After being seen as the future face of the Edmonton Oilers for three seasons, will Sam Gagner end up being just an afterthought in the very near future? Hall is obviously the new Sheriff in town, but beyond that there's Paajarvi, Eberle, and even young Tyler Pitlick that could soon surpass a seemingly stalled out Gagner.
Gagner is like a truck stuck in third gear, he got through first and second in a hurry, but now the engine is screaming while he's just trying to do the speed limit. While Eberle and Paajarvi toiled in the WHL and SEL respectively, Gagner gained NHL experience. What has he actually done with that experience? Will he finally take the bull by the horns this year? At what point does he go from cornerstone to spare part?
At this point if Gagner wants a lengthy career in Edmonton he had better hope that Taylor Hall sticks to being a winger. If Hall becomes a center and Pitlick continues to progress into a big and physical second line center, Gagner becomes trade bait.
I guess it can be seen as a positive sign that all of a sudden we potentially have four young forwards under the age of 21 that could turn out to be better than Gagner in the near future, however does that speak to how good they are or how poorly Gagner has progressed? Maybe a bit of both?
Sam Gagner, you're on notice, time to step it up or get passed and lapped by four kids younger than you that have yet to play a second of NHL hockey.