October 29, 2014 Leave a comment
Sam Gagner is 25 years-old has played over 480 games as an Oiler he is approaching 500 career games as an NHLer. His legacy among the fan base is likely divided between; a failed draft pick (ie – should have chosen Couture), poor development by the Oiler’s mangement (should have went back to junior) and an alright pick who’s skill-set was duplicated by the infusion of new talent (Eberle, RNH & Hall).
I started to look at Gagner because I was reviewing the Oiler’s drafts between 2007 – 2009. I started to write a quick summary on Gagner. The more data I looked at the more I got sucked in, yada yada yada, I wrote this article and I’m really tired today.
Sometimes I think we need to temper our expectations of what to expect out of a draft pick. Gagner wasn’t a failed draft pick. He was just a ‘meh’ player an average player not great but not horrible. For an average 6th overall pick you are more often going to get Gagner than Forsberg. MyNHLDraft lists out the complete list of 6th overall picks since 1980. The Oilers had drafted two great players (Paul Coffey & Ryan Smyth), two players (Boyd Devereaux & Steve Kelly) that didn’t develop with the Oiler’s and a ‘meh’ player Sam Gagner.
So Sam Gagner this is your Edmonton life … in numbers. Not your social life that would be a little creepy.
The Central Scouting Report via Edmonton Oilers website:
“A skilled forward with the ability to make the big plays…has very good hands and is creative with the puck… has a good wrist shot with a quick release… has high-end passing skill both forehand and backhand…sees the ice very well… reliable in the defensive end and used in critical situations… a good skater, but needs to work on his acceleration and mobility…needs to improve his ability to fight through checks.”
Let’s take a look at the numbers. I pulled the 5×5 Pts/60 numbers from stats.hockeyanalysis.com with forwards that played 200+ minutes. For reference there is roughly 420 – 430 NHL forwards that play 200+ minutes each season with the exception of 12-13 (lockout year).
|Season||Age||5×5 Pts/60||NHL Rank||Pts/G|
Was Gagner’s development path impeded by his deployment as a young (August birthday) 18 year old in the NHL? For reference I think unless the prospect is an elite level talent he should be sent back to junior. But an argument can be made that Gagner’s best season was his rookie year, it was the most points he had received and his highest Pts/60 he posted.
Looking at Gagner’s Pts/G ranged from .55 – .63 the last several seasons .6 Pts/G ranks in the 110 - 130 range for NHL forwards. So we are looking at a borderline secondary scoring forward. But if you look at the 5×5 Pts/60 from 07-08 –> 11-12 the Oilers had a forward that was cruising along and providing good numbers for a solid second line forward. And hinted at the possibility that he could be a top-line player. W
So, why the increase in points in 2012-13? It looks like we had a forward that was easily within the top 60 for NHL forwards with .79 Pts/G. So, we have to take a look at his PP points to understand that. It also answers the question about 09-10 when he had a low Pts/60 but an average year (for Gagner) with regards to Pts/G.
I started to look into the PP number. Below is a chart based on 5×4 data from hockeyanalysis.com who played 100+ minutes.
|Season||Age||5×4 Pts/60||NHL Rank||IPP|
Looking at these numbers it first shows that Gagner is widely inconsistent. If you look at the IPP section it had two seasons where he had unsustainable production. From 07-08 –> 13-14 there were 18 players that had 5×4 IPPs above 88. Nobody did it twice, except Gagner. One might think perhaps Gagner is excellent on the PP. If this is true, then why doesn’t he do this year in and year out. The typical average IPP for forwards is between .55 – .65.
Slow down there tough guy I don’t know what IPP is. Individual Points Percentage – The percentage of goals scored by players team while player is on the ice that the player had a point on. Got it! Get it! Good! Let’s move on.
What this means is that in 09-10 he had an extra 5 PP points that were unsustainable. In 09-10 the 5 less points would have lowered his Pts/G to .53. In 12-13 he had an extra 5 PP points that were unsustainable which would have lowered his Pts/G to .67 more in-line with his average.
In 2013-14 he wasn’t really as bad on the power play he just didn’t factor in on as much PP scoring. If his IPP normalized to .66 he would have had an extra 4 points. Which would have brought his Pts/G from .55 –> .61. That doesn’t even take into affect that his PDO was 92.2. Which I’m not going to get into.
So far this is just scoring, which is what Gagner’s specialty is, even though he doesn’t bring enough offense to the table. Let’s take a look at his Corsi stats again a hat tip to HockeyAnalysis.com.
|Season||Age||Corsi %||NHL Rank|
First, there’s some good things. His rookie year he put up a Corsi% of 46.1 and .62 Pts/G which I think is pretty good. If Draistail does this we should be happy. Between his 19 – 22 seasons we see a player that based on his linemates, the Oilers were close to expansion level during these years, Gagner proved that he could play. Then it came crashing down in 2012-13. I looked at the Oiler’s shot rate’s previously, I need to update this for the 2013-14 season. Regardless, Gagner had a steep decline in production starting in 2012-13.
So what happened in 2012-13. The Oilers changed head coaches & implemented an organizational philosophy on how to develop young players. Here’s a quote from Tom Renney “In Edmonton, I was asked to give more playing time to more young players who’d had an operation to play. I reduced their playing time. But we had to play them, because they were really good and we were selling hope. But I acted according to my conscience.” Thanks 6 rings!
Here’s a list chart that shows Gagner’s Ice Time per year and how he was deployed by his head coach.
|2007-08||18||15:41||52.8 (3)||Craig MacTavish|
|2008-09||19||16:46||55.4 (1)||Pat Quinn|
|2009-10||20||16:17||48.8 (5)||Tom Renney|
|2010-11||21||17:45||50.9 (7)||Tom Renney|
|2011-12||22||17:11||54.1 (4)||Tom Renney|
|2012-13||23||19:25||51.4 (4)||Ralph Krueger|
|2013-14||24||18:23||55.6 (5)||Dallas Eakins|
So Sam Gagner was developing nicely according to the above data, the Oiler’s decide he needed to be pushed a little harder and he get’s more ice time .
I wonder where this team would be if the Oiler’s had kept Renney. Willis in 2012 wrote why firing Renney would be a bad move. The Oilers are starting to get things moving in the right direction but there was two years of which the Oilers brass ‘helped’ the development that in all likelihood harmed the development of Sam Gagner.
When Sam was drafted; he was gave us hope, had a strong rookie year, struggled, had a fun night in February, ‘yada yada yada Gagner was traded never to be heard from again …