2016-17 Blue Jackets Player Reviews: Sam Gagner
The winger on a one year deal played well for half of the season.
Sam Gagner - 2016-17 Stats
Games played: 81
Goals: 18 (tied career high)
Points: 50 (career high)
Time on ice: 13:43
Penalty Minutes: 22
Corsi For (even strength): 54.8%
Sam Gagner was signed by the Columbus Blue Jackets last summer on a one year “prove it” deal worth $650,000. Gagner has bounced around the league after never living up to his billing as the 6th overall pick in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft. Gagner himself understood his chance with the Blue Jackets to perhaps be his last one to stick in the league permanently. The question was - what kind of performance would the Blue Jackets get from the well traveled veteran?
For the first half of the season, Gagner was everything the Blue Jackets could have dreamed of and more. Through the end of the 16 game winning streak, Gagner registered 14 goals and 14 assists, far outpacing his performance with the Philadelphia Flyers the season before. He was a key cog on the league’s best power play through the first two months of the season and looked to be having a breakthrough season. His vision and playmaking abilities were keys to the hot start for the Blue Jackets.
The second half of the season was much less kind to Gagner. He scored 4 goals after the winning streak ended, was moved all over the lineup, lost his spot on the first power play unit to Oliver Bjorkstrand, and saw his production dip. Gagner’s flexibility allowed him to play both center and wing to account for injuries down the stretch, but his offensive contributions just weren’t there.
So, where does Gagner go from here? According to Tom Reed of the Columbus Dispatch, Columbus has expressed an interest in keeping him here.
Sam Gagner says he's had preliminary talks with #CBJ about new contract, but not sure what future holds. Has enjoyed season here.— Tom Reed (@treed1919) April 22, 2017
Gagner may be looking for more money or a longer term than Columbus is willing to provide, however, and I strongly suspect this to be the case. With so many prospects coming through the ranks, Gagner would be a luxury on the roster, despite the flexibility he provides.
If Gagner only played one season here, it will be a memorable one. He helped the Blue Jackets to their best season in franchise history and was a key part of the second longest winning streak in NHL history. He was a good player and a better person. Rooting for Sam Gagner to succeed this season was easy and hopefully he can find a home in the NHL for the next few seasons, be it in Columbus or elsewhere.
Thanks for the memories, Sam.