Oilers’ Sam Gagner committed to stick in NHL as career comes full circle

ST. PAUL, Minn. — When young Sam Gagner arrived in Edmonton back in 2007, the Oilers were rebuilding.

“Attention Toronto Maple Leafs,” advised this reporter, in a March 2008 piece in the National Post. “If you must rebuild, then this is the way to do it.”

“You feel it in the room,” gushed head coach Craig MacTavish. “I feel it and sense it, and normally if the coach feels it, you’re the last guy to feel the optimism of improvement.”

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General manager Kevin Lowe, awash in money in the NHL’s new economy, issued a seven-year, $50 million Group 2 offer sheet to Buffalo’s Tomas Vanek that summer. When the Sabres matched it, the money still burning a hole in Lowe’s pocket, he settled on UFA defenceman Sheldon Souray at $27 million over five years.

“We’re building that foundation for the future: a great group of core guys,” a young Gagner said that autumn. “We’re getting better as a team and enjoying every moment.”

For Gagner, as for the Oilers, the future did not unfold quite as it seemed it would that fall. The sixth overall selection in the 2007 draft, Gagner would become the first of the rushed-into-the-rebuild Oilers first-rounders, playing 79 fairly productive NHL games as an 18-year-old.

“When it happened originally, I didn’t feel rushed,” he said on Sunday, freshly called up from the minor leagues by the 2019 Oilers, a team he ash circled back to after stops in Arizona, Philadelphia, Columbus and Vancouver. “I had a good first season (13 goals, 49 points), but when you go through some of the struggles, some …read more

Source:: Sportsnet.ca

      

Raiders’ David Sharpe stands tall as replacement for Trent Brown

ALAMEDA — The last thing an offensive lineman wants to hear is his name on the loudspeaker, and it happened twice to David Sharpe in the late first and early second quarter against the Green Bay Packers.

In his first start since the end of the 2017 season, Sharpe was starting at right tackle in place of Trent Brown, who couldn’t play because of a left calf strain. No pressure, really. Sharpe was not only replacing the highest paid lineman in NFL history, but a player who has played as if he deserves that distinction.

And twice in the same drive Sharpe was called for holding, the second time nullifying a would-be 29-yard touchdown pass from Derek Carr to Darren Waller.

The Raiders went on to score anyway on an 86-yard drive, and the rest of the day for Sharpe was uneventful — a description any lineman can appreciate.

“It was a little shaky at first, but I got in my groove later in the game,” Sharpe said Monday the day after a 42-24 loss to the Packers. “It’s been two years since I played so I definitely needed it to get back in the groove and get everything together.”

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Sharpe, 6-foot-6 and 330 pounds, played all 66 offensive snaps. Coach Jon Gruden said Friday both Sharpe and Brandon Parker would play if Brown couldn’t go. Sharpe was playing so well there was no need to make a switch, as Parker played just two snaps as an extra blocker in a power formation.

“I practiced all week, they said I would be the guy if Trent didn’t go,” Sharpe said. “So they believed in me, that gave me confidence, and let me go the whole game.”

Gruden said at his weekly press conference if the Raiders …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Sports

      

Healthy Scratch: Wayne Gretzky is always on the lookout for a bargain

In this week’s episode of Healthy Scratch, kids headline the week that was, we chat with Kim Coates of ‘Bad Blood’, ‘Goon’, and ‘Sons of Anarchy’ fame, another goal of the year candidate, a week of bad plays, and some stick taps.

The post Daily Flames Roundtable: Czarnik’s recent play, Alan Quine and the Ducks appeared first on Sportsnet.ca.

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Source:: Sportsnet.ca

      

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