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Gagner returns home to the Oilers


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  I meant to post this a few days ago when it happened, sorry it is a bit late.....


  Sam Gagner is back with the Oilers after being traded for the husk of Ryan Spooner from the Canucks. Honestly, I wish him well.


  He was the 6th pick in his draft class back when the Oilers were consistently drafting high, he was taken right ahead of Voracek and Couture and huge things were expected. The Oilers rushed him, he was never as good as he was supposed to be, he was a center who couldn't win faceoffs or a winger who wasn't physical enough to set up in front of the net or fast enough to put fear into opposing defenses. In seven years in Edmonton he averaged 14 goals and 42 points which are solid 3rd line numbers but because he showed flashes of so much more but couldn't sustain it he was finally moved out to Arizona where he had more or less the same year with the Coyotes followed by a lost year with the Flyers and then finally found his calling with the Jackets in 2016-17.

  Now I know a lot of folks hate Torts, both in the game and among fans but guys like Gagner have always been his bread and butter, reclamation projects who have skill but have been misused. Torts made him a power play specialist and a very good 3rd liner, kept his minutes in the defensive zone to a minimum and Gagner responded with a career high in goals (18) and points (50) and was a career high plus ten. He was an UFA at years end, and that is where he screwed up, he signed with the Canucks who had no idea how to use him, signing for three years at 3.1 million. Columbus wanted him back but on a two year deal at around the same money, he took the extra year and slipped back to 31 points and this year was stunned when the Canucks sent him to Utica of the AHL where he has toiled other than the occasional injury which forced a callup.

 I like Gagner, I have always felt he was misused, first in Edmonton then Philly, finally in Vancouver. There are many things he cannot do, but he has offensive acumen and can play the power play quite well. In his entire career only Torts has taken advantage of his skills and managed to not put him on a path towards failure by asking him to do things he is not capable of doing. 

 Now with Hitch, I dont know, he could be in a good position, on a power play with McDavid and Draisatl he could find himself given an opportunity and take advantage of it, he certainly has to be better than Kassian or Lucic or Spooner for that matter. I have to admit I am rooting for him, he handled his demotion with grace, I read somewhere that his kid had just started school and he didn't want to have the wife and kids follow him to Utica and change schools so they stayed in Vancouver and he came back to visit whenever possible and kept his head down and kept smiling and did his job. I remember the year he had in Columbus, he looked happy, he looked like the weight of the world was off his shoulders as someone figured out how to get the best out of him. Guys like this, I just have to root for it to fall in place for. I hope he catches a break and his second time in Edmonton is a good experience for him.


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