PLAY IT AGAIN, SAM

A lot of people out there believe the trade of Andrew Cogliano improves the chances prospect Ryan Nugent-Hopkins will earn a roster spot with the Edmonton Oilers this coming season. No poop, Sherlock.

The obvious aside, I’m of the mind jettisoning Cogliano to Anaheim and losing one body in a cluttered corps of centres coincides with cranking up the heat on Sam Gagner, given the timing and the pace of his own career path. As it should.

The topic of Gagner, entering his fifth NHL season with the Oilers, is a polarizing issue around here, to be sure. Some readers at ON wear pajamas adorned by a Gagner name bar. Others, many of them in that first group, believe it’s only a matter of time until he becomes a 65-70 point player, a bonafide first-line pivot. "Hey, look at these numbers . . ."

At the opposite end of the spectrum, critics of the former London Knight insist he’ll never amount to much. They say Sam-I-Am was a so-so pick in a pedestrian 2007 draft class. They say he’s soft, relatively slow of foot for a little guy, pensive with the puck and, given the past two seasons, less than durable. Trade his backside, the sooner the better.

Those in the middle, a chunk of real estate I stand on, are neither overjoyed or displeased with this first 291 NHL games. So far, so good. OK. He looks like a second-line centre, a 50-55 point guy — maybe 60 when Edmonton’s power play eventually comes out of its coma.

Given where the Oilers are in this rebuild fans are being sold and where No. 89 is in his career, I’m thinking the 2011-12 season is a pretty good time for Gagner to lend some clarity, to give us an idea which camp has it right and where he fits, or doesn’t, moving forward.

WHAT’S IT GOING TO BE?

Gagner, who will be 22 when the season starts, sits eyeball-to-eyeball with Shawn Horcoff atop the depth chart at centre going into training camp. Below Gagner and Horcoff sit Eric Belanger, Anton Lander, Gilbert Brule, Chris Vandevelde and Ryan O’Marra.

After scoring 49 points in 79 games as an 18-year-old rookie, Gagner put up 41 points in 76 games, 41 points in 68 games and 42 points in 68 games last season, a campaign cut short by a lacerated hand caused by Ryan Jones skate blade on the bench.

So, how does Gagner project from this point forward? Truth to be told, whether you’re pouring over advanced stats, rolling dice or reading the tea leaves, you’re guessing. I can’t say for sure and neither can you. Only Gagner can.

What’s obvious, though, is that if he’s going to give us, not to mention Oilers management, a clue, if he’s going to establish himself as a needed piece of the puzzle moving forward — I think becoming a solid second-line guy would qualify as that — the time is right.

Might Gagner do that? Absolutely. In terms of potential, might he be passed by Nugent-Hopkins in the hearts and minds of fans, and on the depth chart, this season? That’s a possibility, too.

The trade of Cogliano aside, it’s time for Gagner to provide all three camps, and the team that signs his pay cheques, with an indication which way it’s going to go.

HE SAID WHAT?

Oilers Lunch host Bob Stauffer, never shy about offering his opinion, apparently doesn’t have any doubt whatsoever Nugent-Hopkins will spent the upcoming season on the Oilers roster.

Bombastic Bob was throwing around some numbers, points totals, on today’s edition of the show and he has Nugent-Hopkins pegged for 60 points this season. He had Jordan Eberle at 60 and Taylor Hall at 65.

Hell, if we can get Stauffer in on the 2011-12 edition of the Lucky 13 Pool here at Oilersnation, he might blow his brains out worse than I did last season.

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.

  • positivebrontefan

    Crash, have you watched an Oiler game over the past 4 years. Defending Sam in that manner just makes you lose credibility. His footspeed and lack of strength and faceoff ability is borderline offensive.

    • Crash

      Says you…he’s 21 freakin yrs old…he’s held his own quite well in his so far “short” career. His 21 yr old numbers are better than many and I mean many of today’s star players when they were 21 yrs old.

      I go to all the home games and watch all the other ones…Gagner’s not a speedburner, so what…how is it that my saying he’s becoming a leader and he works his ass off losing credibility? Because you say it?

      Again, he’s 21 yrs old…can he not get better once prime age comes along? I suggest he can and most likely will in all aspects, including FO%. It’s not a stretch to suggest either.

      Here’s a few names for you…have a look at their numbers at age 21….you’d probably have given up on these losers too at age 21:

      Daniel Sedin 32, Henrik Sedin 36, Jarome Iginla 51, Henrik Zetterberg 44, Patrick Marleau 52, Ryan Kesler 23, Claude Giroux 47, Loui Eriksson 19, Bobby Ryan 57 , Patrick Sharp 0, Mike Ribeiro 18, Corey Perry 44, Thomas Vanek 48, Mike Richards 32, Jeff Carter 37, Daniel Briere 22….the list goes on and on.

      This is what all of these players produced for points at age 21…would you have given up on all of these guys too?

      • Paajarvi had 34 points last year, I wouldn’t give up on him in a second because he has potential and offers alot of different skills. Same with the players you mentioned, in their earlier years they had a skill set that would evolve as they gained experience. If all they had was hockey sense and were weak, slow and couldn’t win a draw I would trade them while I could and get some return for them.

        It’s just my opinion but I think Gagner has or is close to peaking. He’s been in the league 4 years but hasn’t improved in my opinion. Other young players typically improve year after year but I just don’t see that room for growth in Sam. We’ll see whose right a couple years down the road.

        • Crash

          I find it hard to fathom that a 21 yr old player has peaked, especially one that has compiled 173 points…I guess there are examples of guys fading after their early years but most players have their better seasons age 24 to 32. You don’t accumulate 173 NHL points by luck.

          Yes we will see who is right a couple of years down the road….

          I’d like him to still be here when we find out.

          • oilnik

            I like Gagner and hope that he is here when he “breaks out”.

            However I seem to remember you saying something about how Stanley Cup winning teams seem to have at most 1 small top 2 center… we now have potentially 2 small top 2 centers.

            So knowing the history and the stats… what do we do? I’m not saying give up on Gagner but we have RNH who will be in the NHL either this year or next year.

            We have Horcoff, Lander, Belanger as well. something has to give, maybe it’s moving one of them to the wings.

            But in the end it will ultimately come down to either Gagner or RNH at center for the Oilers… If we want to be a Stanley Cup winning team that is.

          • Crash

            Wasn’t me who said anything about Stanley Cup winning teams having at most 1 small top 2 center…I guess the arguement now is what is small and what isn’t.

            RNH will likely end up playing at 6’1″ and probably around 190lbs.

            I believe a list was supplied during this blog (post# 207) of some Stanley cup winning teams that have had more than 1 smallish type centers in their lineup including this years champs.

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    My personal opinion is that out of the forward group, Gagner is the weak link. The quality of players in our organization is improving, we have a spot for Sam for one more season but beyond that is very iffy. Hopefully he puts up 50+ points to increase his trade value, another GM might be fooled and think he is a good player.

    • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

      I can see where people are coming from on this, however when I look at our depth chart and factor in Horcoff and Belangers age I see the need for 4 proven superior centers before Gagner gets bumped.

      Right now we’ve got 0 of those 4.

      • D-Man

        You’re right – but I would argue that we have 2 proven centers that are/should be in the #3 (Horcoff) and #4 (Belanger) slots on our depth chart… We don’t have a proven #1 or #2 center.. Right now, Gags is on the verge of becoming a solid #2. He’s has a better offensive upside that Horc or Belanger. He also has a huge compete level; he gets knocked off the puck because of his size and not because of his heart. He’s here to stay until we can draft better options… RNH has promise, but is a rookie…

        The thought of trading a 22 year old who’s averaged 40 points a season (which was better than Joe Thorton’s first 4 years mind you) right now is ludicrous. Until we draft another bonafide #1/#2 center – Gags is a decent option to play between Hemsky and Smyth this year – IMO.

          • positivebrontefan

            Why 1-2 years for Belanger? Horcoff is injury-prone, so I get that, but why Belanger?
            He’s only in his early 30’s, and had a great year last year (>50% on faceoffs, 40 points). He doesn’t have a history of injuries does he?

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

            He’ll be 34 in a few months.

            Hey he’ll probably be able to play this contract out, but by 36 I don’t expect him to be much more then a 13th forward by then.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Sometimes the best deal to be had is to not make a deal.

    I was all for moving out Gagner last year as well, but with a much stronger supporting cast around him this season we’ll see a different 89 this season. If he can stay healthy this yr i think he’s good for 60 pts. I’m looking forward to seeing what he can do with a better top 6 to go with a better bottom 6 around him this season.

  • 21 years of age and he won’t improve. This statement is a juxtaposition. 4 years means heck all especially on a team that got worse and worse over his four years in the league, i don’t think his offensive production stayed the same.

    I’m not about to give up on him but he does need to take it to the next level or else options are going to be explored.

    Go Sammy! Prove your doubters wrong, I’m counting on you!

  • Great comments

    I dont have much to add, only about size. If size is what wins cups then how come the legion of dome never won a cup?

    They were very talented, the best power forward center… maybe ever!

    there all other aspects yes, and thats what we should be talking about, what other aspects does Gagner have?

    Great post’s by the way.

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    10/11 Boston won with Bergeron 6’1 190, Krjci 6 178, Marchand 5’9 190

    08/09 Det won with Datsyuk 5’11 197, Zetterberg 6 190, Filpula 6 189

    02/03 NJ won with Gomez 5’11 200, Madden 5’11 190, Nieuwendyk 6’1 195

    01/02 Wings won with 6’1 200 Fedorov/Yzerman 5’11 185/Larianov 5’9 170

    00/01 Avs won with Sakic 5’11 185/Forsberg 6 205/Drury 5’10 1985

    last 10 cup winners, 5 teams with below average sized centers.

    Satisfied yet?

    • Bergeron per Bruins 6’2″ 194

      Datsyuk 5’11” 197 – stout, not small, like Crosby. No wonder he’s so tough (remember the fight?)

      Nieuwendyk – feature player here, not small

      Fedorov – not small, Lari and Yzer are generational talents, not a good example

      Sakic – generational talent, Forsberg not small, in fact a power forward.

      So in fact, as you have shown with Datsyuk being bigger than I thought, there are no teams with two small (under 6′ and 195 say) centres 1-2 at all in your list.

      Not that small players can’t be good, just two small centres as your 1-2 is likely bad.

      Perhaps everyone is over-reacting to the words here – “small” and “bigger”.

      I never said anywhere that we need hulking giant cavemen. As my name says, speed is king for me. It’s just that really small as your top 2 C is likely a problem (especially when one is slow), and as far as I can see, hasn’t worked anywhere else.

      And with that, I have to embark on a trip, so I’ll check back for the insults later, come up with some good ones boys!

      Kirk out.

  • Robin has the Radio deal with 630 CHED been finalized? Also do we know when OilersLunch is moving over to 630 CHED? Also hypotheticaly. What happens to this team in the fall if both RNH and Lander prove that they are ready for the NHL?

  • Kodiak

    I think the main point is if you are a small player, you better excel at something. Of all the listed small centers on Cup teams, all are better skaters than Gagner and most are a lot more physical than Gagner as well. Gagner doesn’t have the skating/skillset of any of the players listed by OB1.

    You can’t be small and slow/soft. Gagner is.

          • Kodiak

            Disagree. Sam will never be a great skater. He’s worked on his skating for 20 years and the last 4 or 5 with highly regarded skating coaches to get where he’s at now. It’s not going to improve enough to make a difference now. I’d bet 99.9% of great skaters in the league were above average on draft day.

          • Kodiak

            Haven’t had your morning coffee yet Arch? Let me put it another way for you. The vast majority of great skaters in the NHL were probably very good skaters by the time they were drafted.

            If 20% of players in the league are great skaters, 99.9% of those 20% were above average skaters by the time they were drafted.

            Do you understand my point now? Gagner was a below average skater on draft day and no one should expect him to end up being a great skater in the NHL. It just isn’t realistic.

          • Did you add the word “great” afterwards or was I still half-asleep when I replied? No matter. I see your point as it is now and I tend to agree. Solid coaching can make a good skater an excellent skater, but it cant turn him into Paul Coffey.

            I dont think Gagner was ever deemed a below average skater. Just Average. Truly below average skaters dont get taken that high in the draft.

            From Central Scouting in his draft year, “a good skater, but needs to work on his acceleration and mobility… needs to improve his ability to fight through checks.” Seems reasonably close to your complaints now minus the hyperbole that he is a below average skater.

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

            So what you are saying is that the human body hits peak physical performance with little to no room for improvement at 21?

            Interesting.

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

            Good one.

            You said “It’s not going to improve enough to make a difference now”… I don’t know what other conclusion I can draw from that statement.

            Unless you are saying Gagner and Gagner alone can’t improve past the age of 21.

          • Kodiak

            Not improving at all is a lot different than not improving enough to become an upper echelon skater.

            On a scale of 1-10, let’s say elite skaters are a 8+ and average skaters rank a 5. For arguments sake let’s say Gagners skating was average, a 5 when he was drafted. With 4 years in the league working with skating guru’s his skating has improved to a 6 or 6.5. At this stage in his career do you really think he can improve his skating to an 8?

            I just looked at the top 100 scoring centers in the league last year and there is no doubt over half of them are better skaters than Gagner.

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

            I think he can improve enough to “make a difference” without becoming an upper echelon skater. Ie if he went from a 6 to a 7 in the skating department it would likely make him a significantly better player…. just to quantify, add an extra 10 points for example.

            Also, deciding where he sits in terms of skating vs the top 100 scoring centers is guess work and quite frankly it’s impossible to prove either way.

          • Clyde Frog

            You are right. It’s just that after 4 years he hasn’t really changed or improved very much.

            I don’t think development means the player gains a new game. It means they learn the tempo, what is going on, and stop making mistakes.

            Has Hemsky had his breakout year? No, and he won’t. He has always played the same, just gained confidence and learned the ropes. He still doesn’t protect himself and gets hurt.

            Hemsky came in blazing fast with mad skills. Gagner will stay the same as he is, getting a little better each year. There will not likely be new aspects to his game, he is a known quantity now.

            Players should be drafted based on what skills they when drafted, because basically, that’s where they’ll remain.

            Sakic’s draft card which was on this site, LT or CB (can’t find it) read that he excelled at all the skills in junior that he did in the NHL. He had them down already, as it should be. RNH is much closer to that than Sam.

          • Yes. Last season Sam Gagner was 48th in points and 49th in points per game in the NHL last year FOR CENTERS ONLY. Thusly meaning that out of 100, almost 50 centres were better in the art of scoring last season. Has he plateaued? I hope not, but if he has then he has established himself as a 2C scoring option. Not the top end of the 2C pack by any means, but still a legit NHL 2C.

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

            Kodiak, I’ve spent the first part of the morning at work reading your comments and all I have to say your assessment of Gagner is 100% accurate.

          • Eddie Shore

            Why does he need to become an “upper echelon” skater? What or who would you consider “upper echelon”? How many of those players do you think exist throughout the league?

          • Kodiak

            Because he doesn’t have the size to compete otherwise. There was great debate about teams being successful with small centers. The few teams that were successful, their small centers possessed upper level skating.

            I don’t have issue with Gagner’s size if he had the skating to offset it, but being a soft, smaller player with average speed isn’t a combination for success.

          • Eddie Shore

            I’d argue his numbers in his first four years; despite being thrown in over his head, despite being on the worst team in the league, despite going through 3 coaches in 4 years, despite being barely old enough to drink in the USA, say otherwise.

          • Kodiak

            If you call 40-50 points without bringing a physical or defensive game to the table a success then I guess you are right.

            Regardless of his past history, how is he going to improve his production? Through his skating? His physical play? His faceoff prowess? Everyone keeps sugguesting he is going to boost his production, but how? What is untapped about his game that will translate into more points? What attributes does he have that he hasn’t exploited already?

            You say his past suggests he will be successful but I think it suggests otherwise. He has continually produced when the season is a write off, when it doesn’t matter. His 5 GWG’s over 4 seasons show that too. I agree with FastOil that players like Gagner usually get eaten alive in the playoffs when the going gets tough. With average speed and no physical game its tough to be effective when the stakes are raised and time and space disappear.

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

            “Regardless of his past history, how is he going to improve his production?”

            As usual you ignore the counter argument.

            He can improve his production by improving his skill sets and phisical strength and speed…. which for the most part seems to be the norm for young players.

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

            Or, maybe we’re putting our hopes on Gagner becoming *stronger* and *faster* then he currently is, making it easier for him to climb to the top of the 2nd line center production range, where he could be a very valuable piece of a contending team.

          • Regardless of his past history, how is he going to improve his production? Through his skating? His physical play? His faceoff prowess? Everyone keeps sugguesting he is going to boost his production, but how? What is untapped about his game that will translate into more points? What attributes does he have that he hasn’t exploited already?

            This comment makes absolutely no sense at all. I can’t find a logical thread to follow.

            Following your premise suggests the opposite of your conclusion.

          • Eddie Shore

            I had a few for lunch so maybe I’m out of it but that comment seems perfectly logical to me?
            I think what he’s trying to say is Gagner’s room for growth is limited, people were also saying that in his draft year.

          • Towards your point that Gagner doesnt produce when things matter I direct you to this article by Willis.

            http://oilersnation.com/2011/7/6/edmonton-oilers-clutch-scoring-2010-11

            You’ll find the opposite is true. You can claim that as a 2nd half player for the Oilers the season is already out of hand, but it’s better than being a 1st half player on a Cup contender any day of the week. And broken down from an in-game perspective, as Willis did in the article, Gagner seems to be just fine when the chips are down.

          • Kodiak

            Quoting Johnathan Willis at the end of his article, “As far as I can tell, there’s absolutely no value in this sort of study, at least over a single season.”

            Gagner has 5 GWGs in 4 seasons(Eberle had 5 this season). Hes 0 for 12 in shootouts the last two seasons. He is known to be a late season scorer when there is no pressure.

            I stand by my premise he does not produce when things matter.

          • If we apply the same principle to other players then there’s a long list of good hockey players who do a whole lot of good work on garbage teams and therefore must be performing only because “the pressure is off”.

            You’re performing admirably here at twisting the fact that a player is a good second half producer into a damnation of his character. At the end of the day though, it’s just twisting a statistical oddity into something unrealisticly sinister.

            How can a guy who is so focused on possible playoff performance be worried about a player’s shootout record? It will, at most, rarely come up as an opportunity to affect an NHL playoff game.

          • Clyde Frog

            On a nroaml team second half production would be a good trait.

            On the Oilers lately it means you played well after it was already too late. On the Oilers, first half production shows mettle, when the fight is actually happening.

          • I’m sorry…did you just use the “no value” quote to contradict Arch and then try to use essentially the same type of information to “prove” your own point?

            This is getting stranger and stranger each time I come back.

          • Kodiak

            Willis article is using only one season’s stats, which even Willis admits is too small a sample size. I used his career GWG and two seasons worth of shootout stats. I’m sorry if you are unable see the difference.

            Instead of chirping from the peanut gallery why don’t you bring something hockey related to show me why and how Gagner will be a legitimate 2nd line center that will be productive when it counts and come playoff time.

            Or you guys can keep spewing the “he will improve his skating and strength and that will translate into more points” line even though no one has a clue if that will happen. I’ve given my reasons why i think he won’t but all I’m getting in return is that he will/should with no backing behind it..

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

            And all you are giving is that he won’t/shouldn’t.

            It’s impossible for anyone to know if he’s going to get stronger and faster. Alot of it will depend on how much work he’s willing to put in.

          • I’m sorry if you are unable see the difference.

            Of course I see the difference. The problem here is that you see neither the similarity in the type of numbers examined, nor the irony in your argument.

            Willis was using a worthless stat and you responded to it by using even more worthless, compounding the oddity by ignoring their close relation to the stats you just discounted. It’s very strange.

            Game winning goals and 2 seasons of shootouts? Really? Why only 2 seasons of shootouts? Is it just because it doesn’t look as good when you use all four? What value do game winning goals have? At least the study Willis did tried to account for game situation.

            I’m trying to point out the complete lack of any logic in your position. If you want to simply say that your opinion is that he will never be any good…I can accept that.

            If you’re going to tell me things like “he will never be any good because he doesn’t have enough game winning goals and missed all his latest shootout attempts,” I have no choice but to point out the obvious.

  • Eddie Shore

    I think Gagner’s skating ability, or lack there of, is waaaay overblown on here. He isn’t holding up the play, or having the play pass him by. He may not be the quickest skater on the team but I don’t think his skating is a big issue at all.

    @ Kodiak

    You are entitled to your opinion but if every player drafted was an average or above average skater, teams wouldn’t need skating coaches or hold development camps. And to say that skating can’t be improved on over time is so far from the truth it’s embarassing.

  • Kodiak

    Under the poorest conditions over last 4 seasons and mates to develop under with overall size being a major drawback as well – Cogs , Brule and Gagner fared less than anticipated . Conditions have now improved all around the team and this year should be more indicative of where they stand in a much better working conditions/ environment ! Improvement should be seen in all of them . How much improvement is pure speculation until final roster set , but it should definitely be on the uprise from previous last 3-4 years .

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    I can see in one years time, with another logjam of young forwards, a Gags for Bogo type deal being made. A Dman with high pedigree who might need a change of scenery for a decent young forward.
    Maybe not Bogo precisely, but that type of player. Gudbranson, or someone along those kinds of lines. Not your premier defenseman like Johson or Doughty, but a pretty good young dman with some upside.
    Hjalmarsson? Alzner? Who knows.

  • Oilers89

    This is quite ridiculous, Gagner’s skating was a ton better last year, he improved his shot and it is now clearly better. I would go as far as to say he is now above average for top speed but his acceleration is a little shy yet but I’m sure he will improve. I have very little doubt that he will prove every hater wrong, though they probably won’t notice because they will only look at the negatives, never the positives.

  • Clyde Frog

    Fact: last year he produced 45th best in the league as a 21 year old in his position.

    That puts him directly in the middle of second line centres for point production. Saying he has peaked at 21 is ludicrous, also if he has he still produces well enough for a job with 15 other teams as a 2nd line pivot.

    The dream of a 6’4″ 60 plus point 2nd line centre is just a dream, name me 3 right now…

    He produces that’s all that matters, harping on his size or speed is sad and misguided.

    • Kodiak

      If you are going to state something as fact, at least get the facts right. He was the 48th highest scoring center in the league.

      http://www.nhl.com/ice/app?service=page&page=playerstats&fetchKey=20112ALLCACAll&viewName=summary&sort=points&pg=2

      If you are happy with being 18th place then he definitely fits in your lineup. As a side note, he may be the 48th highest scoring center, but he isn’t even close to being the 48th best center as his game is so one dimensional. A center like Brooks Laich that produced what Gagner did but brings a defensive game and wins faceoffs is a lot better option. Even Eric Belanger produced what Gagner did while excelling on the defensive side of the puck, playing the toughs compared to Gagners soft minutes and seeing a lot less PP time than Gagner.

      Gagner has some offensive skills, but his skating and size will keep him from being able to produce as a top line center where small and soft is tolerable because of the production. As a second line center I don’t see how we can run a smaller, one dimensional, defensively suspect player and be successful unless that player is producing at close to 1st line center production. Kesler, Mike Richards, Lecavalier, Laich, Zajac, Bergeron, guys that contribute offensively but bring a stellar defensive game are the types of players that fill the 2nd line center role on successful teams. Gagner will never produce close to 1st line center production and he doesn’t bring anything else to the table but defensive liability. Because of that don’t see him as our 2nd line center going forward if we are going to be successful.

    • Kodiak

      Its my two cents.

      If you think Gagner will be able to become a solid defensive player or put up 60+ points a year, good for you. I don’t. You can criticize my opinion all you want but at least I gave reasons why I feel the way I do. You just hide behind the “but he is young and will improve”. Sorry to break it to you but there are lots of 22 year olds that don’t improve and his point production doesn’t have him trending upward a whole lot.

      The ironic thing is it must be your Nostradumass insights knowing Gagner will, right?!

  • Clyde Frog

    Hot damn, dropping him 3 places sure changed things… Oh wait…

    Eric Belanger hasn’t outscored Sam Gagner since coming into the league… His first three seasons were under 40 points and only just cracked that plateau in his 11 season….

    I can totally understand where you are coming from.. Oh wait…

    Brooks Laich, only cracked 40 points in his 4th season… AFTER spending 3 and a bit in AHL.

    Yeah, why would I want Gagner’s production over that???

    Those guys definitely didn’t improve…

    Oh wait…

    Hate if you want, just don’t try and pretend your not living in a fantasy land where 60+ point second line centres are growing on trees.

    Only 20 centres last year put up 60+ meaning 10 teams didn’t even have first line centres producing that much. Having Sam knock out 40-55 a year is decent production for your 2nd line pivot in this league.

    • Kodiak

      Because along with scoring at the same pace as Gagner, they actually know how to play hockey away from the puck. They know other ways to help their team win. All you do is look at points but there is so much more to the game than cheesy assists. He’s a career -47 for a reason. He plays the softs and still gets shelled.

      There were 8 second line center’s scoring at the 60pt pace – Kesler, Ribeiro, M. Richards, Pavelski, Skinner, Malkin, Stastny, J. Staal. Not sure why you think that it’s impossible or why you wouldn’t want that?

      I’d still take Horcoff with 40 points as our second line center over Gagner with 50-55 any day. Horcoff brings twice the game Gagner does. Wasting roster spots on one dimensional players is not a recipe for success. Look at the teams in the final 8 of the playoffs this year. Not one had a Gagner type player in their lineup. There’s a reason for that.

  • Clyde Frog

    Again only 20 centres broke 60+ points… There are 30 teams in the league, I’ll let you do the math and figure it out on your own. Yup really easy to slot one of those in as a second line centre…

    Malkin, lol… Stastny, lol… M. Richards… lol… Definitely second line centres…

    You didn’t just mention Kesler, did you? Yeah he in no way improved from his early years.

    Cheesy assits? Now you are qualifying production? If they are so cheesey why don’t the 72+ other centres he outproduced pot them?

    Oh wait, because there is no such thing.

    Yeah, trading a 55 points for 40, no team would miss those 15 goals at all.

    Also look to all the players you mentioned early years, even Laich and Belanger do not have a pretty +/- there.

    Run your slander campaign, its still a joke. Its a 1000 times harder to replace lost points on a roster than it is to replace responsibility…

    Have fun championing the return of the Mighty JF Jaques… and MAP…

  • Clyde Frog

    Does anybody acknowledge that through the last two years, we weren’t so much a bad team as a ridiculously injured team. Young talent was forced into positions and responsibilities that they weren’t prepared for?? 7 rookies last year made their debut? They played against the top lines as opposed the desired lines?? What do you do? I still feel bad for Quinn!