TOP 100 OILERS: SAM GAGNER (62)

If this list was about the Top 100 Good Guys who have played for the Edmonton Oilers, Sam Gagner would occupy a place on it much higher than the 62 spot I’ve slotted him into. In the seven seasons Gagner toiled for the Oilers, he was considered a good teammate. He was respected in the room. 

Gagner was a stand-up guy who’d fight for his teammates, even though he was physically ill-equipped to do so. I never once heard him make excuses or shift the blame after awful performances by a too-often lousy team, even though there was plenty of blame to go around.

All things considered, Gagner was a pretty good hockey player who was thrown in over his head on some decidedly bad teams, even if he became something of a whipping boy for frustrated fans as his time in Edmonton wound down – I never understood that, although, like I say, I liked the kid.

Sam Gagner

Center — shoots R

Born Aug 10 1989 — London, ONT 


Height 5.11 — Weight 202 [180 cm/92 kg]

Drafted by Edmonton Oilers

Round 1 #6 overall 2007 NHL Entry Draft

BY THE NUMBERS

Season

Tm

GP

G

A

PTS

+/-

PIM

S

S%

TOI

ATOI

2007-08

EDM

79

13

36

49

-21

23

135

9.6

1239

15:41

2008-09

EDM

76

16

25

41

-1

51

156

10.3

1274

16:46

2009-10

EDM

68

15

26

41

-8

33

170

8.8

1108

16:17

2010-11

EDM

68

15

27

42

-17

37

138

10.9

1207

17:45

2011-12

EDM

75

18

29

47

5

36

149

12.1

1289

17:11

2012-13

EDM

48

14

24

38

-6

23

113

12.4

932

19:25

2013-14

EDM

67

10

27

37

-29

41

143

7.0

1231

18:23

2014-15

ARI

81

15

26

41

-28

28

183

8.2

1397

17:15

2015-16

PHI

53

8

8

16

4

25

86

9.3

735

13:52

7 yrs

EDM

481

101

194

295

-77

244

1004

10.1

8278

17:13

1 yr

PHI

53

8

8

16

4

25

86

9.3

735

13:52

1 yr

ARI

81

15

26

41

-28

28

183

8.2

1397

17:15

Career

615

124

228

352

-101

297

1273

9.7

10410

16:56

NOTABLE

Gagner

Gagner was the youngest player in the NHL when he broke in with the Oilers for the 2007-08 season. Back then, before the arrival of Jordan Eberle, Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, the hope was Gagner and youngsters like Andrew Cogliano and Robert Nilsson would lead a resurgence by the Oilers, just a couple of years removed from making it to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final.

With 49 points in 79 games, Gagner finished third in team scoring behind only Ales Hemsky and Shawn Horcoff. He finished seventh in voting for the Calder Trophy. Gagner wasn’t big, he wasn’t fast and he wasn’t as good in the circles as you’d like a centre to be, but he was, to borrow an old-timey reference, a nifty player with some finish around the net.

The resurgence wasn’t to be. The Oilers won 41 games in Gagner’s first season, but they didn’t get better, they got worse – they failed to reach 40 wins again during his time here. For his part, Gagner never did build on his rookie season. He never did match the 49 points he had as a rookie, although he did have 38 points in 48 games in the shortened 2012-13 campaign.

THE STORY

Gagner

Gagner never did develop into the top-line centre some people thought he might. Despite one unforgettable eight-point night, Gagner wasn’t a prolific scorer. He wasn’t dynamic. He wasn’t a big, robust banger who’d lead by example. He was a guy who’d get you 45 points a season. He was a player who’d step in for a teammate, like he did when he took a licking from Francois Beauchemin after he took a run at Taylor Hall.

Already surpassed on the marquee by Hall, Eberle and Nugent-Hopkins, the beginning of the end for Gagner came in the pre-season of 2013-14, when Zack Kassian badly busted his jaw with a high stick. Gagner struggled to regain his form and his place in the line-up, but he still managed 37 points in 67 games before the Oilers dealt him to Tampa Bay for Teddy Purcell the next off-season.

Gagner had a burning desire to win, which he never did here. He was willing to answer the tough questions during tough times and never hid from those asking about another bad loss, another poor effort. Some did. Gagner was, and is, an honest player. He was a good Oiler during some bad times.

This series will look at the top 100 Edmonton Oilers from the NHL era 1979-80 to 2014-15, starting with 100 and working up. 


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

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