GDB 9.0: Sam Gagner set to make Oilers history (7pm MT, SNW)

Photo credit:Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Jason Gregor
6 months ago
Sam Gagner returns for his third stint with the Edmonton Oilers and in doing so becomes the first player in franchise history to do so. He will be the 38th player in NHL history to have three tours with the same organization. He will play his 543rd NHL game as a member of the Edmonton Oilers tonight. He moves one game ahead of Jason Smith and sits 22nd all time in games played. Darnell Nurse is 21st at 567, Steve Staios is 20th at 573, Connor McDavid sits 19th at 575 and recent inductees into the Oilers Hall of Fame, Lee Fogolin (588) and Doug Weight (586), are 18th and 17th respectively. If Gagner plays 44 games for the Oilers this season he will be 19th, assuming Nurse and McDavid remain healthy. Gagner needs 12 points to pass Taylor Hall for 20th on the Oilers’ all-time scoring list.
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Gagner has had some memorable moments in an Edmonton Oilers jersey.
He endeared himself to Oilers fans when as a rookie he fought Ryan Kesler. He also produced 49 points as a rookie that same season.

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Then in the opening game of his third season in 2009-2010, head coach Pat Quinn started Gagner on the fourth line. Gagner responded by fighting Craig Conroy off the face off after the Flames took a 3-1 lead.

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And his most memorable performance was his eight-point game on February 2nd, 2012. It was a massive bright spot for Oilers fans in the middle of the Decade of Darkness. Gagner scored four goals and added four assists to tie Wayne Gretzky and Paul Coffey for a record that will be incredibly difficult to break. Doing it against a stacked Chicago team made it more special and surprising.
Gagner was never an elite scorer. His career-best 50 points came with Columbus in 2017-18, although he had 38 points in 48 games in the 2013 lockout and was on pace to score 64 points that season. But he was quite consistent offensively over his first 10 seasons averaging between 0.51 to 0.63 points per game, with the 2013 season as his best at 0.79.
Gagner’s best asset is how he thinks the game. He’s smart. He has good offensive instincts and has averaged at least one minute/game on the PP every year of his career except in 2022 in Detroit. In his 15th NHL season, in Detroit, he played 2:22/game on the penalty kill. He’s had to evolve his game late in his career.
He’s played centre, right wing, even a few games at left wing in his career. He’s skated on the first, second, third and fourth lines.
He was drafted sixth overall in 2007. From his draft class he ranks 10th in goals (192), eighth in assists (327), ninth in points (519) and sixth in games played with 1,015. He’s had an excellent NHL career, and after double hip surgery to repair torn labrums, he is hoping to help the Oilers win.
“I feel good,” Gagner said yesterday after his first practice with the Oilers.  “It was nice to play some games (in Bakersfield) and get back to playing hockey. I played three games, two of them back-to-back, and I’m really happy with how I’ve played, and my hips feel great.”
What difference does he feel? Is he quicker or does he have more mobility now?
“I’m definitely more mobile, not having to deal with pain is really helpful. When you go through your summer training and stay on the ice late to work on things, work on your speed, it becomes more and more difficult when you’re in pain. I’m really happy with how they feel and now it is a matter of going out there, playing as hard as I can, and help the team win some games.”
Head coach Jay Woodcroft mentioned the lack of offence from the bottom-six thus far, and Gagner is a more proven offensive player than Adam Erne. But can he still chip in?
“It has always been part of my game trying to create offensive chances, having poise with the puck and making plays,” said Gagner. “Ultimately you have to play hard at both ends of the rink, do your best to be solid defensively, and not give up anything, and then when you have the opportunity to create some chances. Whether it goes in or not, it is an opportunity for your team to create momentum and help the other lines coming on the ice by playing in the O-zone. I’m going to do my best in any area I’m called upon.”
Gagner is the seventh player since the 2004 lockout to play for the same team three different times. Zbynek Michalek and Radim Vrbata (ARI), Francois Beauchemin and Derek Grant (ANA), Joe Corvo (CAR) and David Perron (STL) also did it, but Gagner’s 16 years between the first and third stint with the team is the largest gap among these seven and is fifth largest all time after Patrick Marleau (24 years apart with San Jose), Mark Recchi (18 years with Pittsburgh), Terry Sawchuk (18 years with Detroit) and Luc Robitaille (17 years with LA). It is rare.
In the fall of 2007, Gagner was an 18-year-old rookie who represented hope for the Oilers and their fans. Sixteen years later he isn’t be expected to be an offensive leader, just someone who can chip in, but for many his return stirs up a large amount of nostalgia. Fans remember the rookie who stood up to fight Kesler and then five years later scored eight points in a game. Gagner represents some very memorable moments in Oilers history, and he is hoping he has a few more left in his game.




Foegele – McDavid – Draisaitl
Kane – RNH – Hyman
Holloway – McLeod – Brown
Gagner  – Ryan
Nurse – Ceci
Ekholm – Bouchard
Kulak – Desharnais
At the Heritage Classic Woodcroft played Ryan McLeod more on the fourth line than the third — a subtle message to get him going. The Oilers didn’t run any lines yesterday in practice and had an optional skate today, so these are a bit of a guess. But I see zero reason to change the top-two lines after Sunday’s victory. Dallas played last night and head coach Pete Deboer mentioned the importance of the first 10 minutes. His team hasn’t started well, with only four first period goals this season. Edmonton hasn’t had many issues in the first period this year, despite their record, and are tied for the third-most goals in the first frame with 12.
Edmonton has outscored teams 12-9 in the first, but they’ve been outscored 12-7 in the second, 10-3 in the third and 1-0 in OT.
Dallas is the opposite. They’ve been outscored 8-4 in the first, but outscored their opponents 12-4 in the second, tied 8-8 in the third and are up 1-0 in OT.
The Stars are 6-1-1 with only a +5 goal differential. They know how to win close games.


Robertson – Hintz – Pavelski
Benn – Johnston – Dadonov
Marchment – Duchene – Seguin
Dellandrea – Steel – Smith
Suter – Heiskanen
Harley – Hakanpaa
Lindell – Lundkvist
Radek Faksa is out with an upper body injury while Jake Oettinger gets the night off after stopping 43 of 46 shots in Calgary last night. The Stars have played the same six D-men in every game so far this season.


Photoshop: Tom Kostiuk
GAME DAY PREDICTION: Edmonton is 5-3-1 v. Dallas over the past four seasons (they didn’t play in the shortened 2020-21 season). They extend their winning streak to three games over the Stars with a 5-2 win.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Oilers’ depth scorers have done well against Dallas lately. Mattias Janmark scored four goals in two games, Jujhar Khaira had two in three games and Warren Foegele has two in five. Connor Brown scores his first goal as an Oiler.
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Gagner picks up his first NHL point since January 10th, 2023.

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