Sam Gagner Quietly Putting Together a Great Season for the Edmonton Oilers

Adam BowenContributor IIIFebruary 21, 2013

Now in his sixth year with the Oilers, Sam Gagner is starting to put it all together.
Now in his sixth year with the Oilers, Sam Gagner is starting to put it all together.Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

Sam Gagner was part of the original group of young stars that were supposed to be the core for the Edmonton Oilers when they drafted him with the sixth pick in the 2007 NHL entry draft.

While Gagner has consistently managed around 40 points per season, he has yet to really prove that he is a legitimate top-six forward.

Gagner may seem like a cagey veteran on such a young team, but the gifted playmaker from London, Ontario is only 23 and seems to be re-energized by the current crop of Oilers youngsters.

Gagner's strong start this season can most certainly be attributed to the quality linemates he has been paired with this year.

Ales Hemsky and Nail Yakupov have found excellent chemistry with Gagner, and with three offensively gifted forwards on one line, more space has become available.

With all of the hype surrounding "The Kid Line" of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jordan Eberle and Taylor Hall, Gagner has been allowed to fly under the radar. 

Now in his sixth season, Gagner has shown both physical maturity and on ice maturity as his role with the Oilers has slightly changed. 

Currently leading the Oilers with 16 points, Gagner has managed to collect at least one point in 15 of the Edmonton's first 17 games.

A model of consistency, Gagner has demonstrated patience and vision during five-on-five play, but has also excelled on the Oilers' second powerplay unit. 

The Oilers have shown patience with Gagner over the forward's six seasons in Edmonton, and Gagner is starting to live up to the potential shown during rookie campaign when he registered a career-high 49 points.

Not all aspects of his game have been as strong this year, as Gagner has struggled in the faceoff circle, holding a 40-percent faceoff percentage. 

The Oilers will need Gagner to improve on this aspect of his game if they are going to be a legitimate threat, but his offensive production this season has certainly overshadowed this deficiency. 

The ability to produce points has always been there for Gagner, most prominently displayed during his eight-point outburst against the Chicago Blackhawks last season, and now the consistency is starting to round into shape.