Saturday, August 13, 2011

The Case: Sam Gagner vs. The World

Young Sam is at a crossroads in his NHL career. How is he going to take the next step in his progression. To go from good to better than good. Here I will outline the things that Sam will have to improve on in order for Sam to take the next step with the Oilers.

- Shooting - The Oilers are heavily filled with playmaking wingers, so if Sam is going to play center, he's going to have to be much better off the puck. Find open spaces on the ice and use a quick release. Buy an old dryer start shooting, young Sam. Break the Jebus out of it. You've been trained to be a surveyor of the ice, now the layouts have changed. The Oilers deperately need you to shoot the puck. There is enough players on the team that pass up shots. More importantly, work on the one-timer, on the power play. many players have made a living doing this and you can too.

- Defensive play - Play recognition is crucial. Minus double digit years can no longer apply. Hopefully they don't saddle you with two rooks this year. I know, I know, Omark can't check his hat, but he's trying the best he can. The key for you Sam is keep the play in front of you. Don't get caught behind the other team's net because you are asking for trouble if the finds itself going the other way. Keep the play in front of you and stop chasing. Understand what the other center is trying to do to you and stop before it gets started. You wanna be on a great team Sam? You are going to have to play both ends equally effectively.

- Core strength - Now Sam, you cannot be effective if you keep falling on your ass. So, here's my advice, avoid strength battles by play recognition and knowing where your outlets should be. Keep a good stick. If you know how plays are going to breakdown before the puck hits your stick, then you'll know what to do when the puck gets there. Puck movement speed is the key. Making sure the puck is moving in the right direction and not hanging anyone out to dry. Strengths battles are inevitable in every game, the key making sure you can live to fight another battle.

Breakdown: Essentially Sam is going to have to morph himself from a playmaking offensive center, to a two-way shooting center. Can he make the transition? We'll find out soon enough, if he can, maybe the Oilers can start talking playoffs.

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