Sam Gagner was taken sixth overall by the Edmonton Oilers in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft. After a slow start to the season, he managed to pick up his game in November and December.
To date, Gagner has 16 points and three goals. In the last two months, he's earned a spot on the top line with Shawn Horcoff and Ales Hemsky.
Gagner helped lead Team Canada to a gold medal at the 2007 World U-20 Championships. He was also named the MVP of the Canada-Russia Super Series. Coming into training camp in September, nobody expected the youngster to compete for an NHL roster spot—but he proved the doubters wrong.
Come December, Team Canada officials hoped to recruit Gagner for another stint at the U-20 Championships. But GM Kevin Lowe rejected the idea, and made Gagner stick with the Oilers.
Sam seemed to have no problem with the decision—until coach Craig MacTavish pulled the rookie from the lineup.
While Canada was winning another gold medal, Gagner was watching the Oilers from the press box. He must have been quite disappointed to be see both teams play without him.
On January 5th, Gagner was back in the lineup against the New York Rangers. He responded with a shootout winner to seal the game.
In the two games Gagner sat out, the Oilers notched a narrow victory in St. Louis and suffered a difficult defeat to the Predators.
Could Gagner have made a difference? Would he have been the key to get those needed points?
Whatever the answer, you can bet Gagner will stay in the Oilers lineup for the foreseeable future.