(Photo credit: Amy Irvin, 38 Photography)
Will the Flyers Miss Sam Gagner?
Many Flyers fans were ecstatic when the news broke this past summer that Nick Grossmann and Chris Pronger were shipped out for Sam Gagner and a conditional fourth round pick (that can become a third rounder) and there was cheering in the streets. Over the summer, I even used Gagner’s known career curve to explain how to use him properly. Now, nearing the halfway point of the regular season, Gagner’s been waived and sent to the AHL ending the Sam Gagner experiment.
Obviously, the Flyers would have preferred to shoot Vincent Lecavalier into another galaxy, but the Holmgren NMC Special means that Vinny’s not going anywhere, so it came down to Gagner, the waiver exempt Scott Laughton and RJ Umberger. Umberger has an odd NMC, that traveled with him from Columbus blocking waivers, which left Gagner and Laughton as the only options. By waiving Sam Gagner, the Flyers actually cleared 90K more in cap space than if Laughton went down. So, even with the bury penalty, the Flyers are actually saving more raw dollars.
Of course, the bad news with this is, Vinny Lecavalier may need to play. In that respect, the Flyers will miss Gagner, who is a far superior player to Vinny. Of course, the flip side is, if Vinny gets into 20-25 more games and plays well, the trade Vinny miracle might come true. Or Vinny could wake up, realize his career is over and accept a permanent LTIR spot until his contract expires.
However, none of this answers exactly what the Flyers are missing.
Via Own the Puck
Based on his last three seasons, the Flyers could have expected to get a solid offensive playmaking threat For a player with a fairly consistent 0.6 point per game/or nearly 50 points per 82 games, the Flyers could have had high expectations for Gagner. Sadly, it seems like injuries finally caught up to him.
Via Hockey Viz
His WOWY chart showed that Gagner’s cluster was on the wrong end of break even possession. Only RJ Umberger seemingly was good with Gagner, and that was in a paltry 27 minutes together. In all, Gagner never got going in Philly, and the injuries probably sped up that process.
Via Behind the Net
At a Negative 7 Corsi Rel, Gagner wasn’t driving possession. Unlike Bellemarre and VandeVelde, Gagner doesn’t kill penalties to make up for a lackluster 5v5 play. He was expendable. Also, Gagner wasn’t drawing penalties either to make up for it. Oddly, the Flyers waiving a guy with a 1033 PDO and 972 On Ice SV% is a huge sign the Flyers understand how PDO works at some level. Normally, guys running good luck like this find themselves playing more, not waived to the AHL. So, in this regard, Hextall may have made a savvy move to avoid regression.
The Sam Gagner experiment may be over, and between Petr Straka and Nick Cousins, the Flyers are setup and ready to replace him too.
At least we’ll always have his powerplay goal.