote:

Question:

If you resign Smyth like Willis talked about in a different article. If you don't trade Yakupov because he's still young, it's unknown how good he could be but the main reason being his trade value is too low because he isn't playing well to get what people think is "fair value". If you don't trade Gagner even if it looks as though at 24 yrs old and 7 seasons in, Gagner is what he is and his holes in his game are probably not going away. Plus he isn't the long term solution at the 2nd line center position but like Yakupov, because his trade value is low due to poor play, you probably won't get what people think is "fair value".

In order to be a better team for next season, they need more size and better 2 way play in their top 6.

Clearly you can't get rid of Hall because he is hands down their best player.

You can't get rid of Nuge because they already lack depth at center and he is their best center especially offensively.

I would say they can't get rid of Perron because he's their top goal scorer right now plus he's one of the few top 6 guys that plays with any real, consistent bite.

Eberle right now is their best right winger by a mile and will be in my opinion the better all around player. Yak might score a few more goals in his career buy Eberle will be a better all around player because he has way better hockey sense.

So if you keep all of the above for the reasons I stated and you keep Gagner and Yakupov who are 2 top 6 players for any team but you don't want to trade them right now because their trade value is "too low". If the Oilers do all of that, how will they be better any better next season?

It certainly doesnt look like there's much room there!

Given the tight situation, assuming gagner has little value, MacT should probably remain fully focused on improving the defense.

If there are little to no forward changes, An improved D core will help the team considerably i think.

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#52 freelancer
March 18 2014, 12:36PM
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@A-Mc

At this point I think the last thing Yak needs is to go down to a league he will dominate in. Remember last season during the lockout when Ebs Hall and Nuge played in OKC. Lots of people, including Krueger I believe saying how they developed some bad habits down there.

Yak has shown this season to be an incredibly effective player when he is engaged, it's consistency he lacks. Can't look to shelter him anymore.

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#53 A-Mc
March 18 2014, 12:36PM
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Smokey wrote:

Better idea, can the largely ineffective coach responsible for implimenting a system where many have been unsuccessful.

But the supporters would say, no we want continuity. To which I say continuity of what?

Yaks problems aren't a result of coaching. He wasn't very effective for 80% of last season as well.

It doesnt take a talent scout to see that yak needs work. i dont think there's anything wrong with sending him down to OKC to get top line minutes and to play in all situations, while still working on his defensive game (where he's allowed to make mistakes and can be supported better than up with the NHL club).

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#54 GoCanadaGo
March 18 2014, 12:44PM
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Can we find out what Robyn Brownlee thinks about Gagner?

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#55 Ed in Edmonton
March 18 2014, 01:10PM
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** wrote:

If the Oilers followed JW's recommendations, Dubnyk would still be on net, Hemsky would still be here, Khabibulin would have been resigned, Horcoff would still be here, and nothing would ever change, because the team would still be terrible and no one would increase their value. Hell eve Jason Strudwick would probably be here still.

JW like most in the Edmonton media quickly get man crushes on most in copper and blue.

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#56 oilerjed
March 18 2014, 01:35PM
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@Jonathon Willis

"That puts Nugent-Hopkins’ line in the power-vs.-power role"

RNH has shown this year that he isnt ready for this role and fact is he may not be. Dont you feel that getting worked over on a bi-nightly basis would be bad development for Nuge? Would trying to land Statsny fill a void of 1Ca and Nuge 1Cb for a year two.

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#57 KSC10032
March 18 2014, 02:04PM
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While often over-stated in terms of degree, most of the pluses and minuses @ Gagner's attributes as an NHL hockey player have been clearly identified and dissected on this site. At the 500ish game mark, he is what he is.

To me, one of the issues that blunts Sam's effectiveness is that he is a smurf who is -- almost exclusively -- forced to play with two other smurfs on his line. (I know Sam is listed at 200 lbs, but, c'mon).

I wonder just how much more effective he would be with a couple of 200+ lbs linear, tough wingers, with decent ability, who'd give Gagner the space and time he needs to maximize his strengths in terms of passing and puckhandling. Perhaps this is one of the reasons MacTavish pushed so hard for Clarkson.

It might be easier to find decent 2nd line wingers than the idealized second centre this sites readers seem so obsessed with.

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#58 TigerUnderGlass
March 18 2014, 02:17PM
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** wrote:

Dang it boy!! where did I write Yakimov was the answer? I just wrote it would be interesting to see him in camp. I didn't even write he would make the team. Get a grip boy, get a grip. Also, you are writing about a 28 yr old man already molded vs a 19 yo boy who is just starting. You're an idiot, and I say that with all my heart.

That's rich.

The guy making some of the grossest mischaracterizations I have ever seen saying, "where did I write that?"

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#59 Tikkanese
March 18 2014, 02:37PM
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** wrote:

Dang it boy!! where did I write Yakimov was the answer? I just wrote it would be interesting to see him in camp. I didn't even write he would make the team. Get a grip boy, get a grip. Also, you are writing about a 28 yr old man already molded vs a 19 yo boy who is just starting. You're an idiot, and I say that with all my heart.

When you reply to the article titled "Can the Edmonton Oilers afford to trade Sam Gagner? Can they afford not to?", then yes you are saying Yakimov is the answer.

Also name calling will not help your cause.

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#60 Lochenzo
March 18 2014, 02:49PM
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Maybe Sam Gagner wouldn't feel like he has to cheat for offence if the team wasn't struggling for offence.

Defence is learnable, no matter how old you are. The key is the buy in - commitment and dedication. Brett Hull did it later in his career. So I think it's a mistake to say that Sam Gagner is a lost cause in the defensive zone.

Now, having said that, I'm open to trading Sam, but MacT better cover the bases, acquiring either a #2 centre or a top 2 Dman for Sam Gagner or having this trade involving another Oiler asset in his pocket before moving Sam Gagner for something else.

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#61 TKB2677
March 18 2014, 03:14PM
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Here's a question.

When a player is going well, how many of you are chopping at the bit to trade them? Seriously?

Case in point. When Gagner had the 8 point night, the Oilers should of traded him the next day. His value would of been sky high? How many of you would of lost it if the Oilers did that?

Gagner was clueless when he came into the league defensively and in his 7th season, he's still clueless. Blame coaches all you want, after 7 seasons, he should be a hell of a lot better defensively than he is. So most of his problems are on him.

Gagner was been terrible at faceoffs ever since he came into the league. He was 41.8% in his rookie year and after 7 seasons, he's at 45.9%. That's an improvement by a lousy 4%

Gagner ever since he came into the league has been a mediocre offensive center. In his rookie year, he scored 13 goals and 49 pts. In 7 seasons, his career high is 18 goals and he has never matched his point total. If you do the math, his average is 15 goals and 44 points. So a lousy 2 more goals from his rookie year.

But we all sat back and waited for him to develop. As each year went by, we blamed the players around him, the coach, the system and mostly his age. "He's still young".

So when was the right time to trade Gagner? Before it wasn't the right time because he was too young, still developing. Now it's not the right time because his value is too low in peoples opinion.

Will there ever be a time?

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#62 TigerUnderGlass
March 18 2014, 03:23PM
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** wrote:

So troll it is.

More accurately, I am in the process of pointing out a troll to everyone else.

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#63 A-Mc
March 18 2014, 04:12PM
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This thread went down the pisser.. and fast.

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#64 Cold Hard Truth
March 18 2014, 05:17PM
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Craig MacTavish on Gagner, 2013:

"Sam has really developed into a leader here… he’s a guy that’s really developed into the type of character we want and that’s going to be important when I’m making the decisions, is that we have the type of culture in that room."

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#65 Tuningout
March 18 2014, 10:40AM
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Trade Gagner. Odds are no good free agent center will sign here. And I love placing 18 year old kids (probably Drasaitl) into positions on the Oilers they can't possibly succeed in like second line center duties. No problem. Maybe if they package Gagner and Yakupov they can get Torontos first rounder this year, retaining salary of course.

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#66 VK63
March 18 2014, 10:42AM
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Jordan Nugent-Hallkins wrote:

After this Gagner situation, I have a feeling the Oilers will take a centre at the draft. Probably ze German, if he's still there.

I'm gonna go watch ze German vs the Sutter steeds tonight. Should be an awesome tilt… or that is my hope. :))

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#67 They're $hittie
March 18 2014, 11:03AM
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@TKB2677

So you base how you rate players based on size? Thats good to know.

As for Hockey DB that site lists the weight of the player at his first year pro. Gagner confirmed his weight of 201 on the radio.

As for Draisatl Im not calling him a bust, I have a bad feeling about him. Again this is another player being called lazy and uncommited. Sounds a lot like Grigorenko. As for putting up points. Good for him. Still no where near what Gagner did in 2006, and he did not turn out as planned.

To pikc LD over better players Reinhart and Bennett because his is taller is the stupidiest thing we could do.

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#68 Woogie63
March 18 2014, 11:43AM
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@Jonathan Willis

Is getting Myers out of Buffalo possible with Gagner and another part.

Added benefit is you could make that trade right now and settle both teams for the draft.

ie Buffalo takes Ekblad

And Oilers take one of the Centers

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#69 fasteddy
March 18 2014, 12:06PM
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They're $hittie wrote:

Why are people so hard for Draisaitl. Ya he is big and talented, but I just got a bad feeling that says bust. I still think if we go with a center it has to be one of the sams. Pick the best player not the biggest.

Totally agree. I'm certainly no expert, but watching him a couple times I was not impressed. Reinhart on the other hand looks fantastic to my eyes; so intelligent and virtually always makes the right play.

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#70 Dave
March 18 2014, 12:18PM
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** wrote:

So the suggestion here, based on current ice time, is to send out the fourth line for the lion's share of defensive zone starts just so Gagner can score maybe 10 more points. Am I the only one seeing a problem with that?.

Gagner is on pace to score just about 5 points below the average he's scored in all his career, so from the point production point of view I don't see his value diminishing that dramatically, and I don't see it improving that dramatically next season with sheltered minutes.

Move him in the summer, maybe in a package. HE would never bring a top d man or a legit second line center back by himself at any point anyways.

Can we hire you to be G.M?

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#71 **
March 18 2014, 12:31PM
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Bucknuck wrote:

Or they could have just signed Arcobello to a one way contract. I've seen enough to think he's an upgrade defesively on Gagner and with decent wingers (and playing Centre) his production would be similar to Gagners.

No trade needed, and they could concentrate on getting a defender, which is what the team needs most.

Arco might not be a long term solution (read "probably not") but hes a cheaper and better option that Gagner.

Gagner came back too soon from injury because he felt steps on his roof. With Arcobello playing so well, he started making some people look bad. With the unexplained love lust this organization has for Gagner, they couldn't let that happen, so he came back and sucked the big one at the expense of Arcobello's superior play.

I agree with JW when he says size isn't everything, Arcobello on a second line in San Jose for example would be dynamite. THe problem with the Oilers is not that they don't have big centers, but that their centers are not good enough (I still think Nuge will get there) and that, although size isn't everything, it is important to have in the mix(size with skill, not a Joenssu), and the Oilers top six completely lack in that department. (this is specially true in the Oilers division with the California teams leading the charge).

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#72 **
March 18 2014, 12:33PM
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A-Mc wrote:

The Yak fan club is going to hate this, but why not send Yak to OKC, Move Gagner to wing, and fill Center with either Lander/Arco/UFA/DraftedCenterman.

By and large, Yakupov has been relatively ineffective in the NHL this season. He is in a state of transition and i think he could develop his game faster down in OKC.

This is a perfect example of shuffling the chairs on the Titanic.

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#73 Spoils
March 18 2014, 12:36PM
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I sincerely hope the Oiler Mgt is reading this article.

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#74 Ed in Edmonton
March 18 2014, 12:43PM
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A-Mc wrote:

The Yak fan club is going to hate this, but why not send Yak to OKC, Move Gagner to wing, and fill Center with either Lander/Arco/UFA/DraftedCenterman.

By and large, Yakupov has been relatively ineffective in the NHL this season. He is in a state of transition and i think he could develop his game faster down in OKC.

I think it is quite obvious to all unbiased observers that Yak should not have played in the NHL this year. A year to develop a more full range of skills in the AHL could have only helped. Development of Arcabello, Marincin and maybe Ladner and Klefblom all suggest a year or 2 or 3 in the AHL can be beneficial.

Unfortunately I think Yak has now played in more than 100 NHL games and would need to clear waivers. An opportunity lost.

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#76 TigerUnderGlass
March 18 2014, 02:36PM
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@**

No special memory required.

If the Oilers followed JW's recommendations, Dubnyk would still be on net, Hemsky would still be here, Khabibulin would have been resigned, Horcoff would still be here, and nothing would ever change, because the team would still be terrible and no one would increase their value. Hell eve Jason Strudwick would probably be here still.

What?

I never liked Clarkson, and I am the one you're replying to. And you giving credence to the people running a team 8 years out of the playoffs, hmmm.... I know you can make a better argument than that. I can assure you Mac. T. is praying hail marys every night thanking the heavens Clarkson didn't sign here. Pretty much what you are predicting for Hendricks is what is happening to Clarkson right now. IF you are talking about khabibulin then I'm confused as to what your point is.

Again. WHAT?

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#77 Curcro
March 18 2014, 02:46PM
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** wrote:

Well there is talk of Bogdan Yakimov coming over this summer. He's Yakupov's homie, plays center, is a massive human being at 6'5, 210 pounds and did some scoring on depth minutes in the KHL this season (7 goals and 12 points in 33 games). It would be interesting to see him at training camp.

On a side note, keeping with JW's awful recommendations, he suggested to trade for David Clarkson back in December:

http://blogs.edmontonjournal.com/2013/12/14/should-the-edmonton-oilers-trade-for-toronto-maple-leafs-forward-david-clarkson/

These are Clarkson's numbers so far: 47 games, 4 goals, 6 assists, 10 points, plus/minus -7, $5,250,000 cap hit until 2020.

So, there's that.

You don't get the concept of buying low do you? Is Clarkson as bad as his numbers suggest? Historically his number indicate that he normally produces at twice the rate.

What is different this year?

Zone Starts, Clarkson is used in the defensive zone faceoffs more than any other Leaf except McClement. So he has to skate further on every shift to get a scoring opportunity (see Boyd Gordon).

Next Clarkson is seeing allot less Powerplay time in Toronto versus when he was in New Jersey.

Finally, who he is playing with in Jersey, he played with Henrique and Zajac mostly. In Toronto he has had much less consistent linemates, and worse ones in Raymond and McClement.

So depending on how a team would use him, there would be the potential to get more value from his contract. That being said is it worth $5.25M?? Probably not, but buying low perhaps you can get the team to retain salary.

I think you are very stupid to say Willis doesn't know anything about hockey because he ASKED a question about whether or not Clarkson would be a good pick up.

Personally I'd rather get my hockey information from Willis than you.

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#78 TigerUnderGlass
March 18 2014, 03:22PM
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@**

I don't think you understand any concept. Buying low means a player who does more than what his salary projects, like David Perron, he's a bargain right now for the Oilers. Buying high, is paying Clarkson over 5 million a season on average for 10 points. So either you had a typo and meant buying high, or you're very, very stupid.

You're sort of right, except that you're linking it too much to salary.

Buying low means getting a player for less than market because his value is low at the time. For example, trading Yakupov right now is a certain example of selling low because his return will not be great. Hemsky was another example of selling low, despite his salary because Ottawa could probably already get more than they paid for him just based on the last 4 games.

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#79 Doctor Smashy
March 18 2014, 10:20AM
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Correct me if I'm wrong but Martin Hanzal has never played for the Blackhawks...

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#80 BobbyCanuck
March 18 2014, 11:26AM
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This is what I take away from all the articles today:

1) Cannot fire Eakins, because we need continuity 2) Cannot trade Gagner until he starts to play better 3)Infact, cannot trade any of the core until they start playing better (RNH,Eberle being the best trade bait)

Personally I want to keep Hall, Perron, and Yakipov as they all seem to display what the Oilers need. (Talent, heart)

Give MacT time, well for me he has had his three strikes

1) Treatement of Krueger 2) Treatment of Smid 3) Gagner contract

Someone mentions that give Eakins the first 15 games next season to prove his worth, and if we go 3-12-2 or something, get rid of him. Realize if we go with that kind of record in the first 15 games, the season is done by the end of Novemenber, much like this one.

Fundamentally we are saying that next season is toast, and we are gearing up for the McDavid sweepstakes, is that what we are saying? If so, you all now know exactly why Katz has zero impetuous to make the team better.

The Kool-Aid is tasting mighty fine in E-town

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#81 Ed in Edmonton
March 18 2014, 11:44AM
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vetinari wrote:

I think that most forwards and defencemen need about 400 to 500 games under their belt to see what they really bring to the table. Of course, there are exceptions to the rule but it is helpful.

You also have to look at whether their major stats (points, goals, assists, ice time, +/-, corsi, etc.) are generally improving or declining and whether their role on the team has expanded or reduced over that time to get a true sense of the player.

With Gagner, he's at a low and seems, like most of the Oiler youth, to try to cheat for offence and gives up way too many chances during the course of a game. I don't know if he is being a bad example that the others follow or if how the others play is encouraging him to try high risk plays at the offensive blueline, usually leading to a 2 on 1 or 3 on 1 the other way.

Sadly, unless you can replace him through the draft or through a UFA signing, I think that the Oilers are stuck with him until he rebounds and I can't see anyone trading anything more than a generic depth player for him or a non-first round draft pick.

In fact, if we can get a different 2C, I would shift him to the wing on a line with defensively responsible partners (Gordon?) and bench him as and when needed to drive home that he's on a short leash until he learns. Hopefully, a more rounded player emerges, otherwise, take your peanuts in a season or two, move on, and try again with a new player.

It takes about 5 to 6 years for most players to get into the 400 to 500 games range. A good number never reach this number of games. If a player breaks into the NHL as a teenager, maybe the 400 to 500 makes sense. But for a more typical route of turning pro at 20 and 2 to 3 years in the AHL and starting in the NHL at 22 or 23, by the time they have 400 to 500 NHL games they are probably getting past their best before date.

But if your point is that Gagner is at the 400 to 500 game range and that there is no reason to expect improvement, I totally agree.

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#82 Al Low
March 18 2014, 11:46AM
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Great points in this article. It would be ideal for Gagner to be playing up to his potential and then trading him. But with that not happening, he'll likely be dealt for another underperformer with potential. At the end of the day, though, Gagner won't be here when Edmonton finally finds its way back into playoff condition.

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#83 mayorblaine
March 18 2014, 12:21PM
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i like Gagner. i like his effort, his willingness, his team mentality.

that aside we should trade him for what we need, and not keep for what we hope. he won't be more than he is. which is ok, but not here.

of course like stated prior, he should have been gone before, when the asset had value. management can't foreshadow worth a crap.

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#84 Smokey
March 18 2014, 12:31PM
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I look at it like this. You got 5 million to sign a different player and trade Sam. Get what you can, get out. Pull a Sather.

The only problem is the mismanagement could not lure a sewer rat with french turd, and FA like the perception that the organization is not a Mickey Mouse outfit.

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#85 **
March 18 2014, 02:57PM
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Lochenzo wrote:

Maybe Sam Gagner wouldn't feel like he has to cheat for offence if the team wasn't struggling for offence.

Defence is learnable, no matter how old you are. The key is the buy in - commitment and dedication. Brett Hull did it later in his career. So I think it's a mistake to say that Sam Gagner is a lost cause in the defensive zone.

Now, having said that, I'm open to trading Sam, but MacT better cover the bases, acquiring either a #2 centre or a top 2 Dman for Sam Gagner or having this trade involving another Oiler asset in his pocket before moving Sam Gagner for something else.

In Gagner's defense, none of the top 6 forwards seems to know what to do on defence. To me this is a coaching issue. Then again, Gagner has been bad positionally since day 1.

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#86 TigerUnderGlass
March 18 2014, 03:12PM
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** wrote:

Not sure if you're trolling or just incapable of reading and arguing.

I don't even know what that is supposed to mean.

For your clarity, the use of "what" in my comments relay the lack of a connection between your statements and anything written by young Willis.

On a related note, here is another bit of rich hypocrisy for everyone's enjoyment.

Personally I'd rather you read things before you drool all over the keyboard.

updated for one more:

I don't appreciate it when someone puts words in my mouth
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#87 **
March 18 2014, 03:40PM
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TigerUnderGlass wrote:

More accurately, I am in the process of pointing out a troll to everyone else.

I call you a troll, you answer:

"I don't even know what that is supposed to mean."

Then you write on another post:

"More accurately, I am in the process of pointing out a troll to everyone else."

Your argument just became massively invalid.

I'm done here. Good night.

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#88 The Last Big Bear
March 18 2014, 06:55PM
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Cold Hard Truth wrote:

In mid-July 2013, Vic Michaels asked MacTavish if he was going to make any more moves to improve the team.

MacTavish stated: "Not really at this point."

"when I sit down and look at our roster, I’m reasonably comfortable that we’ve made some progress and reasonably comfortable with the depth of our line-up.”

"I’m reasonably optimistic that we’re going to be a real good hockey team.”

My Point: MacTavish ignored, or did not see, the blindingly obvious holes we have in the roster. MacTavish demonstrated poor judgement. He does not have some Grand Strategy for the team, but is flying by the seat of his pants.

I like the cut of your jib.

MacTavish should be lapping up the undeserved credit for "turning around" a team that couldn't get any worse, and was inevitably going to get better even if only by virtue of the young players being a year older.

Instead he's getting a free pass for somehow, some way, managing to make the team even WORSE.

Yes, he acquired Scrivens and signed him to a good contract. Yes, he won the Perron-MPS trade.

Virtually everything else he's done has been questionable AT BEST.

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#89 Doctor Smashy
March 18 2014, 10:23AM
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Is there any merit to continue our search for a 2C but not move Gagner to get it? Gagner is great passer so might he be better on the wing (and improve his value at that position)? Also, he just wasn't this bad any other year in terms of stupid plays (they're not even lazy really)...none of these conversations were going on last year were they?

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#90 vetinari
March 18 2014, 10:49AM
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I think that most forwards and defencemen need about 400 to 500 games under their belt to see what they really bring to the table. Of course, there are exceptions to the rule but it is helpful.

You also have to look at whether their major stats (points, goals, assists, ice time, +/-, corsi, etc.) are generally improving or declining and whether their role on the team has expanded or reduced over that time to get a true sense of the player.

With Gagner, he's at a low and seems, like most of the Oiler youth, to try to cheat for offence and gives up way too many chances during the course of a game. I don't know if he is being a bad example that the others follow or if how the others play is encouraging him to try high risk plays at the offensive blueline, usually leading to a 2 on 1 or 3 on 1 the other way.

Sadly, unless you can replace him through the draft or through a UFA signing, I think that the Oilers are stuck with him until he rebounds and I can't see anyone trading anything more than a generic depth player for him or a non-first round draft pick.

In fact, if we can get a different 2C, I would shift him to the wing on a line with defensively responsible partners (Gordon?) and bench him as and when needed to drive home that he's on a short leash until he learns. Hopefully, a more rounded player emerges, otherwise, take your peanuts in a season or two, move on, and try again with a new player.

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#91 They're $hittie
March 18 2014, 11:11AM
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E=MC2 not E=HC2

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#92 Rod from Viking
March 18 2014, 12:31PM
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** wrote:

I hope you weren't trolling because I just felt respected. *leans back on his chair and nods approvingly*

Your observation was bang on so keep nodding, I just hope your last name is Lumley then even Katz will agree with you and the media scrums would be fantastic.

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#93 A-Mc
March 18 2014, 12:39PM
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freelancer wrote:

At this point I think the last thing Yak needs is to go down to a league he will dominate in. Remember last season during the lockout when Ebs Hall and Nuge played in OKC. Lots of people, including Krueger I believe saying how they developed some bad habits down there.

Yak has shown this season to be an incredibly effective player when he is engaged, it's consistency he lacks. Can't look to shelter him anymore.

Hall Nuge and Ebs were a line that dominated together. It's different when there are 3 of them together as opposed to just 1 guy (yak) by himself.

If bad habits are forming then that is on Todd Nelson.. Yak would be there to develop his defensive game and regain offensive confidence, which i dont think is an unrealistic expectation.

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#94 Will
March 18 2014, 12:44PM
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Bucknuck wrote:

Or they could have just signed Arcobello to a one way contract. I've seen enough to think he's an upgrade defesively on Gagner and with decent wingers (and playing Centre) his production would be similar to Gagners.

No trade needed, and they could concentrate on getting a defender, which is what the team needs most.

Arco might not be a long term solution (read "probably not") but hes a cheaper and better option that Gagner.

^This all day... sort of.

He's a better replacement for Gagner, but really not what the team needs. We need a bonafide 2nd line centre, not an upgrade on a questionable one.

Legwand, Stasny, just get one of em. Trade Gagner away for anything to remove his contract from the cap. Use the extra money to sign a decent name on D, like Markov for the time being.

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#95 **
March 18 2014, 01:24PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

Are you the only one who doesn't realize that Boyd Gordon, Matt Hendricks and insert-a-winger are currently the guys getting most of the defensive zone starts?

All I'm suggesting is that this continues, but perhaps with fewer of them against quality opponents.

You said to bump Gordon to the 4th line, I am well aware his line right now is getting most of the defensive zone starts (hence why I wrote about them getting the lion's share of the d zone starts, if you bothered to read my post), that is the whole point of my argument, you are suggesting bumping these guys down to the fourth line, which will either reduce their ice time, giving them less d zone starts, and that, please explain to me how that is a good idea given the excellent job they are doing.

And the supposed payoff is so Gagner can marginally improve his trade value.

The other outcome is that the fourth line ends up playing 3rd line minutes because they will continue to be used massively on d zone starts, and that ice time will have to be cut somewhere else. Again how would that help the team? The bottom line is you are suggesting drastically altering the dynamic of the team based on marginally improving the performance of an average player. I personally believe a team should not revolve around one player, let alone a Gagner. Unless maybe he is a Kobe Bryant or a Dan Marino or a Wayne Gretzky.

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#97 Casey
March 18 2014, 02:07PM
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They're $hittie wrote:

Why are people so hard for Draisaitl. Ya he is big and talented, but I just got a bad feeling that says bust. I still think if we go with a center it has to be one of the sams. Pick the best player not the biggest.

I agree BUT 105 points in 64 games does not say bust at all. Still though I would prefer Sam Bennett over Draisatl. 91 points in 57 games is a good resume BUT add that with his 118 penalty mintues

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#98 **
March 18 2014, 02:18PM
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oilerjed wrote:

Thanks for that. My next question was about Yakimov. How ready is he?

Well he played solid, if not eye popping, hockey at the WJC. Physically he is ready, but he needs to improve his skating, not that he is a coke machine, but he needs to get faster but beyond that I couldn't tell you. That's why I am intrigued to see him at the training camp, not at the prospects camp.

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#99 **
March 18 2014, 02:23PM
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TigerUnderGlass wrote:

That's rich.

The guy making some of the grossest mischaracterizations I have ever seen saying, "where did I write that?"

Me no te entiendo muchacho (aka the guy making the grossest generalization I have seen on this particular post, because A: I don't have a idyllic memory to recall all other mis characterizations I have ever seen, and B) because I am not self-serving (well sometimes).

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#100 **
March 18 2014, 03:03PM
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TigerUnderGlass wrote:

No special memory required.

If the Oilers followed JW's recommendations, Dubnyk would still be on net, Hemsky would still be here, Khabibulin would have been resigned, Horcoff would still be here, and nothing would ever change, because the team would still be terrible and no one would increase their value. Hell eve Jason Strudwick would probably be here still.

What?

I never liked Clarkson, and I am the one you're replying to. And you giving credence to the people running a team 8 years out of the playoffs, hmmm.... I know you can make a better argument than that. I can assure you Mac. T. is praying hail marys every night thanking the heavens Clarkson didn't sign here. Pretty much what you are predicting for Hendricks is what is happening to Clarkson right now. IF you are talking about khabibulin then I'm confused as to what your point is.

Again. WHAT?

Not sure if you're trolling or just incapable of reading and arguing.

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