Please, No More Shootout Sam

Ever since he broke into the league as an 18-year old, Sam Gagner’s been a regular in the Oilers’ shootout rotation. Initially, it made sense, as Gagner’s signature 3000 dekes move fooled goaltenders. By the end of his rookie season, however, Gagner had scored just five times on 17 attempts – a 29.4% success rate, just below average for an NHL shooter.

Since then, Gagner has gone three for 18 in shootout attempts, which is roughly half the NHL average (which normally sits just above the 32% mark). But it hasn’t seemed to matter – first MacTavish, then Quinn and now Tom Renney have continually put Sam Gagner’s name on the board as one of their first three shooters.

I’m asking for it to stop. He’s had 35 shots, he’s scored eight goals, and we can all be fairly sure that he’s a below-average shootout option.

Who should the Oilers use instead? I’m glad that I’m pretending you’ve asked, because it fits nicely with the handy chart of career shootout effectiveness coming up next (minimum five attempts):

Player Attempts Goals Success Rate
Shawn Horcoff 17 9 52.94%
Ales Hemsky 48 16 33.33%
Gilbert Brule 11 3 27.27%
Sam Gagner 35 8 22.86%
Dustin Penner 9 1 11.11%

Shawn Horcoff, when healthy, should be the top shootout option for Tom Renney. He isn’t fancy, but he’s been highly effective when used and that’s the most important thing. Ales Hemsky’s an average shootout option and a respectable choice, while a goal on Gilbert Brule’s next shootout attempt would make him a league-average shooter.

It’s the players who have gotten less use that are more interesting. Taylor Hall’s gone two-for-two to date, while fellow rookie Jordan Eberle has gone one for three. Magnus Paajarvi failed on his lone attempt, while somehow Andrew Cogliano has only taken two shots in a little over three seasons. On defence, Ryan Whitney has scored once on three attempts, while Kurtis Foster has been blanked twice and Tom Gilbert three times.

Based on all that, my personal shootout rotation would be something along the lines of this:

  1. Shawn Horcoff
  2. Taylor Hall
  3. Jordan Eberle
  4. Ales Hemsky
  5. Magnus Paajarvi
  6. Andrew Cogliano
  7. Gilbert Brule
  8. Ryan Whitney

Naturally, I’d pay some attention to who was having a good night, but those are the eight I would lean on, at least until we get a better idea of how good some of the rookies are.

But even if there’s disagreement on the rotation, it is time to take Sam Gagner (and for that matter, Dustin Penner) out of it. They’re good players, but their skills lie elsewhere.

  • Dan the Man

    It seems like there has been a lot of situations lately where guys aren’t even getting shots on net in shootouts.

    I get that the ice isn’t always great but even a bad shot is better than no shot. Some guys just need to simplify things like Horcoff does in shoot outs.

  • Jordan Eberle should not only shoot first in the shootout rotation, he should also go in goal for the Oilers.

    One goal for – zero goals against. That’d be our Jordan Eberle in the shootout.

  • Well in the name of ELPH I say keep him in the shootout. That way he will improve, and we will lose. Not that I believe in ELPH, I want to WIN…. But if we are gonna lose, we may as well do it right.

  • Brownlee loves the word meow


    After a long and torturous mission to include a bearded man in my profile pic to better reflect my appearance as a Team FIST member…Much to my delight I found a picture of myself with my cat beard.

    *called out as a fraud for saying it took along time after the first person to read this googled “cat beard” and saw that it was in fact the FIST image that comes up*

  • Without Horc and Hemmer in the lineup Gags is a top 4 option every night (behind Eberle, Hall, and whoever is hottest that night). Sure, Gags has tendencies in the shootout – doesn’t every body? I am reminded here of how often Ray Ferraro would predict the move of the shooter based on his scouting report, particularly Red Wings shooters. A report that was probably given to him by one of the Oilers’ goalies. I say this because against Hiller on Tues. I think 90% of the guys decided to shoot, the exception being PRV. Now, seeing that we went 1/10 that night, and Hiller looked to be the least surprised guy in the building whenever a Copper and Blue clad skater came bearing down on him, my gut tells me that Hiller knew his book. Adjustments need to be made by everybody and good on PRV for being creative.
    I guess what I’m trying to say is that even though the stats say Sammy is struggling in the shootout the stats don’t tell us why his numbers are down. Sometimes it’s puck-luck (like one poster mentioned rather astutely), other times it’s good reads by a goaltender, and still other times it’s bad advice. Sammy is a slick player and deserves to be a top 4 shooter every Shootout regardless of his career averages. Also, the Ducks’ players career numbers were sick! – every shooter, it seemed, was over 35%. I thought Khabby kept us in there for longer than we should’ve been anyway.

  • Wow – I knew that Horc had a pretty good record, but I had no idea it was that good.

    If you watch Horc’s move in the shootout, though, you can see why. That cross-ice, get-the-goalie-moving-laterally move is one that’s used by most of the best shootout-ists, including Horc.

    And I agree – either Samwise starts working some new moves in the driveway next summer or he gets pulled off of the shootout special team (and let’s face it, it’s a special team just like the PP and PK).

  • So 89 is 8/35 in the SO and I believe he was four for his first six, wasn’t he? If not it was four for his first seven because I remember he broke out some sweet moves and it was all the rage.

    But what have you done for me lately, kid? Not a go**damn thing and yet they keep trotting him out there.

    I love the kid and he’s really turning into a good two-way play but I wish the 89 in the SO insanity would stop.

  • D-Man

    @ Willis

    Really?? A defenseman before Sam Gagner??… You’ll get no arguments from me in regards to your top 5 choices, but going solely on stats is a bit ridiculous…

    I recall a couple of Olympics ago when Marc Crawford in his infinite wisdom chose to send out Ray Bourque (because he won the most accurate shot contest at the all star game a couple times in a row) over a certain player many would argue was the greatest player to ever play the game… I know – an “apple and oranges” comparison but Gagner IMO would still have a better chance of scoring that Whitney… I’d be looking for Gags on the bench for the #7th shot… Cogs would drop to 8 and Brule to six…

  • 24% body fat

    Even if the oilers get Couterier he is two or three years away from line one center, and if Sam keeps playing the way he does than he will be number one until than. Dont think this draft seems as talented in the top range as the last couple years. So who knows, Couterier may only be a 50pt powerforward. Until he is a superstar lets keep faith in the players we have. MPS and TH are still teenagers and have a few years to develop. Samwise and jordan Clutch are a little older and are in there crucial years for development. We need to stand by them and give them confidence. And no one is hard on eberle cause he is a rookie. However he is only a few months younger than sam and has been shelter a lot more. Sam was on a terrible team playing second and first line center as an 18 year old. Jordan was allowed to dominate at a more confortable level.

  • 24% body fat

    We should send out Theo Peckham, Steve McIntyre and Zack Stortini. I’m not saying they’ll score but it would be entertaining. Shootout Sam’s moves were fresh when he broke into the league and now they’re as old as the fruitcake your grandma is going to send you this christmas along with that $13 dollar cheque.

    Shootouts are stupid so why not make the look stupid by sending out three guys who couldn’t stick handle in a pee wee game.