How Much Will Sam Gagner Need To Improve To Keep Oilers' Fans Happy?

GLENDALE AZ - NOVEMBER 23: Sam Gagner #89 of the Edmonton Oilers skates with the puck under presure from Shane Doan #19 of the Phoenix Coyotes during the NHL game at Jobing.com Arena on November 23 2010 in Glendale Arizona. The Coyotes defeated the Oilers 5-0. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

In my comparables post on Sam Gagner, I came up with the following group of players with similar production (normalized in order to compare different eras) to Gagner at some point in the early part of their careers:

Aaron Broten, Adam Creighton, Alan Haworth, Bengt-Ake Gustafsson, Bernie Nicholls, Bob Pulford, Bobby Carpenter, Brian Bellows, Brian Bradley, Butch Goring, Dale Hunter, Dan Quinn, Darren Turcotte, Dave Andreychuk, Dave Christian, Dave Keon, David Legwand, Daymond Langkow, Derek Plante, Don Lever, Don McKenney, Doug Gilmour, Garry Unger, Greg Malone, Guy Chouinard, Ivan Boldirev, Jim Fox, Jimmy Carson, John Chabot, John Tucker, Jozef Stumpel, Marc Savard, Martin Straka, Mel Bridgman, Mike Ricci, Murray Oliver, Nelson Emerson, Patrick Marleau, Paul Gardner, Pelle Eklund, Peter McNab, Peter Zezel, Pit Martin, Ralph Backstrom, Ray Ferraro, Robert Reichel, Ron Duguay, Ron Flockhart, Russ Courtnall, Scott Gomez, Stephen Weiss, Steve Kasper, Thomas Steen, Tim Young, Vincent Damphousse

Their results in their 23, 24 and 25 year old seasons stack up like this:

Of the 55 comparable players, 37 of them increased production during the following three years with an average increase of 24%. 18 of the comparable players lost ground, with an average decrease of -13%.

The biggest increases in production came from Jozef Stumpel (146%), Daymond Langkow (96%) and Doug Gilmour (85%). The biggest fall-offs came from Ron Flockhart (-27%), Bobby Carpenter (-25%) and Jimmy Carson (-25%).

The median change in production was 10.2%. If Gagner were to increase his production by 10.2%, his offensive production would improve to 54 points per 82 games, or .662 points per game. That number adjusted is 58 points per 82, close the production of Stephen Weiss, Thomas Steen, Jim Fox, Dave Christian, Tim Young, Dale Hunter and Murray Oliver.

Those numbers in a present-day context place Gagner as the 38th-highest scoring centre in the NHL. Currently, Gagner sits 44th A 15% improvement places Gagner 32nd in scoring by NHL centres. Is a top-ten second line centre good enough for Oilers' fans?

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