Sam Gagner recently signed on for the three seasons with the Edmonton Oilers and I started to think about what his upside was and who he compares to long term. One name that immediately came to mind was Joe Pavelski, who has turned into a pretty darn good second line center in San Jose. Pavelski and Gagner are both listed at 5`11 but Gagner weighs 9 Lbs more than Pavelski at 199 Lbs. Pavelski(29) has played 479 games and has 336 points for a 0.70 points per game career average. Pavelski plays a 200 feet game and fills a lot of roles on the Sharks roster. He is good in the face off dot, ranking 23rd in the league last season at 53.9%. He kills penalties and plays powerplay as well. For a smaller player, Pavelski has a bit of grit and isn`t afraid of going to the tough areas to score. To me, he is exactly what Oiler fans hope Sam Gagner can turn out to be. Gagner, who is six years younger than Pavelski, has played 414 career games netting 258 points for a 0.62 points per game career average. Gagner also plays with grit and isn`t afraid of taking the puck to the net. The only areas I see Gagner needing to improve are his defensive game and his faceoff percentage, both which I feel will improve based on experience alone. If Gagner`s points per game continue to improve with age, and he can develop into a responsible defensive player who can win faceoffs, he will be quite similar to Joe Pavelski and I`m sure The Oilers brass would be more than happy with that. Can the Oilers compete with Nugent-Hopkins and Sam Gagner as their one, two punch…??? Well, that a whole different conversation…
Zach Bogosian is not a comparable for Justin Schultz
Gotta love Oiler fans. Within 10 minutes of Zach Bogosian signing a long term deal with the Winnipeg Jets for north of $5 Million per year, Oilers fans were complaining and bickering that Justin Schultz was going to command more than Bogosian. Let`s stop right there and actually look at the two. Bogosian, a 6`3 215 lbs top pairing dman, is a stay at home shut down defenceman who has a touch of offensive to his game. He is very physical and chews up a lot on minutes. Last season he had 14 points, 29 Pims and played against the opposing team`s best line night in and night out. He also has played 297 career games. Schultz on the other hand has played a whopping 48 games, has 27 points and was a -17 on a poor Oilers team. Schultz cannot play against first line opponents just yet, he cannot kill penalties just yet and he certainly is not a physical defenceman. I just don`t see the comparison in the two. Don`t get me wrong, Schultz will get paid but comparing the two doesn`t make much sense.
Oilers Defence is Must Improved
The Edmonton Oilers defence will look drastically different on 2013-2014 opening night than it did to finish the 2012-2013 season. Out are Ryan Whitney and Mark Fistric and in are Andrew Ference, Denis Grebeshkov, Anton Belov and Philip Larsen. The biggest and best difference is having Ference in the second pairing, pushing Nick Schultz to the third pairing. The sixth defenceman will be a rotation among the depth guys that Mact brought in. Having Stanley Cup winner Ference helping J. Schultz along the way should be fantastic and this pair should be a good fit. N. Schultz as the number five guy is quite an upgrade as well. Added to the upgrades on the back-end, is the competition factor. Mact brought in a few extras bodies so the fight for jobs will be fierce, which can only be a good thing moving forward. I think it`s fair so say that The Oilers back-end is improved but it is good enough is the real question…
Keep The Faith!!!
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