Don’t put Sam Gagner on the list of locked-out NHLers disappointed with their time playing abroad.
The Edmonton forward has been plying his trade with Klagenfurter of the Austrian League during the work stoppage, and recently told the Edmonton Sun he’s thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
“It was a good opportunity for me to play and develop as a player,” Gagner explained. “It’s a league with a really high pace, so it forces me to really move my legs and I think that’s a really good thing for me going forward.”
The 23-year-old is currently on hiatus from Klagenfurter — he was part of Team Canada’s Spengler Cup-winning side — and it’s unclear if he’ll return to Austria, or head back to North America to wait for the start of the NHL season.
Either way, Gagner’s time in the EBEL (Erste Bank Eishockey Liga) has been a positive.
He racked up 10G-8A-18PTS in 19 games and also reunited with former Oilers teammate Andrew Cogliano, now with the Anaheim Ducks.
Cogliano also relished his time in Austria, albeit in a different manner than Gagner.
The Ducks forward joined Klagenfurter last month and described the experience as a reality check, citing long bus rides, small crowds and questionable officiating that made him appreciative of what he has in the NHL.
“It really does humble you,” he told the Toronto Star. “I know when I go back I won’t be taking much for granted. I can see myself playing even harder now [with the Ducks] and make sure I’m fighting for my job every game because we have it really good back home.
“We do things in the NHL that guys here wouldn’t even imagine.”
Get set for the Heritage Classic with hot dog facts and more
The Winnipeg Jets host the Edmonton Oilers at the 2016 Heritage Classic at Investors Group Field this afternoon. You can watch it on NHL Network, Sportsnet, TVA Sports 2 or NHL.tv at 3 p.m. ET.
With that in mind, let’s get prepped with super-important stats about unhealthy food, interesting photos and fun facts.
Want to get an in-depth look at the rivalry between the Jets and the Oilers? NHL.com and Sportsnet both have some great retrospectives.
The CBC notes that there was rain ending in the morning but it’s expected to be cloudy. Overall, sounds like a nice climate for an outdoor hockey game. NHL.com’s Nick Cotsonika wonders if the sun’s glare might cause some issues.
The Arizona Coyotes received (mostly) good news on Sunday: Mike Smith‘s injury isn’t believed to be “severe,” even if he’s considered week-to-week, according to reporters including TSN’s Darren Dreger.
While Louis Domingue and Justin Peters isn’t the sort of goalie duo that will make shooters think twice about firing the puck, they’re both at least fairly experienced netminders.
(Considering Smith’s struggles with injuries and inconsistency, it’s not surprising that Arizona invested in a little insurance in Peters.)
Domingue is slated to start in net for the Coyotes against the New York Rangers on Sunday. It’s been a bumpy start for him so far, but Arizona has at least a theoretical advantage in that the Rangers played on Saturday.
As far as when Smith will be back? Well here’s a slight idea.
Dave Tippett does not think Mike Smith will be ready for home game vs. Colorado on Oct. 29, but he is not far from getting back on the ice.
Chances are, plenty of hockey fans – and maybe some members of the Colorado Avalanche – were uttering that question after Saturday night.
Well, we know this about Shane Harper: he scored his first two NHL goals at age 27, helping the Florida Panthers beat the Colorado Avalanche 5-2.
You can watch both of Harper’s goals in the recap video:
Harper also drew enough ire from the Avalanche to get into a bit of a skirmish following a hit.
So, who is Shane Harper?
For one thing, he’s from Valencia, California and did not go drafted.
His best junior season came in 2009-10, when he scored 42 goals and 80 points for the Everett Silvertips. He’s become quite the seasoned AHL veteran since then, and while his numbers won’t wow you, he did do enough in 2014-15 to maybe turn a head or two. Harper scored 32 goals and 50 points for the Chicago Wolves that season.
You can tell his teammates were happy for him – gentle ribbing and all – when the media asked about his career milestone: