Prospect, prime or on the way down?
I like a 5-year post-draft period for prospect status, after which players graduate. This is Gagner's 5th year in the league, and the last I would consider him a prospect.
ESP/60 1.91 (2nd)
CORSI REL 7.0 (4th)
Is that good or bad?
Gagner's numbers, traditional and advanced, have stayed mostly the same throughout his career. How much of it was due to his progress being hampered by bring rushed? How much of it is due to the Oilers playing musical coaches (he had MacTavish for two years, then one each with Quinn and Renney)? He's been consistent, but you really do want to see some improvement.
Are those numbers likely to get better or worse?
If Renney gives him 1C minutes, the boxcars should improve. If he stays at 2C, then the numbers probably follow.
Aside from numbers, what does he bring to the club?
Gagner's shifty and smart, but has a propensity to get knocked off the puck easily, so much so that a drinking game in his name would do just nicely. Gagner's knocked down? Have a drink! Still, Gagner can make a smart pass, has soft hands, and carries the puck well. Overrated on the shootout.
What's his spot in the depth chart?
Ask Tom Renney, because I think it's 50/50 between 1C and 2C. If he wants Shawn Horcoff to centre a heavy lifting line, Gagner gets 1st line minutes. If Renney focuses on development again, and not so much line matching, Gagner get 2nd line time. On a decent club, he's not a first-liner.
Will he be a key Oiler in 2012?
Definitely. His development should be a particular area of interest to the club... Unless he's traded tomorrow. See last question.
Are there any wildcards with this player which can affect him and the club?
Not really. he's not a gamebreaker.
Keep or scrap?
The Oilers are at a bit of a nexus with Gagner where they'll either grow tired and send him away or decide to stay with him. As of now, Gagner is a legit NHL player, even if he isn't the star player some (incorrectly) thought he would be. You know those teams (ummm... Oilers?) that spend 20 or so years playing mediocre hockey? One thing they pretty much all have in common is trading off good prospects because they're not great prospects. If he's dealt, the package needs to be strong, because they've already invested 4 years into developing him. It would be a shame if they did just to produce a player for another team.
He is what he is. I'd keep him. The world's not full of 21-year olds with almost 200 NHL points to their name.
Tambellini and Lowe have to go!