Sam Gagner

 

A couple events have impacted the Edmonton roster over the past six weeks and they have opened up some opportunities for the youngsters.

Some of them have really taken advantage.

 

(Originally posted at The Hockey News on March 03)

 


No. 1 center Shawn Horcoff suffered a season-ending shoulder injury Feb. 1 and has missed the last 13 contests. Sam Gagner and Andrew Cogliano are both young, highly skilled centers with a lot of potential and each of them move up the depth chart with this news.

They haven’t disappointed. Gagner, an 18-year-old who was drafted sixth overall last summer has 14 points in that span. The added ice time will do wonders for his learning curve and, as a result, he could be that point-per-game player within a couple of seasons.

Cogliano, 20, was the 25th overall pick in 2005. He has 10 points in that 13-game span and his development has also been expedited. It will be fun watching these two kids develop into elite NHLers, not to mention elite fantasy players to own.

Another significant event was the trade of defenseman Dick Tarnstrom to Columbus. With the veteran out of the way, along with the loss of Sheldon Souray to a shoulder injury, Tom Gilbert and Denis Grebeshkov are seeing more ice. Each of those youngsters has seven points in the 13 games since Tarnstrom was dealt.

In Grebeshkov’s case, that accounts for more than half of his season total. Both Grebeshkov and Gilbert have the potential to surpass the 55-point mark some day, although I like Gilbert’s odds a little more.

Finally, we have hard-luck captain Ethan Moreau, who left midway through the Feb. 24 game against the Colorado Avalanche with a broken leg. In the three and a half contests since the injury, winger Robert Nilsson has four points. The 23-year-old has boom-or-bust potential. He could be an 80-point star, or he could be a letdown along the same lines of Radek Dvorak.

It’s always good for fantasy owners to get a sneak preview of what the young, skilled players can do in the future. You’re seeing that right now in Edmonton…

Farm Report: Nashville prospect Cal O’Reilly is a two-way center who is valued more for his defense than his offense. Try telling that to O’Reilly, who is third in American League scoring with 64 points in 62 games. The fact the team already likes his defensive conscience tells me the 21-year-old will be an NHLer one day. The fact he has a scoring touch at the pro level indicates he should be a 60-point NHL player before he turns 30, with an upside of 70 points, or even more – depending on his opportunity. He should challenge for a roster spot in the fall…

The Islanders have taken notice of undrafted prospect Trevor Smith. The 23-year-old former college star played his way out of the ECHL and onto Bridgeport, the Islanders’ AHL affiliate, in December. After starting slowly and seeing little opportunity, Smith has 19 points in his past 19 contests. With this kind of play, he is one to watch…

 

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