I had and article detailing Sam Gagner's comparables ready to go for this morning, until I was inspired by this comment from Copper & Blue regular melancholyculkin:
If you use the criteria of top 30=1st line, top 60=2nd line then Gagner is already a second-line center. He was the 49th highest scoring center last season. If he had played a full year and scored 50 points last year he would be 36th.
I decided to look at Gagner's 2010-11 rank among centres in a number of different offensive categories. Even though I ranked him second on my Top 25 Under 25 ballot, I was surprised by what I found.
Using the always-dashing Gabriel Desjardins' behindthenet.ca data, I looked up Gagner's rank among centres in the following categories: points, even strength points per 60 minutes, even strength goals per 60 minutes, even strength assists per 60 minutes and even strength goals for on per 60 minutes.
As you can see, not only does Gagner rate solidly as a second-line centre in points, but even strength points, and even strength goals for on as well. He lags in even strength goals, ranking among the third-line centres and shines in even strength assists, ranking among the first-line centres at 23rd overall.
After four years, Gagner is proving to be exactly what he was drafted to be -- a play-making centre. He's going to be 22 years old and though his development hasn't been ideal, he's already a second-line centre. Give Gagner some linemates and he's a first-line centre. Force him to carry a line on his own, and he's not capable. Yet. Given age and progression, it's only a matter of time.