Patience is required in order to let things develop in their own time, especially when it comes to youth. One minute kids are failing again and again, the next minute they’ve mastered the discipline and moved to a new level. When it comes to predicting hockey players and their futures, patience is a vital part of the plan.

I’ve noticed  a disturbing trend among the msm early this season. Although patient with the three kids, comments like "it is time for Sam Gagner to step up and I didn’t see it tonight" and "this is Gagner’s chance and despite the two points he hasn’t impressed" have been sliding into our living rooms and vehicles via television and radio.

Deep breath. We need to remember that everyone drafted 2006+ is (or should be) considered a developing player or prospect. Jeff Petry (drafted in 2006) is just starting his pro hockey career, Sam Gagner (drafted in 2007) is 21 years, 2 months old. There are miles to go before the race is run.

If we go back to the beginning, we can re-set the expectations: Gare Joyce, in his wonderful book Future Greats and Heartbreaks:

  • On the morning of the draft, there’s all kinds of cross-talk and scuttle-butt about Columbus’s plans for the 7th overall pick. One thing is certain: The Blue Jackets would feel much better about their pick if it were sixth, and all the more so at No. 4 or No. 3. The way the Blue Jackets and a lot of other teams see it, there’s an elite group of six draft-elgibiles: Patrick Kane, James van Riemsdyk, Kyle Turris, Sam Gagner, Jakub Voracek and Karl Alzner. After this group, there’s a significant fall-off. Last year, the Bue Jackets ranked seven players "top 10’s." This year, just six made the grade.

A "top ten" was defined early in the book as a possible draft pick who could be a difference maker, someone who could develop into a first line NHL player, maybe an All-Star, definitely someone who can contribute to a winning team.I think we need to place Gagner in that context, a top flight young player who can contribute to a winning team. He certainly helped on October 22, 2009 and he can help this season too. However, we need to be patient with him. Prospects don’t develop in parallel lines with past HOFers, they take their own path based on all kinds of factors (including quality of team).

I think this comes from the idea that in being patient with the three kids up front it will fall to others to lead the way. I agree. Shawn Horcoff, Dustin Penner, Ales Hemsky, those men are completely capable of having a consistent impact on the team (positively) pretty much every night. I believe Sam Gagner will get there. But expecting him to develop into that 1line C overnight (as if turning on a switch) is unreasonable.

If "Sam Gagner isn’t developing as I hoped" then perhaps you need to examine whether or not your hopes are reasonable. How much of the offense is vanRiemsdyk carrying in Philly? Voracek in Columbus? The Edmonton Oilers have chosen to fast track yet another generation of kids. That’s not Sam Gagner’s fault. I think he’ll continue to develop and should pass the 50-point mark this season. If you’re looking for 70 points from him, I’d suggest that is beyond reason. According to nhl.com, exactly 15 centermen had 70 or more points last season, while 43 had 50 or more points.

I think Sam Gagner should end up in that group of men over 50 points this season, but 70 seems a stretch. With that in mind, I think pointing to Gagner after 2 games as an underachiever borders on the ridiculous.

  • Milli

    I like Sam alot, I like his compete level. This kid has talent, but, more than that he has smarts and drive. He will be a good NHLer. Lots of guys have talent, but lots lack smarts and drive.

  • magisterrex

    Great article; well-reasoned. With 2 whole games under his belt, and a point/game average in them, it’s a bit odd to hear the anti-Samwise chant start up.

    I’d be happy with 50 points this season. Even happier at 70, but I know that’s not very realistic. 9 months older than Eberle…Samwise is rapidly becoming Old Man Oiler.

  • Steve Smith

    Fans will be asking for one more year of Gagner for the next 5 years.

    Hell, fans are still crying for Horcoff to get one more chance and he’s a 5.5 million Dom Moore.

    2007 was a one of the worst drafts in a long time time and I bet the biggest reason people think Gagner has bright future is because he played with Pat Kane in the past.

    I suspect we will hold onto him until he has zero value like Pouliot, Schremp, O’Sullican ect

    That’s the Oiler way.

      • Steve Smith

        Too early to tell.

        For all we know Tambellini could pick up Crosby and Malkin and put them on a line with Horcoff.

        Horcoff very well could break is 22 goal career high.

  • Steve Smith

    Oh.. and if you want to know why fans have unrealistic expectations of Gagner it’s probably because some of the supposed “brighter minds” of the oilogosphere have been calling him the next Doug Gilmour or Vincent Damphousse.

    Damphousse had 94 points his 4th year in the league. Gilmour had 105.

    I guess the people trumpeting those comps didn’t actually believe what they saying.

    Here’s a better comp

    Mike Comrie at 20 years old: 33 goals

    Sam Gagner at 20 years old: 41 points

    Gags will be lucky to ever get to the level of Mike Comrie who signed for a mere 500k with the Pens.

    Horcoff/Gags is worse than the Toronto Maple Leafs 1-2 combo

    • C-DOG

      Couldn’t agree more, I have been saying that for a while.

      It shouldn’t be a suprise the Oilers get outshot more often than not being so thin at centre and defence.

      Oilers centres should be: Hall,Brule,Horcoff and Fraser. If Hall can’t play centre then they drafted the wrong guy and are in trouble.

      Comrie might of been 21 when he scored 33, but still a good comp, plus that was the clutch and grab era. Sam would of had a hard time adjusting in that era.

      • Hall is not a centre. Period. Not this year anyway. He isnt even close to good enough defensively yet for that job. He still hasnt figured out that he cant take minute long shifts and Horcoff is trying to explain how to help out defensively as a LW.

        What have you seen from him that suggests he’s ready to play the most responsible position on the ice? Nothing.

        They may well have drafted the wrong guy, but that doesnt mean Hall should play the wrong position. He should be a very successful player one day, soon I hope, but he wont be a Centre any time in the near future.

        Gagner earned the #1 spot late last year and played well. In two games he has 2 points. Can we please stop pretending like this guy is sh*tting the bed out there?

        • C-DOG

          Hall doesn’t have to be a centre right now but should be given an oppertunity eventualy.I am willing to live with his mistakes at centre during a rebuild.

          If you want to go by late last year than Cog’s should be that guy, he finished last year better than Gagne.

          I never said he is sh*tting the bed now, I just don’t beleive he should be playing centre long term.I am all for letting him rack up some easy points right now, but trading him later.

          • Trade him for what? Is there another centre that we could get back that will be with the organization for a guaranteed 4 years that will have a better upside and contract?

            Playing against the opposition’s best defenders every night on the 1st line doesnt strike me as easy.

            Jesus. In one sentence you suggest that, in the spirit of the rebuild, you’re fine with the team playing young guys in situations where they will make mistakes. Then in another sentence you suggest the team ought to trade a 21 year old centre who has proven to be 2nd highest scoring player from his draft year.

            Are we rebuilding or not? If we are then what the hell do you plan on accomplishing by trading the team’s best young centre? Do we have different definitions of “Rebuild”?

            My definition goes something like “Changing the dynamic of a team by accumulating younger players and prospects via the draft and trades, usually accompanied with several years of losing. Generally these teams select high in the draft as a result of their losing and as such pick better young players. After several years of rebuilding the team generally has a core group of young players who can help the team win again.”

            How again does getting rid of the team’s young players help the end goal?

          • C-DOG

            Very easy, you get rid of the ones you don’t beleive in, and play the ones you do and live with there mistakes. Being patient with someone you don’t beleive in doesn’t make sense to me.

            Stop using 2nd most productive player in his class , he got a chance and was rushed on a horrible team, Vorachek,Sutter ,Peron and maybe even Couture will end up better than him in my opinion and were taken after him. Mike Bodeker and Nikita Filatov have more points than Eberle does that mean they are better than him, NO!

            Trade him for a younger prospect say d-man to help build in another position. If he can’t get you that, than that means he has little value.

          • Oh, hey, look at that. Gagner’s got another point in today’s game. He was also 2 inches away from a goal that hit the post. But yeah, it’s time to give up on him.

            ~I sure wish the Oil had selected Logan Couture instead. I would have much rather had his career 10 points in the line-up.~

            EDIT: Seriously? Filatov? I hope you wake up from this terrible dream land you live in where you can claim that Filatov > Eberle is the same argument as Gagner > Couture.

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    “I do think losing wieght was a mistake, however it’s not like he can’t gain it back. And if he was actually 198 at 20, thiers no reason he can’t be 210 at 25.”

    If Gagner got to 210 pounds he would be slower than Jason Allison.

  • C-DOG

    @ OB1 Hall

    He was given 1st line duties without earning it this year and is curently playing with them, and has always recieved top 2 line minutes p.p. or otherwise and you can’t argue that.I like how you only mention ev time as if he doesn’t benifit from 1st p.p. time.

    I see you have no comments regarding what Cog’s did in the last 20 games of last year.

    • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

      How on earth has he not earned it? I do think Horc is still the better all around center for the next year or two. But I’d much rather have him with 2 rookies then Gagner.

      Gagner scored 60% of his points last year with Penner on the ice, Penner/Gagner were on the ice together 57% of Gagner’s total ice time (all situaions)

      Looks to me like he produced at basically the same clip with and without Penner.

      Why would I comment on Cogliano? He’s irrelavant to Gagner, where he’s got his points, who he’s produced with and what his potential is.

      • C-DOG

        The whole point about Cog’s is that anyone with decent talet can produce the same as Gagne did given similar oppertunity.

        60% is on the fist line 40% on the second line, still only a 40+ point producer, thanks for using your #’s to prove my point.

        When all said and done decent players putting up points on a bad team.

        • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

          “The whole point about Cog’s is that anyone with decent talet can produce the same as Gagne did given similar oppertunity”

          Which is a bunch of balogne.

          I’m going to touch back on your point about his prime ice-time. So we’ve now had 3 NHL coaches giving him prime ice time… yet you think you’ve figured it out that he doesn’t deserve it. Good job Shadi!! You’ve outsmarted 3 straight NHL coaches.

          “60% is on the fist line 40% on the second line, still only a 40+ point producer, thanks for using your #’s to prove my point”

          And 50th for PPG amoungst centers (min 41+ games)….at 20!!!

          “When all said and done decent players putting up points on a bad team.”

          Just another lame excuse, if we were a top team you’d be claiming the only reason he put up points is because he’s on a top team.

          • C-DOG

            No, he wouldn’t put up good #’s on a good team, because you can’t have a good team with Gagne as its #1 centre thats an oximoron.

            It doesn’t matter if 3 coaches beleived in him, the point is the team is weak at centre and all 3 coaches didn’t have much better options and 2 have been fired.

          • C-DOG

            Play with my words all you want. You know I said d-man,not defensive prospect, but hey it’s a long sword that can fit more than one rose colored seeing delusional fan.

            Is the the part were you guys giggle and fist pump each other.

          • C-DOG

            You would be wrong, but that doesn’t mean he would be a dissapoitment. If he ends up being a top 45 2 way centre than he has had a good career, I personaly don’t like him at centre. I would of liked to see Seguin and Brule be the teams top 2 centres going forward, hopefully now it will be Cotourier or Hopkins at #1 Brule/Pitlick in a couple of years at #2,3.

          • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

            You haven’t had one solid argument, all you are clinging too (besides your ridiculous bias) is that he is (relatively) small and (relatively) slow… as in those aren’t things that a 21 year old can improve on…. or that their haven’t been very succesful players that have over come the same obsticles.

          • So you want to trade Gagner for an NHL D-man. Do you have one in mind or will any 2nd pairing guy do?

            There isnt anything delusional about being optimistic regarding Gagner as an NHL centre. The only delusional fan in this conversation is the one who cant see how well Gagner’s done given his age and the situations he’s been placed in.

            I dont fist pump or giggle when I read nonsense, unless it’s from madjam. Sometimes I giggle at what madjam writes.

          • C-DOG

            We all agree the team is weak at centre , so it needs to be upgraded, and he is part of the reason why they are weak at centre, so he needs to be upraded.

            You guys are admiting the weakness and are failing to recognize he is a part of the weakness.

            Imagine how pissed you guys would be if I said undraft him like someone once said.

          • The TEAM is weak at centre. It is not weak at centre because of Gagner. It is weak at Centre because it only has Gagner as a legit top 6 Centre under 25 in its organization.

            It’s weak at Centre because the next best option on the 1st line put up less than 40 points last season.

            You arent upgrading the team’s deficiency at Centre by trading the best young Centre for a defenseman. That makes it worse. That move puts Horc back to #1, Cogliano into #2, Fraser to #3, and brings in AHL talent to be #4. You’ve effectively downgraded an already weak lineup. Thanks for playing the game.

            How am I supposed to recognize him as a part of the weakness? Am I supposed to be angry that we dont have more guys like him? Is that what we’re upset about? I’m confused.

          • C-DOG

            You upgrade it at the draft and give Hall a chance, you don’t worry about this year. It’s called a pre-emptive strike. Brule can play centre you don’t have to go to the minors.

          • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

            Or you come to grips with reality and realize that their isn’t some magical, mystical powers of the center that make him far more valuable then wingers.

          • C-DOG

            Centres are far more valueble than wingers , that is not even a debate. It’s not the title of centre that’s important. It’s the positioning on the ice, the faceoffs etc.

            Do you think it was a fluke that the Oilers were the 2nd best team in Shots against in 05-06(Detroit 1st). Since then they consistantly get out shot.

            It’s not a coincidence stoll and Horcoff had their best seasons that year, and had Pronger on D.

            If you don’t realize that you build with centres and D-men than your just clueless. The FACTS are there just check history it doesn’t lie.
            It’s like building an N.F.L team with w.r. Oh wait the Detroit lions did that, how did that work out or the N.J devils in Hockey post lockout, great regular seasons no playoff sucsess. Lost to Carolina 06 Weight, Brind’amour, Staal, 07 Spezza, Fisher,09 Staal, Brind’amour, 10 Richards, Carter, Giroux, they even lost to Drury and Gomez in 09. and check the previous 80 years for that matter.

          • C-DOG

            A d-man can’t be a prospect.

            Find wingers that led their teams as the franchise player to stanley cups, those are the facts wether you want to recognize them or not,decades of history don’t lie.

            I might be a clown for debating with someone with a lack of history and knowledge about hockey.

            For the record I was looking for a response from the blogger not from you,you don’t bring or recognize facts and when your stumped you mix my words,hurl insults, claim I’m guessing and get defensive with player you overate from your beloved team, don’t get stressed out by it it’s not worth the stress it’s just hockey.

            A time will come when you will be able to analize properly once you seperate emotion from facts, it takes time, it took me a few years to get their, fans always hope their players turn into something they are not, because they want whats best for their team, and are biased, but thats o.k I guess thats a part of being a fan escaping reality, so thats cool just don’t let it stress you out.

          • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

            “A d-man can’t be a prospect.”

            What are you talking about now? One post you’re talking trading for a defensive prospect the next post you are saying you aren’t talking about trading a defensive prospect. Now you are saying

            “A d-man can’t be a prospect” whatever that is supposed to mean.

            Weve been over the C/W thing 10 times. Yes almost every cup winner has a good center because theirs typically 15-20+ good centers in the league. Do the math.

          • C-DOG

            I always maintained aquireing a defensive prospect meanining a young d- man, not trading one for Gagne. Please read or don’t waste our time.

            Dude you just don’t get it with centres,If? there is 15-20 centres and you don’t have one, than what does that say about your teams chances. Thats the whole point!, wow are you clueless.

          • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

            And yet in post 106 you say

            “Play with my words all you want. You know I said d-man,not defensive prospect, but hey it’s a long sword that can fit more than one rose colored seeing delusional fan.”

          • C-DOG

            When I said defensive prospect, I gave you guys enough credit that you would asume D-man not a checking forward, when have I ever put a premium on a checking fwd, I have specifically said in the past I don’t want one because I don’t care about them during a rebuild and not worried about wins and wanting a bad finish for draft reasons, if you don’t beleive that than I know your playing with my words.

          • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

            You aren’t understanding.

            I’m not pointing out defensmen vs defensive forward.

            I’m pointing out defensmen prospect vs established defensmen

            One post you say: “You know I said d-man,not defensive prospect”

            The next post you say: “You see whats available on the open market and take the best available prospect as seen by your scouts”

          • C-DOG

            Where does it say best available d-man/ prospect has to be an established d-man.

            I don’t recall saying established d-man.

            I I first said in post#81 trade him for a younger d-man prospect. If I did say established d-man than that was a mistake and I never meant to say that.

          • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

            Don’t bring facts?

            What a joke, I showed you what little time he spent with Penner/Hemsky over the last three years after you claimed they were the reason he was productive.

          • C-DOG

            It’s not just those guys it’s top 1 or 2 line minutes, p.p or other wise, you only like to use 5 on 5 because it benifits your argument, and even then 60% of his points came with Penner and still week #’s and still less productive than cog’s with Penner, those are the only #’s you came up with in dozens of post that actually prove my points.

            If your 1st line centre is the least taleted on his line and would be the least talented even on the 2nd line than he is just not good enough period, but your blind love does not allow you to see this, it’s not even a debate.

            He wouldn’t be a top 2 centre on more than half the teams in the league.

          • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

            Yes he’s played with a few of our more talented players, does that suprise you? Every team has 6-7 forwards of resonable talent, he would be playing with those guys too if he was on another team.

            Do you think we’d only get a true look at what he could do if he was centering Jones and Stortini?

          • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

            How on earth do the numbers I posted prove your point? The point I was commenting on was:

            “doesn’t get 1st line icetime and 1st p.p time and is battleing with Horcoff for gravy minutes, fans would realize exactly what he is, at best a second tier player.”

            In your post #55.

            When in reality he’s produced at roughly the same clip when he was playing with very average players that he did when he was playing with our top players (Hemsky/penner)

            That DISPROVES your point that it would fail if he was taken off the current #1 line.

          • C-DOG

            I went through all 30 teams and Gagne wouldn’t be a top 2 centre on at least 20 of them. He would probobly be moved to the wing if he was on any good team.

            Cog’s & Brule would of put up the same points if not more given an identical chance.

          • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

            “Cog’s & Brule would of put up the same points if not more given an identical chance.”

            Right, right. Three NHL coaches have been fooled, but you’ve figured it out.

          • C-DOG

            You don’t think the team would be better long term with Seguin in between Hemsky and Penner, and having Paajarvi on the second line with Eberle and one of Gagne ,Brule or Horcoff at centre, instead of having 3 good l.w. with not enough icetime to go around. Now they have to mess with p.p. time, Paajarvi got 58 sec of p.p time today, thats a waste of talent. this team is built lopsided, because they fell in love with the sexiness of Hall instead of trending history. It’s no fluke they were a last place org last year, injuries or not.

            If they drafted Seguin last year and tanked again this year( very possible if they play their cards right) and got Larrson, they would be a legit cup contender in 3-4 years. Now they have to hope Tambalini can make enough trades for franchise players, not likely.

          • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

            Wow, this is approaching madjam level.

            “the position is weak so trade away the best you’ve got at that position”

            FFS man, if you are weak in a position you don’t trade away the little bit of strength that you have, you try and add more strength.

          • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

            “No, he wouldn’t put up good #’s on a good team, because you can’t have a good team with Gagne as its #1 centre thats an oximoron.”

            Keep throwing out those unsuported positions of yours Shadi!!

  • C-DOG

    I like how you only use Couture when I mentioned 4 players. You Actualy want to give Gagne credit for those 3 points realy, the puck happned to touch his stick before 2 players did all the work, thats my point about decent players getting points on bad teams , there are no real options so in default they get those minutes, your braging about hitting the post on an empty net after a great feed from Hemsky ,O.K. A #1 centre would of put it away.

        • ~You win. I concede. Despite proving that he can produce in the NHL before he was legally allowed to drink on American road trips, Sam Gagner was a blown pick. The Oil should trade him. He can only get points on a losing team.~

          Rebuilding is pretty tough when you dont have the patience for it. What makes it worse though is prematurely jettisoning perfectly good young players because they dont meet your warped standards.

          • Lowetide

            Agreed. Gagner has been progressing since his rookie season and has posted offense in his first three seasons. A good reflection of that fact is where he ranks on the team each season in points.

            Gagner’s a solid bet to be a quality NHL player. Beyond that, who knows? But it is way too early to suggest he’s a bust.

          • That’s what drives me crazy. So what if he might not develop into that prototypical #1 centre? I’m pretty sure most winning teams have solid #2 centres.

            The 2014 Stanley Cup Champion Edmonton Oilers still need Offensive depth down the middle. If Gagner is bypassed by someone else as #1 by that time then surely he could still be helpfull to the club on the 2nd line.

          • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

            Exactly, if by some miracle we can land another young center that will still be better then Gagner in 2-3 seasons, we’ll be in fabulous condition with a chance at having the most explosive collection of forwards in the league.

          • C-DOG

            I have never stated he is a bust, I have always said he would be a second line player at best not bust.

            Trading him later this year while his value might be at it’s highest since he is cheap and young would help in other areas. Thats hardly calling him a bust. I don’t beleive in slow/small centres and the wings are full, so thats why I suggest trading him.

          • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

            I just can’t belive people are starting to write him off just a few months past his 20th Bday.

            We’ve spent months talking re-build and patience and now one of the candidates for new whipping boy is 21 years old.

          • The guy’s had 3 different coaches in 4 years, had to play in front of AHL goaltending, been buried on the 4th line only to fight back to #1, and become a better defensive player every year (if the advanced stats mean anything) all while consistently puting up points on a brutal team, but NOW is the time to give up on him?

            I dont get it. Some people just arent going to be pleased.

          • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

            I will grant them that I’ve “saw him bad” so far this year, I think he made a big mistake losing lb’s.

            However I “saw him good for a good chunck of the last 200+ games”

            I think it needs to be beat into peoples head: 21 years old 21 years old 21 years old 21 years old 21 years old 21 years old 21 years old

  • C-DOG

    You see whats available on the open market and take the best available prospect as seen by your scouts, preferabely a young shut down d-man with agility, ie: Petrovich,Alzner or someone like that.

  • C-DOG

    Facts don’t lie look at Brule’s icetime last year and p.p minutes, more points/60 minutes than your boy and that’s with much less p.p./top 6 time or those #’s don’t support your argument.

    The reason why Gagne gets the benifit of the doubt is time invested in him not just skill set, see Pouliot,they never drafted Brule, they have to keep going to him since they rushed him and don’t want to ruin him or his confidence.

    This team can’t even be competitive with him as a #1 much less contend or God forbid help lead them to the playoffs.

      • C-DOG

        Thanks, thats the whole point, they are father away from making the playoffs in his 3/4th year than they were in his rookie year when no one took them seriously and they snuck up on teams, If he was that good as a rookie and the team had a lot of injuries and almost made it, than why are they farther back now, answer: very simple, week at centre / defence, the Facts!!!!! of history prevail again and again etc…