The Oilers might be about to get some welcome – and oh so rare – good news on the injury front. According to TSN’s Bob McKenzie, Gagner is “getting much closer to a return” and McKenzie hints that the Oilers’ centre could be back basically any day now.
Hearing EDM’s Sam Gagner (broken jaw) is getting much closer to a return. How close? Good question. This week? Tomorrow? We’ll see.
— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) October 28, 2013
McKenzie’s tweet comes four days after the Edmonton Journal’s Joanne Ireland offered the most recent update on Gagner’s health.
Sam Gagner’s return has been tabled for a week. Surgeon said there was still too much tenderness in jaw. Will re-evaluate next week. #oilers
— Joanne Ireland (@jirelandEJ) October 25, 2013
A Brief History of an Injury
Zack Kassian’s reckless use of his stick ended up breaking Gagner’s jaw and leaving his face a bit of a mess:
Thank you all for the support. Excited to come back stronger and hopefully better looking than a few days ago. pic.twitter.com/jyU91TMSuu
— Sam Gagner (@89SGagner) September 24, 2013
The injury came on September 21; at the time the expectation was that Gagner would miss six-to-eight weeks, putting his estimated time of return sometime around the first half of November. Roughly a week later, at the start of October, Gagner told the Journal’s Jim Matheson that he wanted that timeline down to four or five weeks; tomorrow will mark the fourth week since Gagner made that comment to Matheson.
Sam Gagner and Corey Potter both on IR have re-joined @EdmontonOilers at Sensplex in Kanata. Grebeshkov as u know re-called earlier today
— Bob Stauffer (@Bob_Stauffer) October 18, 2013
Gagner has been practicing with the team for 10 days, now it’s just a matter of him being cleared to play.
How do the Oilers adjust their lines if Gagner is ready, for instance, to play against the Maple Leafs on Tuesday? Dallas Eakins could choose to stick him in the top-six immediately, displacing one of Mark Arcobello, Ales Hemsky or Nail Yakupov, or he could ease him in as a second centre on Boyd Gordon’s line.
After watching Mark Arcobello’s line struggle against the Kings’ Anze Kopitar (and in fairness, the whole team was struggling), I personally like the idea of bumping Gagner into the top-six and sticking Arcobello on Boyd Gordon’s line, like so:
- 1. Nail Yakupov – Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – Jordan Eberle
- 2. David Perron – Sam Gagner – Ales Hemsky
- 3. Ryan Jones – Boyd Gordon – Mark Arcobello
- 4. Luke Gazdic/Anton Lander – Will Acton – Ben Eager
Gagner gives the Oilers options, though the similarity of a bunch of these forwards makes constructing balanced lines difficult. The team is still better with him than without him.
Around the Nation
Just a reminder to sign up for StreakCred. With October almost over (and the monthly prize of a signed NHL jersey and cash almost won), a new monthly prize is available in November. Sign up here to compete for it.
Also, feel free to check out some of my recent articles: