James O'Brien

Hockey Daily Dose

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Getting the band back together

Wednesday, February 27, 2013


I’ll never forget digitized Bill Clement’s anecdote from one of the older EA NHL video games: “Peter Forsberg calls Simon Gagne the best pure goal-scorer he’s ever played with.”

That’s some hearty praise, but before concussions threw his career into serious turmoil, the speedy winger was something special. He had two 40+ and two more 30+ seasons with the Philadelphia Flyers, who brought Gagne back from the Los Angeles Kings for a fourth-round pick that will turn into a third-rounder if the Flyers scratch their way into the 2013 playoffs.

Looking at Gagne’s 2013 stats, he seems like a shell of a shell of a shell of himself. How can the best pure sniper Foppa ever laid his eyes on have just five points - all assists - in 11 ineffective games for Los Angeles?

Well, there’s little doubt that age and injuries have put a whooping on him. Still, let me throw out a whacky theory: fringe forwards have an odd habit of scoring a lot more when they’re released from the shackles of the Kings’ system.

Teddy Purcell went from a nobody to a guy worth noting. Lars Eller is a nice piece some think could help the Habs land Ryan O’Reilly. Even Andrei Loktionov is already flourishing in New Jersey, with three points in four games.

Does that mean Gagne is a no-brainer? Not necessarily, but there are other things to like. He’s in the emboldening Flyers system, which has transformed silver guys like Jakub Voracek, Scott Hartnell and Wayne Simmonds to gold.

Gagne’s also in a contract year and should have a clear path to solid opportunities because Tye McGinn (two weeks) and Matt Read (at least a month) are on the shelf.

Sure, he could also be a retread relegated to fourth line duty like Mike Knuble, but Gagne’s just 32 (an old 32, yet still). I’m not saying rush out and grab him, but at least put the guy on your watch list.

Oh yeah, he’s in a contract year, too.


I’ve mentioned him before, but seriously, what about the work by Evander Kane? It’s been a good year for players with his last name, as Patrick Kane is following a similar path of controversy followed by career-best work.

Anyway, Kane should be especially appreciated because he likely came quite a bit cheaper. After a cold start to February, he’s absolutely on fire; Kane now has an eight-game points streak. Instead of settling for a measly goal or assist as he did in the previous seven contests, he poured it on with a two-goal, one-assist night against the New York Rangers.

His full stats are a delight:

19 GP, 9 G, 9 A, 18 P, +2, 25 PIM, 3 GWG and 75 SOG. (Especially love the hearty shot and PIM totals.)


Matt Duchene is dealing with a groin injury. He’s been downright sensational this season, so hopefully it’s only a few days …  Cal Clutterbuck is on the IR. Don’t be glum about it, though; this will allow him time to watch more hockey. I hear Taylor Hall is fun to follow … Whoever had Feb. 26 in a Sami Salo (lower-body) injury pool, collect your winnings at the front desk … Congrats to Tomas Kopecky on his first career hat trick. I’ll even give him credit for an ENG because it featured a high level of difficulty … Braden Holtby might just be worth an expensive draft pick, after all. Color me surprised … Derick Brassard’s day-to-day with an upper-body injury. His name is tricky to spell, by the way … Martin Brodeur's on the IR now ... Looks like Kari Lehtonen might return on Thursday ... Both Alexander Steen and Andy McDonald were hurt in Blues practice on Tuesday. Not good … Marcus Johansson is day-to-day with an upper-body issue. Thanks to concussions, I’m always more worried when I see UBI instead of LBI, even if those guys could be suffering something as insignificant as tennis elbow for all we know.

James O'Brien is the Hockey Daily Dose's author and has been a contributor to NBC's Pro Hockey Talk for more than four years. Follow him on Twitter.
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