Jul 202013
 

Gagner

The Gagner hater’s list- With not much else going on in Oiler-land right now, the hot topic is Sam Gagner’s arbitration hearing on Monday. Last night I caught a portion of the Jason Strudwick Show on the Team 1260 and the Sam Gagner haters were out and they were vocal. Their list of complaints was the same old tired stuff we’ve had to endure in Oil Country for years, specifically that:

  • He is too small
  • He can’t win faceoffs
  • He can’t play defence/ his possession numbers are poor

While some of these points are valid, I’ve always asked the question, “but how is the team going to acquire a big, offensive, defensively sound, faceoff winning machine without ripping apart the roster- assuming one is available?” Myself, I have never been a huge Sam Gagner fan, however, I do believe he is a very nice piece for the Oilers to have as finding a second line centre with skill and who will satisfy all is an exercise in futility.

For this post I decided to examine second line centres league-wide to see if the prototypical second line centre the Gagner haters crave exists and if it would be likely that player could be available in a trade.

The chart below is a scan of players who have been suggested as possible replacements for Gagner on the second line or players who look to line up on the second line next season for their respective teams. I use Gagner’s stats from last year as the baseline and I also threw in each players cap hit for the sake of comparison (in the case of players who were extended, I used the cap hit of their extension).

Gagner

To eliminate players from possible contention as target players to acquire to replace Gagner, I have used the Gagner Hater’s list above. For a player to qualify for consideration, he must:

  • He must be close to Gagner in offensive production from last season. I have set the line at 0.65 PPG. At this pace, a player would score 53 points. At Gagner’s 0.79 PPG pace from last season, he would have scored 64 points. Allowing for more than a 10 point dip is reasonable. Anything beyond that and the team would be significantly downgrading in terms of offence.
  • To be considered as a replacement, the player must be significantly larger than Gagner. For this I am looking at height and weight. For height, the player must be at least 6’1″. For weight, a player can’t be taller than Gagner and not weigh as least as much (191lbs), otherwise he is very slight and any additional advantage height brings is nullified by a very slight frame.
  • Also, potential targets also must be significantly better than Gagner in the faceoff circle. For this measure, I use a cutoff of at least 50%. My reasoning is that anything south of that mark, really isn’t going to have a significant impact in relation to Gagner’s 43.90% mark from last season.
  • Lastly, to be considered as an upgrade, the player in question would have to have better possession stats. In this measure, I have used both Corsi Quality of Competition and Corsi Relative. Gagner is poor in both of these metrics as he faces easier competition than his teammates and the puck is still going in the wrong direction. To come up with a cutoff, I’ll simply state that to be considered, a player has to face tougher competition and have a better Corsi Rel number.

Findings?

Players from the list above who were eliminated based on offensive production:

  • Paul Stastny
  • Steven Weiss
  • Kyle Brodziak
  • Daniel Briere
  • Mike Fisher
  • Adam Henrique
  • Kyle Turris
  • Sean Couturier
  • Martin Hanzal
  • Patrik Berglund
  • Valtteri Filipula

Players from the list above who were eliminated based on the Gagner Hater’s need for size:

  • Paul Stastny
  • Ryan O’Reilly
  • Tyler Seguin
  • Stephen Weiss
  • Jonathan Huberdeau
  • Mike Richards
  • Daniel Briere
  • Adam Henrique
  • Derek Stepan
  • Kyle Turris
  • Valtteri Filipula
  • Nazim Kadri

Players from the list above who were eliminated based on the Gagner Hater’s need for face-off proficiency :

  • Jonathan Huberdeau
  • Tyler Seguin
  • Mike Richards
  • Kyle Brodziak
  • Daniel Briere
  • Mike Fisher
  • Adam Henrique
  • Derek Stepan
  • Kyle Turris
  • Sean Couturier
  • Martin Hanzal
  • Patrick Berglund
  • Nazim Kadri

Players from the list above who were eliminated based on the Gagner Hater’s need for defensive/possession proficiency :

  • Stephen Weiss
  • Mike Richards
  • Patrick Berglund

Who is left?

The only players from the list above who were not eliminated by one metric or another are:

  • Patrice Bergeron
  • Jordan Staal
  • Vincent Lecavalier
  • Logan Couture
  • Ryan Kesler

What isn’t surprising from the remaining names, with possibly the exception of Lecavalier, is that it is pretty much the top players in the NHL at the second line pivot position. For years Lecavalier was a first line guy, until Steven Stamkos emerged in Tampa and now he will settle in behind Giroux in Philly. What this also shows us is that the second line centre the Gagner haters crave is a very rare breed in the NHL. This list of five players all match or exceed Gagner’s offence while being better than him in every other metric I listed. I assume that the Gagner haters would be more than happy with anyone of the players from this short list of five.

The problem is- how realistic is it that anyone of these guys would be available in a trade? Bergeron just signed an extension in Boston and has stated how he would like to finish his career there. Staal forced Pittsburgh’s hand in trading him to be with his brother in Carolina by letting the Penguins know they could either trade him there or he would play one more year and simply sign with the Hurricanes as a free agent. Lecavalier hasn’t even played a game with Philly yet, so it is very doubtful he would be available. With an aging Joe Thornton, there is no way the Sharks are moving Couture. Kesler? Forget it. There is no way the Canucks and Oilers are doing a deal.

To be clear, I would love anyone of the final five playing for the Oilers. In addition, I would agree that any of these guys would be a massive upgrade. However, the reality of the situation is that none of these guys are ever coming here. Also, unfortunately for the Gagner haters, their prototypical second line centre who would tick off all the boxes on their list simply doesn’t exist anywhere else in the NHL. As much as some of you may not like Gagner, his offence can’t easily be replaced and finding a player, outside the five already mentioned above, who would be the significant upgrade some fans are looking for is seemingly impossible.

That is why I am predicting Sam is getting term and 5M on or before Monday. The Gagner haters may freak, but there aren’t any better options out there coming to the Oilers outside of a video game console.

Until next time,

Sean

Sean

Business Development; Parking & Retail at Time Business
I am the blogger formally known as Swin. I am a life long Edmonton Oilers fan. During the day I work for Time Business and sell barrier gates, parking equipment, access control equipment and tobacco inventory control systems for retailers (yes, that is my actual job). I have been battling and beating multiple sclerosis since 2007 and you can read about it at Own Multiple Sclerosis.com and I can be contacted through that site.

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