Saturday, September 7, 2013

Sam Gagner Autographed Card

I'd been holding out, not writing about this card for a while, because of the numerous rumours about Sam Gagner eventually getting traded by the Edmonton Oilers over the years. Many writers, particularly journalists assigned to the Oilers, were losing patience over a perceived ''regression'' in his play, which I always thought were unfounded:

- he got 49 points, including 13 goals,  in 79 games in his rookie year.
- he got 41 points on 16 goals in 79 games his sophomore season.
- he got 41 points (on 15 goals) again in his third year, but in just 68 games.
- he played 68 games again in his fourth season, with one more point (42).
- in 2011-12, he got 18 goals and 45 points in 75 games.
- he got 20 points in 21 KHL games last year, to go with his 14 goals and 38 points in the NHL's lockout-shirtened season last year.

Goal totals up and/or steady, point totals as well, playing on the first line at first, then more and more sparsely as the Oilers drafted better and younger centers (Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Nail Yakupov). Along the line, he now owns three Oilers team records: most points in a game (8, tied with Wayne Gretzky and Paul Coffey), most points in a period (5, tied with Jari Kurri), and most consecutive points (11).

Reading some papers and comments on the web, you'd be under the impression he'd played himself out of the top-9; looking at the statistics, he's a definite top-6. The truth probably lies somewhere in the middle, as consistency isn't his strongest suit. 11 points in three games can easily follow 4 scoreless games that also happen to fall in a two-week span so it looks and feels even longer. The reality of it is most NHL players nowadays go on roller coaster-like highs and lows throughout a long, arduous 82-game schedule, and Gagner's more talented than the majority of them.

He's 24 years old and for the next decade or so, he'll likely climb into the 60-70 point range with one or two peaks over the 80-point mark. With the talent level in Edmonton, it's quite possible he might even register 100 points in a season/playoff combination.

I have faith. Then again, it's easier to have a 45-point man hover between your second and third lines for years than to have a top-3 defenseman struggle, or worse, put the wrong starting goalie in net for years while trading away others who do a much better job.

I met the Oilers' first-round pick (6th overall in 2007) after a game at the Bell Centre in 2009-10. He signed this card for me in blue sharpie (though, honestly, it looks like he signed it and didn't care, as it just drifts off, probably thinking because I was older than he was and a tad overweight I was going to sell it on Ebay or something):


It's card #44 in Upper Deck's 2007-08 Rookie Box Set (all Rookie Class cards). On it, he sports the Oilers' first Reebok Edge white (away) uniform, which totally look like practice jerseys with awful piping; I'm sure glad they went retro with their uniforms.

I had tried to send him 4 cards in January 2011, to no avail.

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