The latest rumor surrounding the Edmonton Oilers is that Sam Gagner will be named the team’s next captain. The news or rumor, depending on how you want to look at it comes courtesy of Oilersnation.com’s author Wanye Gretz and to his credit, he was the first to break the news that Mike Comrie was returning to Edmonton back in 2009. So does this one have any merit?
Should Gagner be named the 14th captain in Oilers’ history, it would be a surprising to many. Taylor Hall was the favorite choice when we polled our readers back in July on who they thought should be the team’s next captain. His determination on the ice coupled with his skill and leadership would make him an easy and obvious choice to lead this team. Then again he is only 21-years old and while he has a few years of experience behind him, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Dallas Eakins and the rest of the Oilers coaching staff hold off before officially naming this Hall’s team. The same argument could be made for Jordan Eberle.
Ryan Smyth and Andrew Ference are too savvy veterans that could easily warrant a captaincy given their years of service, leadership abilities both on and off the ice along with their charismatic ways that have developed over the years.
But Smyth’s role on this club is diminishing by the day and it’s hard to predict that he’ll be a third liner when the season starts. Can a team have a fourth line captain? I suppose they could but what type of message is that sending.
Ference would also be a good choice, just not this year given he’s new to the team. Allow him a year or two to soak in the energy and excitement that the group of young players bring to the room, learn the Oilers way of doing things and then slap the ‘C’ on his chest.
Suddenly Gagner isn’t a bad choice when you consider the other options. He’s a 24-year old that already has six years of NHL experience under his belt and not to mention had a breakout year last season, finishing second only to Taylor Hall for the team lead in points.
We don’t know what goes on in the room but if Gagner is named the next captain it would speak volumes of his ability to keep the room loose yet focused when it comes to the task at hand. Attributes that would make him the perfect captain.
For now we’ll wait for the official release before giving Wanye Gretz any more mad props.