26-Year-Old Center – Free Agent
Sam Gagner Contract Information:
Signeda three-year contract with the Oilers, worth $14.4 million, in July of 2013.
Gagner bagged a helper, his first point since March 22, in Thursday's 4-3 overtime loss to Toronto.
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Sam Gagner: Past News Updates ( ▲ View most recent update )
RotoWire's Preseason Outlooks
It feels like Gagner has been around forever, but we’re still waiting on the 25-year-old to deliver the breakout that has never seemed to come. Still, Gagner is a highly-skilled player who will slot into the role the Coyotes hoped Mike Ribeiro would fill: as a staple among their top-six forwards and a key cog on the power play. His 37 points and minus-29 rating in 2013-14 qualified a disappointment, but Gagner did miss a dozen games and was undermined by one of the league’s worst defenses in Edmonton. The change of scenery can only help. Gagner will likely line up on a wing and play some center, but the big question is whether in his eighth season in the NHL, he has another gear to get over the 50-point hump once and for all.
So much for a 55-point season. Gagner underwent surgery to repair a broken jaw in the last week of September, courtesy of the errant stick of Vancouver's Zach Kassian. At least Kassian was suspended -- Gagner's face looked like it had been rearranged a little like a Mr. Potato Head. He's out for the first two months of the season and that seriously puts a damper on both his output and the Oilers', too. Once he returns, he'll have to earn his way back to center an up-and-coming second line with Nail Yakupov and Ales Hemsky (or Hemsky's replacement, if they successfully move him). Forty points might be a stretch. Ouch ... literally and figuratively.
Gagner has been pushed to the second line with the Oil's addition of so much top end talent. He can still be a useful player, but is no longer seen as someone to build a franchise around and his naem is often whispered in trade rumors. Gagner is still just 22 years of age and could start this year with 2012's top overall pick, Nail Yakupov, flanking him, but his upside seems to be that of a 20-goal scorer with only a small handful of those goals on the power play.
Gagner missed the final month of the 2010-11 season after having his hand sliced open by a teammate during a game. He will be fully recovered from the freak accident for the start of this season and is expected to center the second line. Gagner has disappointed the Oilers as he hasn't taken that next step in his evolution since scoring 49 points in his rookie campaign. The Oilers are starting to acquire more offensive talent and if Gagner is unable to take that next step this season, he may find his playing time diminished or taken away all together.
Gagner was another Oiler that ended last season on injured reserve. His problem was with his hip and although the injury wasn't considered all that serious, the Oilers decided it would be best not to take a chance with their young center. If he had stayed healthy Gagner was poised to score the most goals in a season in his young career, but is still not much of a fantasy force with the exception of deeper leagues as scoring more than 25 goals in a season may be a stretch for him if he's not on the first line.
Gagner was part of the problem in Edmonton last season. Not so much for declining play, but for having pretty much the same season as his freshman year. Improvement was expected, but outside of improving his plus/minus from -21 to -1, his stats are similar. If he wants more ice time, than he will have to find the back of the net more than the 16 times he did in 2008-09. Once again the upside is there for him to do just that, but his ceiling may be that of a 25-30 goal scorer.
Gagner had a solid rookie season for Edmonton finishing with 13 goals and 49 points in 79 games. He has a very bright future. Finished the season as the Oilers number one center and should remain there. Although not a fantasy stud as of yet, there is plenty of room for improvement.
Gagner has terrific hockey sense to go along with good offensive upside and defensive smarts. Hopefully, his development will continue in the upcoming years as the Oilers have a great prospect here. He'll likely return to London of the OHL in 2007-08.
Gagner could very well one of the smartest hockey minds in this year's draft and we all know how hockey IQ can elevate a player's ultimate performance. Sure, he's a bit on the small side at 5'10" and 191 lbs, and he needs to improve his skating. But this kid is one of those seeing-eye playmakers who can dish up tasty little passes to sniping linemates. He needs some more seasoning but he will some day deliver better than a point per game. And fantasy owners will rejoice.