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

89-Gagner-4

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, Sportsnet, the Edmonton Journal and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
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#101 **
March 18 2014, 04:00PM
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TigerUnderGlass wrote:

Now you can't even accurately characterize your own comments.

First:

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

Later to be referenced by:

I call you a troll

I know you hate having words put in your mouth so...

Regarding my "massively invalid" argument; I have no clue what you are getting at. Which argument exactly? I haven't made any arguments, and frankly, I don't think "argument" means what you think it means.

"I haven't made any arguments", Couldn't have said it better myself. Logical arguments anyways.

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#102 TigerUnderGlass
March 18 2014, 04:13PM
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** wrote:

So now you're a troll, and a parrot. This is getting interesting.

Since you seem to have given up even trying to defend your comments I'll take that to mean you've had enough and call it a day.

Till next time your comments become fallacious then.

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#103 TigerUnderGlass
March 18 2014, 04:16PM
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For the anti-Yakupov brigade:

https://twitter.com/mc79hockey/status/446045332246261760/photo/1

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#104 **
March 18 2014, 04:19PM
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A-Mc wrote:

This thread went down the pisser.. and fast.

Yeah, I got too much free time today, plus, they were just asking for it, made it too easy, too hard to resist. Sorry Nation.

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#105 TigerUnderGlass
March 18 2014, 04:24PM
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** wrote:

Yeah, I got too much free time today, plus, they were just asking for it, made it too easy, too hard to resist. Sorry Nation.

People were asking for you to lie about what Willis wrote?

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#106 Oiler Al
March 18 2014, 04:42PM
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** wrote:

"I haven't made any arguments", Couldn't have said it better myself. Logical arguments anyways.

Linus taught you were going to bed, didnt mama tuck you in with you cookies, glass of milk and a bed time story,

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#107 JohnQPublic
March 18 2014, 11:59PM
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This is one of the better articles I have read on this site.

Nice job Willis.

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#108 Rdubb
March 19 2014, 02:33AM
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But you are forgetting that after July 1, Edmonton cannot trade Gagner without his consent as he has a no-trade clause, or did you forget that? Also, Can't the coaching staff do something to get him to become more defensively responsible? Maybe such as telling him EVERYDAY at practice and while watching film, alone and in front of everyone else, or can't they get a guy(s) like Ference (which should be his job as a vet and the captain), or Smitty or even Hendricks to go talk to him and get it in his thick head? Can't they take ice time away from him until he learns? We have Lander up so let's see what he can do on the 2nd line for the remainder of the yr? can't they sit his butt in the press box? Now that I am pissed at him again, why not move him to the wing where his defensive liability isn't such a big deal? Who cares if he thinks he is an NHL 2nd line C, because all his stats say he ISN'T, & that MUST BE pointed out to him. Have MacT tell him that there is very little interest in him, so maybe the best thing for his career is to move over. Sam is too hard headed and must soon realize to either learn to play a better defensive game or he must realize that he is not a 2nd line C, maybe a 3rd line at best on any other team, and on a good team, he'd be a 4th, and he doesn't play the game of a 4th liner, so, where does that him? PLAYING THE FREAKING WING!!!! Let's try him on the wing for more than a game or two, and who really gives a damn if he pouts and acts like a 10yr old child when he is moved, if he does, sit his butt down, explain things, TELL HIM WHAT IS FACT and then have him buy a bag of popcorn during the game... Just my thoughts Peck

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#109 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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#111 Tuningout
March 18 2014, 10:50AM
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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 think people are assuming the Oilers play their way out of a top 3 pick this year. The Sams are going top three for sure according to the lists right now. 4-6 pick could get Drasaitl possibly.

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#112 Tuningout
March 18 2014, 11:01AM
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At least in a trade Gagner is a center (or at least pretends to be). Even with his poor performance I would hope the center in a trade has a bit more value. If the trade is an under performing center Gagner for an under performing winger (or an arguably bottom pairing defenceman struggling to take the next step) I will not be happy.

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#113 Will
March 18 2014, 11:24AM
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This is a well thought out solution, however it means only Gagner gets the soft parade and only for the purposes of trading him after all his clauses kick in, limiting the places he can go. Trading him for lower value is a tough pill to swallow, but it opens up cap space in order to actually sign a big name free agent for his replacement. What if you sign that guy first but can't trade Gagner, and are now over the cap, after Gagner's clauses kick in. That would really screw a team.

And since the third line needs a replacement for Hemsky anyway, getting Kyle Clifford back is not such a terrible return.

I also don't mind the idea of trading ebs for our centre needs and putting Gagner on the wing. Though that depletes a position of strength RW, to one of relative weakness, making everything hinge on Yak and Gagner.

It is unfortunate to have to trade Gagner when his value is low, but keeping him around for yet another season where his presence stops the likes of Lander or Arco coming up and playing on a value contract, could be the worst decision of all.

The one thing I respect most about Mac T over his predecessor, is his decisiveness. Good or bad, at least the man is trying.

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#114 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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#115 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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#116 A-Mc
March 18 2014, 12:34PM
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** wrote:

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

My suggestion was based off the Assumption that we weren't going to move Gagner due to low value.

My vote would be to move him anyway as long as it wasnt for picks.. But if we HAVE to keep him, i would take him out of that Centerman position and put someone in there that will be either 1) more defensively responsible or 2) Produce more points

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

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#118 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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#119 Total Points
March 18 2014, 12:39PM
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Eakins should have played Arco as the second line center all year and put Gagner on the wing or 3rd line center until his health improved.

Now most Oiler fans want Gagner gone. Not his fault that he was played on 1st or 2nd line before he was ready to return to form from his injury. Then he lost his confidence

Very poor coaching led to this. Again, another poor decision by management. MacT should have helped his rookie coach with this.

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#120 Tikkanese
March 18 2014, 12:43PM
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** wrote:

YEah, let's keep working with the "what if" strategy, it has worked great so far.

Same could be said for the sell low buy high strategy that has been going on for longer than the what if strategy in Edmonton.

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#121 Jordan1126
March 18 2014, 12:59PM
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Hi Everyone Sam Gagner here....no I will not play defence....oops i mean eat green eggs and ham

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#123 Tikkanese
March 18 2014, 02:26PM
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** wrote:

Please elaborate.

Oilers sell low/buy high strategy elaboration:

Buy high

- Khabibulin UFA

- Ben Eager UFA

- Eric Belanger UFA

- most argue Sam Gagner's current contract

- some would argue Nugent-Hopkins contract

- offering more than Leafs did for David Clarkson

- Denis Grebeshkov's one way high price contract

Sell Low

- Hemsky trade years too late for magic beans

- Pronger's trade for magic beans immediatley after request became public knowledge

- Ryan Whitney not traded at deadline

- Curtis Glencross walking over minimal $ difference

Buying high and selling low on the same player:

Buy high - Sheldon Souray UFA

Sell low - buyout of Sheldon Souray

Buy high - Shawn Horcoff contract after career year

Sell low - Horcoff one of the best 3C in the game trade for magic beans, albeit due to the contract

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#124 -30-
March 18 2014, 02:42PM
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Gagner is like Cogliano. A square peg being forced into a round hole.

In another situation, on another team Gagner will find his niche and flourish but not in Edmonton.

-30-

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#125 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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#126 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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#127 Ed in Edmonton
March 18 2014, 02:53PM
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Tikkanese wrote:

Oilers sell low/buy high strategy elaboration:

Buy high

- Khabibulin UFA

- Ben Eager UFA

- Eric Belanger UFA

- most argue Sam Gagner's current contract

- some would argue Nugent-Hopkins contract

- offering more than Leafs did for David Clarkson

- Denis Grebeshkov's one way high price contract

Sell Low

- Hemsky trade years too late for magic beans

- Pronger's trade for magic beans immediatley after request became public knowledge

- Ryan Whitney not traded at deadline

- Curtis Glencross walking over minimal $ difference

Buying high and selling low on the same player:

Buy high - Sheldon Souray UFA

Sell low - buyout of Sheldon Souray

Buy high - Shawn Horcoff contract after career year

Sell low - Horcoff one of the best 3C in the game trade for magic beans, albeit due to the contract

Virtually all of the "buy high" are high $ values. I don't see any high players values given as a buy high. If we are just talking about the K man's $, then I'm not too stressed.

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#128 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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#129 **
March 18 2014, 03:35PM
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Tikkanese wrote:

Then don't claim I said the Oilers should keep Gagner on the "What if" scenario.

When I clearly asked the question "What if Gagner suddenly learns to play two-ways? Do you still trade him?"

You are asking "What if?", I am not claiming anything, that's what you wrote. The only way to answer your what if is for the Oilers to decide not to trade Gagner and let him play here next season. Unless you are asking what if Gagner learns to play two-ways in the 13 games left in the season. IF that's the case then good luck with that.

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#130 **
March 18 2014, 04:01PM
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TigerUnderGlass wrote:

Caps are for emphasis. How does one "calm tits" exactly? That's cool though. What's a little misogyny to go with your hypocrisy.

Damn, gotta call all the scientific community in the world right away. Apparently only women have tits now.

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#131 **
March 18 2014, 04:04PM
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TigerUnderGlass wrote:

I repeat, I don't think "argument" means what you think it means.

So now you're a troll, and a parrot. This is getting interesting.

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

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#133 pkam
March 18 2014, 11:07AM
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TKB2677 wrote:

Don't look at the Oilers site because they always add more to the players stats. Look at hockeydb. He's listed at 5'11, 191 which is a hell of a lot more accurate. They have Eberle listed at 6'0, 185. I would say that Gagner and Eberle are almost identical in size.

As an example, Iginla is listed at 210 on the bruins site (207 on hockeydb). Carter is listed at 212 on the kings site (212 on hockey db). The Oilers site has Gagner listed at 202lbs. You telling me that Gagner is only 5lbs lighter than Iginla and 10ls lighter than Carter? Come on man get real.

Oilers site always add more to the players stats? Then why Eberle is listed as 5'11 and 180 lbs at Oilers site when you believe he is actually 6'0 and 185 lbs?

If you don't believe the Oilers site, you can always look it up at NHL.com.

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

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#135 TKB2677
March 18 2014, 11:16AM
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Personally, I don't believe for a second that Gagner is only 8 lbs lighter than Iginla and 10 lbs ligher than Carter. The supposed numbers say he is but if they stand side by side, there's just no way. You watch Gagner walk into a rink in his suit, then you see Iginla and Carter walk into a rink in their suits. It's not close.

But whatever, it is what it is.

Regardless of where Gagner plays, even if you take him out of center. It still doesn't change the fact that after 7 season, he still can't play defense to save his live. His career high is 18 goals and his career high in points is 49. After 7 seasons, it's a pretty safe bet that in an Oiler uniform, Gagner is as good as he's going to get. Eberle this season in a "down year" is probably going to score 25 goals and 60 pts. Gagner is going to be lucky to get 12 goals and 40 pts. So the center you get back for Eberle better be one hell of an upgrade over Gagner because exchanging Gagner for Eberle on right wing is a drastic drop off.

I am of the opinion that a different center doesn't have to be much to be an upgrade on Gagner. All he needs is a little more size and better 2 way play and he's an automatic upgrade. Getting 15ish goals and 44 pts (which is where Gagner has average excluding the last years shortened year) isn't that hard given the wingers the center will be able to play with on the Oilers.

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#136 Will
March 18 2014, 11:42AM
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Beer League Hero wrote:

I haven't seen Gagner do much of anything all season but he's not the only Oiler with that problem. I would have no problem shoring up other areas of the team with a Gagner package.

Ideally the Oilers should trade Gagner++ for help on defense or 2C. Looking for a team holding a veteran with a bad contract. Or overpaying a defencemen like Brooks Orpik or Andrei Markov. What about Dan Boyle or Kimmo Timmonen?

As posted today on ON, the team lacks proper veteran leadership that the "core" can bend an ear from every now and then. I think it'd be prudent to watch which teams go far into the playoffs this year and see who Edmonton could pick up from said teams. Ference will eventually be seen as an important piece someday as will Hendricks.

Wouldn't Jaromir Jagr be an excellent pick up? What a mentor he'd be for the boys?

We need veteran help not help from actual war veterans. All the guys you listed are ooooold. At least Markov could be in the league for a few more years.

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#137 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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#138 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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#139 zoolander
March 18 2014, 11:46AM
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Doctor Smashy wrote:

props to 1260 here...

Hanzal...He's so hot right now....

Are you kidding....His blue-steel needs a lot of work.

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#140 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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#141 Beer League Hero
March 18 2014, 11:49AM
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Will wrote:

We need veteran help not help from actual war veterans. All the guys you listed are ooooold. At least Markov could be in the league for a few more years.

You are not wrong but with such a young roster one or two of these vets would provide what the kids could really use. They'd only be on short term contracts in order for the kids to have a little buffer.

I can't honestly see any of them signing in Edmonton for anything less than an island off the shores of Thailand but it's what they bring to the team as oppose to what the take away from it.

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#142 Bucknuck
March 18 2014, 12:21PM
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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.

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#143 FuManShu
March 18 2014, 12:30PM
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fasteddy wrote:

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.

Did you happen to see Draisaitl at the WJC? If you're basing your viewings on that, remember the supporting cast he had around him compared to Ekblad or Reinhart.

Just saying.

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#144 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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#145 dman
March 18 2014, 12:42PM
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They're $hittie wrote:

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.

Calling him a bust is exactly what you did. See comment #15

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#146 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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#147 GoCanadaGo
March 18 2014, 12:44PM
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Can we find out what Robyn Brownlee thinks about Gagner?

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#148 MessyEH
March 18 2014, 01:00PM
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Tikkanese wrote:

I agree with JW. Keep Gagner at least until his trade value increases. Or doing an underachiever swap, such as Gagner for Myers.

What if Gagner suddenly learns to play two-ways? Do you still trade him? Gagner's offense cannot be learned at the NHL level, defense can.

It took Yzerman years to finally buy in to playing defense(not that Gagner is Yzerman). Stranger things have happened. Fedorov went from being a Hart winning center to an almost Norris caliber defensemen.

66 and 99 say Fedorov was the best player they ever played against. He was really a special player.

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#149 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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#150 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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