With Ales Hemsky and Taylor Hall on the sidelines, someone will need to fill the offensive void, and considering we are in March, Sam Gagner is the most likely candidate. In this first three seasons, Gagner proved he was much better in the 2nd half of the season than he was in the first.

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In Gagner’s first three seasons he was much more productive in the latter part of the season, scoring 77 points in the 2nd half compared to 54 in the first, and I’m not sure there is any defining reason why.


I have broken the season into the first 41 games the team played, not Gagner.

                                 GP      G        A       PTS
FIRST HALF—       39       3        13       16      0.41 PPG
SECOND HALF—  40       10      23       33       0.82 PPG

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                                 GP      G        A       PTS
FIRST HALF—       38       4        12       16     0.41 PPG
SECOND HALF—  38       12      13       25     0.66 PPG


                                 GP      G        A       PTS
FIRST HALF—       40       8        14       22      0.55 PPG 
SECOND HALF—   28       7        12       19      0.68 PPG


                                 GP      G        A       PTS    
FIRST HALF—       41      10      16       26       0.63 PPG
SECOND HALF—   25      5        11       16       0.64 PPG

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2011 was Gagner’s best first half ever, and so far he is maintaing a consistent scoring pace throughout the season.

In his rookie season his numbers spiked because he got more comfortable with the NHL, and with all the injuries he got more ice time. But what about the other years?

2008: First half he averaged 14:46/game and in the 2nd half he was up to 17:09/game.

2009: First half he averaged 16:28/game and 17:04/game in the second half, which is about a half a shift more per game.

2010: He played more in the first half 16:33/game compared to 15:08/game in the 2nd half, but was he was more productive with less TOI.

2011: He had 18:22/game in the first 41 games, but he’s down to 16:40 in the last 25 games with no dip in his production.

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Gagner’s first season seems like an anomoly, because in the the three subsequent seasons his point production doesn’t balance out with increased icetime, in fact, in the final two years, he has been more productive in the 2nd half with less ice time. Gagner did get more PP time in the 2nd half of his rookie season, but the other years his PP time has been pretty much the same.

As Gagner wraps up his fourth NHL season, I don’t see how anyone can say with certainty what his point total average or ceiling will be in the future. Some guys develop slower, while others are productive earlier in their career and manage to maintain it for 10-15 years. I’m not surprised that Gagner is more productive with less ice time. He isn’t a big guy and since his skating his average; if he is fatigued, his skating dips even more, and he is less effective.

If Gagner finishes strong in the final 16 games, don’t get fooled into thinking he will automatically continue that next season, because history shows he is more effective in the final half of every season.

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Okay, it isn’t an exactly the 23rd Psalm, but tonight the Oilers start what has to be the toughest four game road trip they’ve ever been on. They face four of the top five teams in the NHL starting in Philly, then to Washington, into Detroit and wrapping up in Pittsburgh. What makes it even more difficult is they lost their three best forwards in the last week, yet somehow they are 3-0.

The will face an angry and struggling Flyers team this evening. The Flyers have lost four straight and got embarrassed on national TV on Sunday, getting spanked 7-0 by the Rangers. You can expect the Flyers to be fired up, so the Oilers will need to be ready from the opening faceoff or they will be bombarded by the Flyers.


The Oilers are in the midst of their best streak of the season, winning seven of ten, but some in Oilersnation are a tad concerned that all this good play will ruin their shot at the 1st or 2nd pick at the draft. After suffering through five months of horrendous hockey, it makes no sense to go on a winning streak now and thwart their chances at the top pick. Thankfully, for those who want Stu "The Magnificent Bastard" MacGregor to get to the first pick,  the Oilers will return to their losing ways this week, and by Sunday you’ll be happy to know that with only 12 games to go the Oilers will be back in 30th.

Miracles have happened before: The run to the 2006 Cup, my buddy Hutch getting married, Phoenix having a sellout, the Bills making the playoffs, Brule playing 20 consecutive games, going a day without hearing a Charlie Sheen reference or Tom Gilbert playing physical. Sure, it has happened, and sure the Oilers could win two of their next four, but those types of miracles are rare. Enjoy getting back to ELPH.



GAME DAY PREDICTION: Philly will come out flying and the Oilers will be down early. They will battle back to make it respectable, but they’ll drop a 5-3 decision.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Human Rake, Chris Pronger, will take two high sticking or cross-checking penalties and the Nation will be flooded with I hate Pronger comments. The tall, lanky gap-toothed D-man can still ignite the ire of Oiler fans and tonight it will be on full display.

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Prior to the game Jeff Reese, the Flyers goaltending coach, will chat with his former  Stanley Cup winning teammate, Nikolai Khabibulin. Reese will hand him the scouting report on the Washington Capital shooters, who Khabibulin will face tomorrow night. While sitting on the bench Khabibulin will be watching the game and studying the tendancies of Ovechkin, Semin and Backstrom.

The camera will zoom in on him in the 3rd and he will have his eyes closed, head tilted back while visualizing stoning Ovechkin….We’ll have to wait until tomorrow to see if his extra preparation pays off…

  • a lg dubl dubl

    JG, would you compare Samwise to Doug Weight or in his early 20’s before he turned into the player he is now, before DW’S injurys that last few seasons.

    I hope ST doesn’t trade Gag’s anytime soon.

    • Jason Gregor

      The reality is comparables are essentially a shot in the dark. Doug Weight scored 104 points, I’d be stunned if Gagner ever does that, because the reality is only three or four guys do that every year.

      No one, myself included, knows how good Gagner MIGHT become, but I can safely say his game will never resemble Mike Richard’s. Any comparison of the two is completely off-base, regardless of age or games played.

  • People opposed to dealing Gagner need to understand 2 things:

    1. Trading him is not necessarily the same as ‘giving up on him’.
    2. IF you trade him, its either: a) in a package for a star player that fits in age-wise (ie:Stastny); or b) for another player that is similarly young & talented, but likely plays a different position & fills a need (ie: Bogosian).

    **Those 2 names were used because they’ve been the most mentioned here in recent times, however, you can insert any other name you feel fits.**

    • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

      I don’t think anyone really disagrees with the above.

      What people disagree with is comments like “the team will never win with him on the roster” or someone like “Lander is going to replace him”

  • O.C.

    Where is the love for Gagner?

    He’s a second line centre that is scoring at clip .25 points per game behind the esteemed Richards, and equal to or better than many other team’s first line centres.

    (Do a stat search on Centres – he’s firmly slotted at 33 in a 30 team league on a 30th place team as the second line centre.)

    Now I gotta get Iginla to help me with my work.

  • a lg dubl dubl

    Thanks Jason, I don’t think Sam will ever get to 104 points either unless he’s on the same line as Hall and he gets 200 lol, but I could see him getting close to 80 points in his prime which i don’t think he’s there just yet, it would be another sad day in Oiltown if ST decides to trade him. Your right the Richards comparison is way off…way way off.

  • Jason Gregor

    I find myself always cheering for Giroux for a weird reason. Even when he was in Washington I always wondered why he wasnt up playing with the team. I think the Oilers should really leave him up with the big club for the rest of the year (unless the Barons need him for a playoff push) and send down Omark. Giroux could bring that verteran presence (even tho he has only played a handful of games in the show) the kids could benefit from. He is also alot more physical on the forecheck and using his body to protect the puck then in preseason earlier this year. I think the Oil should keep him with the bigs next year and maybe he can catch fire like he has every year that he has played in the AHL. Horcoff Giroux Jones would be a decent 3rd line for a team like the Oilers.

  • O.C.


    “~ Why is Phil Kessel doing Sport Select commercials? ~”

    Good question, an Active American Born Hockey Player marketing a Canadian Legalized Bookie Lottery???

    Pete Rose n/a?


    Spezza on the spiral too. Ottawa shoulda moved him.

  • Wax Man Riley

    On another note…check out Cloutier’s Blog on Hockey Buzz. I usually don’t like his blogs very much, but this is a good point about the new arena and the current one that IMHO is Mickey Mouse, much like Northlands.

    I have dealt with Northlands a lot over the last 12 years or so, and also many other organizers in other cities (Calgary, Vancouver, Toronto, Winnipeg, London Ont., Thunder Bay etc…) and although they have stepped it up a little in the last couple years, usually they have a very small town, podunk feel, that I’m sure comes from the fact that there is no other game in town. I would like to see a new entertainment district without them involved.

  • Kodiak

    Really not a bad hockey game. We got dominated in the first but carried the bulk of the play through the last 2 periods.

    It was a game I didn’t mind watching on our way back to 30th place!! ELPH!!

  • MLAC 77

    I cant believe you guys that spend so much time on watching this game cant realize that the reason why Gagner does so well in the second half of the season: HERE IT IS….. The oilers havent been even close to a playoff spot in any of those three years. He produces like many of the oilers when the games have no meaning or pressure. Part of being a good NHL pro is producing when your team needs you and that is definitely what Gags does not do. Will he ? Maybe but till now he only goes on runs when the games have no meaning.

  • DoubleJ

    Best case scenario is LA misses playoffs and ends up in 10th and Calgary in 9th.

    Lets hope for Minni beats Colorado in a shoot out. If Nashville and Florida wins it will be a good day for the lottery and LA’s pick gets better.

  • DoubleJ

    The comparison of Gagner to Richards is fine, in this respect: Just because we make a comparison of a single attribute of 2 players, doesn’t mean we are saying they are the SAME player, just that they are similar in one respect, so lay off Crash.
    Here is the comparison, for you who lack any knowledge of literary comparison:
    Gagner and Richards are similar in the sense that, at a young age, neither was fully developed. Whoa! I just blew your minds.

    Here is another example of comparison, in case you need it: Simmonds and Iginla are similar in that both are African American in descent. Now, hold on, we are not saying they are exactly the same player Gregor, so don’t jump on us. They have a similar characteristic. I hope this makes it simple enough to understand.
    And btw, you have no idea if Gagner will be on the 2014 Olympic team. Nobody does, so why bring that up?

    • Jason Gregor

      You think he is even on the list of potential guys? Seriously he wouldn’t even be in top ten centres. And suggesting that no one does, means you just don’t want to see the reality; right now and not in the near future will he be an Olympian. Richards was, and what is fair about comparing him to Richards. Their careers when 20? So then why don’t you just compare Gagner to every 20 year old centre? Sorry…I don’t see anything that compares the two.

  • Last year Gagne had to work his way from the fourth line which might explain his second half surge this year again He is earning more ice time. I don,t like his defensive game.But think that might be easier to learn. He is a decent top six forward.

  • Kodiak

    Crash, can you name one forward that has Gagner’s kind of game that is an impact player in the nhl?

    Richards is physical and a 2 way player, Briere is and excellent skater, etc, etc.

    I’ve never been a Gagner fan. He was babied and given preferential treatment by MacT right from the start, with zero accountability. He isn’t physical, fast or good defensively.

    I’ve seen him become a more complete player and have been happy with his overall play this year. I’m not calling for Gagner to be traded, but I just don’t see the upside there that you seem to. I don’t see a skillset that is going to vault him to that next level. His skating won’t, his speed won’t, his physicality won’t, his shooting won’t. He just doesn’t excel in any one area that will get him to that next level.

    • Clyde Frog

      Yet he is producing at .6 ppg high enough to put him in the upper echelon of 2nd line centers.

      Remember what happened last time we drafted solely on size in the expectation we could teach them the game and goal scoring?

      JFJ and Marc Pouliot, Colin Macdonald, jesse niniimaki ring any bells?

      You win games by goals, Gagner is a producer. Regardless of your feelings towards him, would you be happier with .4 ppg and a guy that will go into corners and hit someone?

      • Kodiak

        49, 41, 41, 42 and now on pace for 51 (he still has to do it). There were 55 centers last year that produced .6ppg so I wouldn’t class Gagner as a producer. Brule and Rob Schremp put up .57 last year. Brule, Comrie and Potulny had a better goals/game production for the Oil last year, and the bust Pouliot ws right behind Sammy with limited quality ice time.

        Not sure how drafting falls into this conversation and I’m not going to argue our drafting was brutal for many years.

        Again, I don’t see Gagner having any attributes that would get him from a .6ppg player(15 goals) to a .76ppg player (Mike Richards type production including 30 goals). He’s already getting the glory icetime, soft minutes and PP time.

        Why do I have to trade Gagner’s .6ppg for .4ppg? I think the thought process around here is package Gagner’s soft 50point game, along with another prospect or pick for a 70 point player or a 50 point player who also is physical and/or very good defensively. The argument from the Gagner supporters is he will blossom into a .76ppg player and we will regret that. Looking at his skillset and attributes, I highly doubt that.

        I’m not on the get rid of Gagner bandwagon, but I’d be all for moving him for someone producing at the same level that has more to his game, or someone that legitimately is a producer (30 goals as year instead of Gagner’s 15).

        • Clyde Frog

          55 centres, that is less than 2 per team.

          That puts Gagner’s production right in line with second line centres if you assume the top 30 will be first line players.

          What you just said is at 21 he is producing on a pace the 90% of the teams in this league would be happy to get off a second line centre.

          The point is he doesn’t need to hit a magical .76 ppg total, if he gets .65 or .7 that will place him in the top 45 centres and the upperhalf of second line centres. Hell if he stays as the exact same player he is still qualified for his job on 75%+ of the teams in the NHL at the age of 21!

          Soft minutes, that is what your second line is… The line that forces the opposition into difficult decisions on how to properly play your #1 line. They don’t have a shutdown role like a 3rd and aren’t supposed to just mix stuff up like a 4th. They are supposed to score at a decent rate and pick up the slack when your first is getting shut down.

          The reason I say .4 ppg is we don’t have a magical kid sitting in the wings with size who has shown he can produce at centre at a better clip.

          Name 3 50 point centres with size and grit that you could possibly trade for? A 70 point player with a team is willing to part with for someone other than Hall & Eberle?

          Its easy to forget but you can’t teach scoring in the NHL. We have tried and failed several drafts.

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    I think the main issue with Gagner is how out of whack everyones expectations are for players.

    80 points will likely put you top 6-8 for scoring amoungst centers.

    70 points will likely put you 10 – 15 range for scoring amoungst centers.

    60 points will likely put you in the 20 – 25 range for scoring amoungst centers.

    Hell, 3 former 100+ point guys, Malkin is on a 70 point pace, Joe Thorton is playing at a 68 point pace and Nic Backstrom is on a 66 point pace this season.

    If we’ve got a 60 – 65 point center in 2-3 years, then we’ve got a hell of a 2nd line center. If we can get more then that, then we’ve got an average 1st line center.

    I wonder is fans in Columbus and St Louis make ridiculous statments about Brassard or Berglund, because they are giving their teams almost exactly what Gagner is giving the Oilers.

    The trick isn’t to get rid of Gagner, it’s to add that real live 80 point center that can also match up defensively with the top centers in the league. Then we’ve got something going down the middle.

    • Kodiak

      You are talking about Gagner as if he’s already a 60-65 point center. Maybe, might be and hopefully, but 49, 41, 41, 42 and maybe 50 doesn’t equate to a 65 point player, and his game doesn’t scream potential 65 point player either.

      Gagner in the same sentence as Malkin, Backstrom and Thornton. Hahahahahahahahaha. Good one!!

      Why is it there is always talk about Columbus getting a true centerman for Nash if Brassard is getting the job done or looks like he’ll be able to get the job done? I’m pretty sure this is exactly the talk around Columbus.

      So where are you pulling this 80point center from? The only way you get him is trading Hall. You willing to do that? Got an 80point center tree you going to pick him from? You have to give to get. Give Gagner’s soft 50 points along with something else and get a legit center.

      • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

        Actually I said “IF” and “in 2 – 3 years”. so no, I’m not talking as if he’s already a 60-65 point center.

        I wasn’t comparing him to those guys, I brought them up to show how out of whack everyones expectations are as to what “good” is.

        Simple answer, draft one with our top 2-3 pick this year.

        Good trolling though.

      • Bucknuck

        When they put Gagner and 65 point player in the same sentence they are talking about an IF. When you consider his age as well as his upside (like the long stretches that he can play at a point per game pace when he is on his game) it does in fact scream 65 point player. Particularly if the team around him starts getting better.

        I would be shocked if he didn’t hit 65 points in his career. I would hate to see him get traded, particularly for a pick or something like that. He is the second most productive player (so far) from his draft year. How likely is it that another pick will be more productive. Not so much.

        I’ve seen too many first round picks that sucked: Steve Kelly, Boyd Devereaux, Jason Bonsignore, March Pouliot, Rob Schremp, Riley Nash, Jason Soules, and I am sure there are another few I can’t remember off the top of my head. No more assets with potential for maybe’s.

        • Kodiak

          I props you for this post, but don’t necessarily agree with some of it.

          Those talking about Gagner and 65 points are doing so like he’s a lock to be a 65 pt player. That is far from a lock. That’s 1.5 times what he’s been producing at, which is a big jump. Every player that already scores 65 points goes through stretches where they score at a pace higher than that, but they produce 65 points. Just because Gagner puts up a higher rate of points in stretches doesn’t mean he will be able to continuously do so. His footspeed, shot and lack of physicality limit his production, and unless one of those three changes I can’t see him being able to produce much more.

          Most young players start seeing more PP time and primetime icetime in year 3 and 4 and that is why you see a major jump in production. Gagner has had the PP time and soft minutes already. Don’t expect the 32pt to 75pt jump out of Gagner that Mike Richards had.

          To me its about a lot more than points anyway. Someone scoring 50 points as a second line center that is good defensively and is physical is way more valuable to me than Sam Gagner’s potential 60 soft points. Even a soft center scoring 30 goals and 30 assists is move valuable to me than Sam Gagner’s potential 18 goals and 42 assists.

          I agree, don’t trade Gagner for draft picks. I don’t want to move him for draft picks either. Trade him for Mike Richards instead (or something of that nature anyway).

    • Quicksilver ballet

      I’m not sure you are hearing what everyone else is saying OB1, perhaps it’s your opinion that is way out of whack here.

      Nice collection of dreamy statistics in the middle there.

      If we had that PPG center (which we may have already in Hall) then the Oilers don’t need Gagner as the second line center. The Oilers are going to need a helluva lot more out of that second line center position than what Sam can bring. Other teams centers are licking their chops when they look across and see Gagner. After 4 yrs of this don’t you see he’ll always be reacting to and never dictating what happens on the ice? The kid is and will always be a support player, a top six spot on this club isn’t justified beyond this year. Expect more OB1, not less. All 6 of your buddies even propped that for you eh, Bhaaaaa.

      • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

        Play your little “reacting/dictating” “leader/follower” games you want, it’s all irrelavant.

        All that matters is if he can be part of a line that can outscore the opposition.

  • BurkeTheTurd

    Are you actually comparing Gagner to Richards????????

    I like Gagner but come on. Richards led his team to cup final, helped win WJC, Olympic Gold, memorial cup winner, and Selke Finalist. Thats a pretty tough resume to compare any NHL player too.

    He is one of the best PK in the league, one of the best young leaders and one of the best pound for pound hitters in the game.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    This Gagner vs Richards discussion has been a good example of many differences that set these two players apart. The elements that Mike has in his game is the difference in being a first line center, Sam will be fortunate to hold a second line center job on any team for an extended period of time. One plays like he’s 6.2 and the other plays like he’s 5.9.

    Sam will go on and have a lengthy NHL career, there’s little doubt that Gagner doesn’t have in him what it takes to get to that next level like Mike did. Mike and Sam may have similar height and playing weight but that’s where the comparisons end.

    Gagner, Deslaurier and the Kings first for a second shot in the top five this summer.