a·cu·men [ak-yuh-muhn] noun: keen insight; shrewdness

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Wednesday, 8 February 2012

02/08/12 Odds & Ends: Gagner Facts

Sam Gagner continued his ridiculous scoring streak on Wednesday against Detroit. Despite the fact that he has missed 7 games this season due to injury, he is now on pace to set new career highs in goals (21) and points (57). This was the year he was supposed to take a step forward, and he may just be doing it.

Before this season Gagner had collected 173 points in 291 games, which is good for 0.59 points per game on average. He set a career high for goals as a sophomore with 16 and a career high for assists as a rookie with 36, but the last two injury-plagued seasons have seen his production drop off. Right now he's averaging 0.77 points per game and he needs just two more goals to match his output in the last two seasons.

Is this the shiny, new-and-improved Sam Gagner, or an anomaly?

It took Sam 64 games to score 13 goals last season, while this year he's done it in 47. There's some room for debate about whether or not he'll reach 20 goals this year, but unless his production falls off a cliff he should at least set a new career mark in that regard. With 13 goals on just 97 shots, Gagner has a shooting percentage of 13.4%. That's the highest of his career, but it's not outrageous for an NHL player.

As of this writing, Sam Gagner is a plus-2 on the season. If he manages to finish the year with a positive plus/minus it will be the first time in his career. His rookie season was the worst at minus-21, and last year he was minus-17. At least part of that has to do with the quality of team that he was on, but it's not like the Oilers are a playoff team right now. There's still plenty of hockey to be played though, and a plus-2 is too precarious to say that Gagner is absolutely going to be a plus player this year.

Gagner's faceoff percentage is better this year too; currently sitting at 48.8%. So far in his career Gagner's best year in the dot saw him win 47.4% of the time. That was two years ago. He regressed a little last season after taking a career high 935 draws and winning 43.8% of them, which is a reminder that we won't know the real story about the faceoff ability of #89 until the season is over. So far in 2011-12 he's taken only 324 draws.

Being a pending Restricted Free Agent means that Gagner is playing for a new contract. He won't keep up the pace he's currently at (8-7-15 in his last 5 games), but if he manages to keep scoring at his 0.77 p/g clip and finishes with 57 points he will be in some elite company. 57 points would have been good for the top 64 in points in the NHL last year. Among the players who scored 57 points:

Ray Whitney, Tuomo Ruutu, Justin Williams, Jason Spezza, Paul Stastny, Patrice Bergeron, Tomas Plekanec, RJ Umberger, Marian Hossa, Dustin Brown and Nikolai Kulemin

Average salary of those players: $4.53 million.

That's too high for Gagner at this point in his career. Many of those names listed above are established NHL veterans and Sam isn't there yet, but he's definitely in line for a raise. His number will probably fall in the $3 million to $4 million range, but it will be interesting to see how much term the Oilers commit.

Right now a lot of fans are probably looking for a deal that's somewhere in the order of 10 years.


  1. 10 year no way! He's smart. He's each year so far, he's gone with 1 or 2 years extensions. He'll wait for CBA to be finalized and know what the cap is. Also lets him try and build on this year and get a big payday - 5 mill. Look for a contract for 4 mil max 3 years. Prob 2 years.

  2. That would be a joke, my good man. You're right though, any long term extension he signs now will cut into his UFA payday years.

  3. I think it is safe to state that both the Oilers and Gagner would prefer to sign a short-term deal. Obviously Gagner does not want to lose UFA years, especially considering the thought that he will be looking at a 3 to 3.5 million dollar a season contract at this stage of his career. Take the two year deal and hope to hit a home-run at your first kick at the can as an UFA. In the Oilers case, I am sure that they would prefer to avoid a long-term deal at this point. The Oilers would like to see Gagner further develop and if a significant long-term deal is earned over the next season and a half, the Oilers will then decide if Gagner can then be replaced or if the Oilers must buck-up and sign him. I think the latter of the two will occur as the replacing of a productive second line center is easier said than done.