By The Numbers - #89 Sam Gagner

Rounding out the eighties, Sam Gagner is our penultimate player in our By The Numbers series.  Paajarvi, you’re on deck.

We got your back, Sam. Photo courtesy sportsnet.ca

NAME:  Sam Gagner

POSITION: Centre

DOB: 10 AUG 1989 (22)

2010-11 NUMBERS:  15G-27A-42 PTS, (-17) 37 PIM in 68 GP

2010-11 SALARY: $2.275M (one year remaining), will be RFA July 1st 2012

THE SKINNY

Here’s a few things I’m sure of about Oiler centre Sam Gagner:

  • He’s a first round pick (sixth overall) in 2007
  • He’s 22
  • He’s already scoring 40+ points in the league on a club that needed some big help last year
  • Most importantly, he’s going to get better.

With or without Ryan Nugent-Hopkins in the lineup, Gagner is my choice to be the number two centre.  Looking four years down the road, it very well may be Gagner who turns into the 1C.  This isn’t to besmirch RNH’s talent, but only to reinforce that Sam Gagner is already a good player, and will only get better.

I’ve heard discussions that Gagner needs to toughen up his game, or that Gagner is one of those guys that needs to be packaged up in order to land an ‘elite’ player.  The people who bring that argument to the table mean well, I’m sure.  They’re just wrong about Sam Gagner.

Want proof?

The only other player to score more than Sam Gagner that came from the 2007 NHL draft class is fellow London Kinght (and current Chicago Blackhawk) Patrick Kane. Jakub Voracek trails Sam Gagner in the Class of 2007 by 39 points, and David Perron trails Voracek by three.  Gagner has shown that he’s more than needed on the Edmonton Oilers hockey club.  Gagner led the Oiler centres in every major statistical category with the exception of faceoff win percentage and shooting percentage.  Again, he’s 22, and I’m not too awful worried about any of that.

Gagner finished with 42 points in 68 games this year, good for a second place (tied with the sometimes injured Taylor Hall and very often injured Ales Hemsky) on the 2010-11 Oilers.  At 22 years of age, there’s a slew of time he’ll have in order to get better.  Next year is one of those steps in time.  If Gagner can improve both his faceoff win percentage and shooting percentage by three or four percentage points (from 43% in 2010-11), bigger things will surely follow.

WHAT COULD BE

Out of all my predictions, Gagner hitting 50 points for the first time in his career should come to plan in a contract year.  22G-29A in 73 games is what we’ll go with.  Not sold that the club is going to run RNH full speed this year, and if they do, I don’t see it eating into Gagner’s time anytime soon.

What do you see in store for Sam Gagner?

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