Over the past several years, I’ve been drawing parallels between the careers of Sam Gagner and Kyle Wellwood (and suffered a great deal of derision for doing so).
However, with Gagner moving on to Arizona, perhaps the fanboys will now be open to taking a closer look at the evidence.
The careers of the two small centres did not start out in lock step, since Wellwood was drafted in the 5th round in the 2001 entry draft, while Gagner was drafted 6th overall in 2007.
Wellwood would spend a couple of seasons in the AHL posting very good numbers while Gagner was thrust immediately into a seething cauldron of suck and was seen as the brightest bauble of a dreadful team.
While Gagner managed to score 49 points in his rookie season, he has never matched that output again and, based on his overall performance, would seem to have managed 1 years’ experience 7 times.
Wellwood’s best season would come in 2011/12 when he posted 18G and 47P in 77 games which is almost identical to Gagner’s best.
Wellwood’s career was derailed by injury 5 years after he was drafted and, other than his brief resurgence in Winnipeg, he was never able to recapture his career momentum and, at the age of 30, is out of hockey.
Gagner, as everyone is aware, suffered a broken jaw in his 6th NHL season and was pretty dreadful in all aspects of the game last season before being moved to Tampa and then Arizona.
So, what can we expect from Gagner in Arizona?
The Coyotes are absolutely starved for offence so I can imagine Gagner will be given every chance to succeed but head coach Dave Tippet is also a defensive task master and, unless Gagner can quickly develop a 2 way game he never displayed in Edmonton, he may find himself in the doghouse.
So, what can we expect from Sam in his first season in Arizona?
I’ll defer to TSN’s Scott Cullen who has been ranking every player’s fantasy expectations for the upcoming NHL season and is very reasonable in his projections.
He has pegged Gagner to score 15G and 45P, which is slightly less than he scored as a rookie.
In his 7th NHL season, Kyle Wellwood scored 18G and 47P.
Eerie isn’t it?