Top Players to Follow in Arizona Coyotes Training Camp

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5. Sam Gagner

Mar 28, 2014; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers forward Sam Gagner (89) looks to make a pass in front of Anaheim Ducks defensemen Sami Vatanen (45) during the second period at Rexall Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

There seem to be two theories floating around about Sam Gagner.

The first is that he wasn’t happy in Edmonton, never really hitting his stride due to his dissent with the organization he was playing for. This theory is supported by the center’s hot streaks- his natural talent level is much higher than his numbers would indicate, meaning that it’s possible that the change of scenery is exactly what the 25-year-old needs.

The second, of course, is that he’s a lazy, inconsistent player who can’t hold on to a hot streak for long enough to put up the kind of numbers that matter. This theory is more concerning for Coyotes fans, although the imminent demotion of Gagner from the second line in Edmonton to the third line in Arizona means that his numbers will be more than acceptable for his position, consistent or no.

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Of course, Gagner is coming in to purportedly replace the recently bought out Mike Ribeiro, and it’s unlikely that he’ll be putting up the kinds of numbers to make him a suitable replacement. Unless he finds his rhythm on a line with Rob Klinkhammer and (potentially) Max Domi, this acquisition could end up being the dud that keeps the desert dogs out of playoff contention for yet another season.

Keep an eye out during Training Camp to see what kind of progress Gagner seems to make. Fans should watch for interactions between Gagner and Tippett as well as Gagner and his new teammates, and should look to see what sort of effort he seems to put in.