A STORY ABOUT OLD TOM

gagner common1

Darren Dreger of TSN told the nation today two things: the Oilers are “looking for a center” and “Sam Gagner’s name seems to surface annually at the draft.” For Sam Gagner, center, that suggests this fall is going to see at least a position change, maybe more. Question: how much trade value does 89 have?

WHAT A DIFFERENCE A YEAR MAKES

dreger gagner

Gagner would “settle” for a three-year deal for $4.8 million dollars.

I’m not going to go over the season again, you know the mugging and the result and now we are here. In the interest of full disclosure, I’ve always been a Gagner fan and love his sublime passing ability. Back when I learned the game, passing and making a pass and the fundamentals behind them were a major part of the discussion.

Gagner’s play without the puck was always an issue, and his minutes against softer opponents always seemed like slow progress. In each of the last three seasons, Gagner played softer minutes when Horcoff was fading and baby Nuge was learning to swim against the NHL currents.

SAM GAGNER 10-11

  • 5×5 points per 60: 1.91 (2nd among regular forwards)
  • 5×4 points per 60: 2.51 (9th among regular forwards)
  • Qual Comp: 7th toughest among regular forwards
  • Qual Team: 4th best teammates among regular forwards
  • Corsi Rel: 7.0 (4th best among regular forwards) (-3.81 CorsiON)
  • Zone Start: 50.9% (6th easiest among regular forwards)
  • Zone Finish: 53.4% (best among regular forwards)
  • Shots on goal/percentage: 138/10.9% (8th among F’s>100 shots)
  • Boxcars: 68gp, 15-27-42

SAM GAGNER 11-12

  • 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) (-2.18 CorsiON)
  • 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

SAM GAGNER 12-13

  • 5×5 points per 60: 1.84 (4th among regular forwards)
  • 5×4 points per 60: 6.15 (1st among regular forwards, 19th in NHL)
  • Qual Comp: 5th toughest among regular forwards (2nd line opp)
  • Qual Team: 6th best teammates among regular forwards
  • Corsi Rel: -4.3 (9th best among regular forwards) (-14.44 CorsiON)
  • Zone Start: 51.4% (4th easiest among regular forwards)
  • Zone Finish: 52.0% (3rd best among regular forwards)
  • Shots on goal/percentage: 113/12.39% (2nd among F’s>70 shots)
  • Boxcars: 48, 14-24-38

SAM GAGNER 13-14

  • 5×5 points per 60: 1.44 (6th among regular forwards)
  • 5×4 points per 60: 2.20 (6th among regular forwards)
  • Qual Comp: 4th toughest among regular forwards (2nd line opp)
  • Qual Team: 5th best teammates among regular forwards
  • Corsi Rel: 0.7 (6th best among regular forwards)
  • Corsi for % 5×5: 44.2
  • Corsi for % Rel 5×5: 0.0
  • Zone Start: 55.5% (4th easiest among regular forwards)
  • Zone Finish: 47.2% (5th best among regular forwards)
  • Shots on goal/percentage: 143/7% (7th among F’s>100 shots)
  • Boxcars: 67, 10-27-37

By last season, he was playing against 3rd line (10-11, 11-12) and 2nd line (12-13, 13-14) opposition. All of that during a rebuild, and starting in 2011 fall with a flat out rookie who probably weighed 165 soaking wet slowly taking away the heavy lifting. Sam couldn’t play the toughs successfully.

Sam was too small one year, too slow the next.

The charmed life turned into a perfect storm for Samwise in 2013-14. His injury, added to a dreadful season and fan outrage reaching the boiling point, smashed together in an instant—and Oiler fans and observers spoke out against all that was wrong.

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Missed assignments? That’s not really telling it as it was. Sam Gagner, whether through injury or moments of indecision, was at the wrong place at the right time seemingly every shift.

And people. got. mad.

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Blogs were written. Points were made. The crowd wore black. It was not good. Sam Gagner, the 2007 draft pick who charmed a city and blazed right up to the brink of 50 NHL points before shaving, saw the other side of playing in good old our town.

After such a long time in the second division, after such a long time of looking up at success without ever grabbing it, is it time to start again?

WHAT HAPPENED?

I’m always hesitant to imply any area of expertise when it comes to hockey players. If you want advice about how to succeed in hockey, Sutherby or Strudwick are your men. They’ve seen things up close and personal. I can cackle about a defensive sortie gone wrong and point at the guy who went ass over tea kettle, but it doesn’t really help in explaining the game and finding out what happened.

Hockey players. If you can put up with the F-bombs, they’re a very informative group.

I want to tell you something I learned from a guy who didn’t play NHL hockey, although he was around it for much of his adult life. It’s a story about Tom Poti, who at the time—coincidentally—was in his final days as an Oiler. And it was told by Mr. John Short.

One day, John was in the bowels of the CFRN building and I was asking him questions. This happened possibly 1,000 times in my 20s and 30s, and I listened more than talked. On this day, I asked John “what in h-e-double-hockey-sticks is wrong with Poti?”

John Short, who is a storyteller before he’s anything, paused, and then delivered the following:

Every place Tom Poti played before the NHL, he never had a worry about the puck. In high school, and at Boston University, when he wanted the puck he just went over and got it. Tom Poti was the best player on the ice. He could dangle and pass and dipsy doodle whenever his heart desired.

And he never spent a minute in the minors.

When Poti arrived in the NHL, the game was different. Want the puck, kid? F-bomb! And so it began. Tom Poti never played the game the NHL men play until the moment he stepped on the ice, because he never had to, and in this way the on-the-job training began opening night 1998.

Tom Poti moved away from Edmonton on a March day over a decade ago, no doubt taking his crazy food stuff with him to Manhattan. He learned, he survived, and he flourished as a grown man after learning those lessons as an Oiler.

And Edmonton? We’ve got our new Poti. I always say there’s a difference between having five years experience and having one year’s experience five times. It’s a mean thing to say about someone, even if true. I think Staples’ words are as effective and less cruel so we’ll go with those.

Whatever happens this week Sam Gagner, thank you. I’ve enjoyed your hockey and will continue to at your next stop.

Be it right wing, or Florida. Sail on.

  • 24% body fat

    GAGNER ARTICLE = HITS AND COMMENTS,

    cudos for knowing how to generate revenue for the site.

    still do not see hard number to suggest gagner is slow or small

    The average nhl player is 6’1″ 205lbs . Take the d out and the average forward is 6’0″ 200lbs. Gagner is listed as 5’11” 201. He is an averaged sized forward. Eberle is the smurf of the top 6. SO if you want size than he is the one to trade. But size is useless if you dont have skill. We dont give away Eberle because he is smaller. Finding the balance is the question. But I still dont see a QUANTITATIVE measure of Gagner being small or slow. and i still dont see a quantitative measure of gagner not being a second line center (top 60 ppg amungst centers), So yes he may have deficiencies, but maybe a lot of them are to do with a 29th or 30th place team and a terrible defense.

    somebody want to compare nuge first 3 seasons of ppg to gagners and compare who nuge was playing with vs gagner.

    just saying don’t throw away your silver medal because it has tarnish and because you have a gold (hall) find a place for it on your shelf or sell it for the price of silver not bronze.

  • BorjeSalming-IanTurnbull

    I would put him on the wing and play him with bigger bodies. He could be a St Louis Mike Richards type player if he shows the commitment to the defensive zone and has a little more protection. Very talented young man that needs a platform to succeed. He’s under contract with a unique set of skills that will help a team win. Heck we gave Jones Belov Grebs Potter Big Mac?? Jesse I wish I had Handssuu a lot of money. Don’t trade him

  • Wax Man Riley

    Edmonton fans are firing another “less than” favorite son… Sam it is good company you are with…

    Prior fan firings

    Tom Poti
    Sheldon Sourey
    Jason Arnott
    Tom Gilbert

    Going way back

    Cowboy Bill Flett

  • bwar

    Conspiracy against Gagner ? I suspect it will all come out in the wash ? Several times Gags was spotted not wearing ” NHL authorized briefs ” . Might he face fines or even suspension ? The NHL board of governors has dually decided to get to the bottom of these allegations , and will be bringing him in for debriefing after the draft . Fabrication obviously .

  • Wax Man Riley

    I think I’m in the vast minority here in thy I would love to see Gagner stick around and find his game in Oilers silks. Assuming that he’s not completely mentally drained from losing since he entered the NHL, I still think there’s a player worth keeping there.

    Last season was really unfortunate for Sam, the broken jaw was the cherry on top of a terrible run of awful luck. Sam Gagner is not going to be the guy who piles up 8 points in a night but he’s also a better player than he’s been able to show.

    Others have mentioned it, but I will too. I love Gagner’s heart. He’s a solid team-first guy who has been willing to stand up for his teammates when far too many others would not. He’s well liked in the dressing room, and from a distance it seems like he’s one of those players who will always have that innate drive to continue improving.

    I hope he sticks around another year, without having to eat through a straw for a month. I think we’ll see at strong improvement.

    • bwar

      What if he doesn’t put up points then its two consecutive poor years and he went from “possible bounce back” with last year being an anomaly to zero value.

      I am not saying he won’t have success if he stay with the Oilers but I don’t think the Oilers are strong enough to count on it. He doesn’t bring enough of anything else to the table to make up for it if he doesn’t get the points.

  • bwar

    I love his attitude and character, just wish he was better defensively. Not many guys fight a Beauchamin knowing they’ll get their ass kicked and do it anyway because the team needs a lift. He’s the type of player mentally I love.

  • Sevenseven

    Sam Gagner is the direct result of his development. He is a lesson learned for the Oilers in how not having an Ahl team, a revolving door of coaches, and rushed prospects can turn a promising first rounder into a shell of himself. Dubnyk was is in that same boat. Move him to the wing, find him a two way center, and let this following season play out. I see the oilers improving, but still not a playoff team. They can get more for him at the deadline or next summer if he has a rebound season.

  • The Last Big Bear

    Well, maybe the offer for Kyle Clifford is still on the table?

    I think Oilers fans would be SHOCKED to see what kind of return the rest of the league would offer for Gagner.

    And not in a good way.

    There are plenty of teams who wouldn’t claim him off waivers.

  • bwar

    We as fans get emotionally invested in our long term players but take a beating when they are gone for downgrades to fill them , which only has lead to worse results . Example : Ottawa Roughriders fans got tired of 20 years out of playoffs and team not doing well at home to get them emotionally invested . They lost their franchise and fan base as a result . We are going down that same path and it will not be long before fans detach themselves from a continual loser . We are getting to be a minor league team playing in the NHL , and that has got to change .

    Players like Hemsky , Smid , Gagner , Smyth , even Horcoff and Jones many fans were emotionally invested in here . Change is good when you actually get better , and have new ones to get emotionally invested with . I do not believe we have that emotional attachment now as I feel it is fastly shrinking .

    • You don’t think there’s a tonne of fans invested in the likes of Nuge, Hall and Ebs? Perhaps you don’t – but plenty do – so don’t use words like “we” when you mean “I”.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Kind of a depressing scenario you have pitched for Gagner here . Sounds like he has zero to negative value in a trade with his contract . Sounds more like a buy out candidate if that is possible .

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Best of Luck to the London Dangler. He’s destined for better days/results in the much less physical eastern conference. He should have better success on the far side of the world instead of out here in the dog eat dog western conference.

    Look how Brassards game improved marginally when he moved from the Jackets to the Rangers. Similar type of player, just a step slower is Sam.

    Ah shoot, I just remembered, I don’t care.

    • Bucknuck

      You do care. You’re a pissed off pessimist who’s had enough terrible oilers performances to render all your doom and gloom correct, but I am happily looking forward to the day when you can shed that and cheer loud like a fan should be able to do. Plus I want you to be wrong because then that means the oil aren’t as bad as all that.

  • Spoils

    Man do I hate the idea of trading Sam for picks at his nadir. Unless MacT can convince someone to look past last year, I think we should hold on and hope his value goes up.

    It is a gamble, but nothing ventured, nothing gained.

    (CUE 2016 third-round draft pick and a 2015 fifth-rounder)

  • The Last Big Bear

    It needs to be on another team. If he is moved to the wing, the opposition will have a game plan to load up the weak side boards when Sam is on the ice and have a field day. He can’t play center on a small team, what makes any hockey knowledgeable person think he can be hidden on the wing of a small team. You can hide him at center of a larger team, but no hockey mind in their right mind would put Sam on the wing and further degrade his value or lack there of.

  • Schmenge

    If Draisaitl falls in our lap at three then Sam will get traded for a 2nd round pick and or Third,(sounds like picks only for Sam) that’ll shore up those missing picks from past deals…take it to the bank..

  • vetinari

    I was a Gagner supporter up to the point where he logged 400+ games under his belt and then it was too hard to keep writing off his defensive lapses as being an inexperienced player. There comes a point where either the player steps up to his full potential or you cut ties. Sam has had 7 pro years and 481 NHL games to be evaluated– it’s time to cut ties, absolutely as a centre and probably as an Oiler.

  • The Last Big Bear

    No doubt Gagner’s gonna go to another team, put up 50pts annually and have more fun playing on a competetitive team!

    Trade him for Taro Tsujimoto