It’s early, but Sam Gagner’s spot on the depth chart isn’t clouded by injury, old timey coaching or worries over what he doesn’t bring to the dance. Dave Gagner’s boy may be poised for a big season. 

A year ago, Sam Gagner missed opening night and the 6 games afterward, joining the battle in G7 against the NY Rangers on October 22nd. He played RW alongside Eric Belanger and Magnus Paajarvi, and was 2-0 at evens according to Dennis King scoring chances. Gagner spent large portions of last season outside the feature lines, and didn’t score a goal his 20th game of the season. Gagner’s splits suggest a very uneven season, and his pre and post All-Star performances reflect it:

  • Pre All-Star game: 42, 5-16-21 -4 (.5 points-per-game)
  • Post All-Star game: 33, 13-13-26 +9 (.788 points-per-game)

Gagner had excellent timing a year ago, scoring an amazing 8-points in one night against Chicago during a period where his name was mentioned in trade rumors. He is 23 years old, a veteran of 366 NHL games, improved markedly in the faceoff circle and in plus minus compared to team.  


  • 5×5 points per 60: 1.96 (4th among regular forwards)
  • 5×4 points per 60: 3.66 (6th among regular forwards)
  • Qual Comp: 8th toughest among regular forwards
  • Qual Team: 6th best teammates among regular forwards
  • Corsi Rel: 6.3 (4th best among regular forwards)
  • Zone Start: 54.1% (4th easiest among regular forwards)
  • Zone Finish: 51.8% (4th best among regular forwards)
  • Shots on goal/percentage: 149/12.1% (5th among F’s>100 shots)
  • Boxcars: 75, 18-29-47
  • Plus Minus: +5 on a team that was -26

This week in training camp, coach Krueger has Samwise between Ales Hemsky and Nail Yakupov: two elite passers and the Kalashnikov Machinegun. As consolation wingers, Hemmer and the Nail are stunning, and 89 should be able to find chemistry with these two–certainly better chem than he had last season in the Belanger-Paajarvi days. 


Pat Quinn never did figure out Samwise and Tom Renney had his moments too. Ralph Krueger appears to mark the return of ‘rational thinking’ behind the Oilers bench, and placing Gagner between Ales Hemsky and Nail Yakupov is a very good sign. That trio should also get plenty of PP time on the #2PP unit (Horcoff and Hartikainen appear to be getting the push onto the #1PP with the whiz kids) and one expects a pretty good secondary unit to grow out of such a talented bunch.


Sam Gagner is still a young hockey player and should have a decade or more playing a huge role on an NHL team. For the first time in awhile, it looks like the coach is onside with Kevin Lowe and management in terms of Sam Gagner’s best role: a skill center on a skill line. No more Belanger-Paajarvi, or so we hope.

  • Hair bag

    i’m a gagner fan,gives all he’s got,works hard to improve his game,getting better every year at face-offs,willing to drop the gloves when need be,and he is still a young man,a couple years and 15 lbs. and he will be a hand full

  • positivebrontefan

    It will be interesting to see how the opposition spreads its defence between out top two lines. Should get everyone a little more room on the ice. Thats what having a legit top six will do, it’ll spread out the oppositions defence. May even see some decent production from our third line if this is the case. I’m not a fan of putting out our checking line against the other teams best line as it takes away icetime from our top lines. Put our best line against theirs and see how they matchup.

    Go Oilers!

  • A-Mc

    There are lots of Pluses to this year. Lets count them:

    1. We have a new 1st overall pick which is bound to be decent.

    2. Ryan Whitney is Healthy.

    3. Hemsky is Healthy

    4. Sam Gagner has Decent wingers for once (Yaks/Hem)

    5. The Belanger Triangle is statistically bound to improve over the train derailment from last year.

    6. We got a hotshot scoring defenseman in J. Schultz.

    7. We got a big bruiser in Fistric who is a solid Defensive Defenseman.

    8. We have a coach (Krueger) that speaks rationally and honestly. I believe it when people report that the players believe in this guy.

    9. Finally Dubnyk is being handed the #1 spot. No more ifs ands or buts. He will do it, and he’ll be good.

    Looks good to me. I cannot wait until Sunday!

  • 24% body fat

    What ever Sam weighs and his height it is all relative to at minimum his team maybe the whole league.

    Look at him stand next to Eberle. Hall. Yak. They all seem to be comparative in sizes to what they listed. If he is not 5’11” than neither is eberle. Hall is not 6’0″ 1/2 etc.

    At 195 his is definitely one of the more bulky players on the team for his height.

    • B S

      I hope he loses some of that weight through the season, that’s getting to be quite heavy for someone of his height. It could become an injury risk.

      I have the same concern for Nuge. He should be about 175 and holding (perhaps heavier at the start of the season to compensate for lost weight by the end).

  • Time Travelling Sean

    If Sam can work on his foot speed and go back to using the many moves he had in his game when he first started……..he will easily score 60 + points.

    I’m not sure which coach ( Quinn or Renny ) stifiled his offensive game, but he changed the way he played after his first year.

    This guy has heart,soul, and courage. We should not forget he is only 23!

  • B S

    Sam is the worst defensive center in the league and has been for 5 years. After 5 years he still has no idea where to be in his own end or what to do. It’s amazing a guy with this lack of defensive skills made the NHL. Sams smallest on the team.