After a Saturday afternoon 4-1 win for the Edmonton Oilers against the Nashville Predators, Sam Gagner, a 34-year-old veteran playing in his 17th NHL season, became the only player in league history to be with two different franchises during a 16-game winning streak. The first team he did that with was the Columbus Blue Jackets in the 2016/2017 season. I thought it would be fun to look back at some statistics during his first experience at 16 in a row.
The first game of Columbus’ 16 straight wins was a 5-1 decision over the Tampa Bay Lightning on November 29th, 2016. The sixteenth win was on January 3rd, 2017, against your Edmonton Oilers because coincidences are always funnier. That game ended with a 3-1 final score. The Washington Capitals ended their streak the following game on January 5th with a 5-0 final score. During those 16 games, Gagner put up 14 points and finished the regular season with 50 points. It remains the only time in his career that he’s reached the 50 point plateau.
Fast forward seven seasons later, and sadly, he only played in 5 of Edmonton’s 16 wins due to injury but put up a modest 3 points. The first was on the road against the New Jersey Devils on December 21st, where he had two assists on the night. He would miss the following 11 wins and was back for win #12 at home against the Seattle Kraken on January 18th. On January 20th, against the team’s provincial rivals at Scotiabank Saddledome, Gagner scored the game-winning goal early in the third period, and the Oilers passed the NHL record for most consecutive wins by a Canadian team. The record got bigger a week later. He was a healthy scratch for the win that tied Columbus’ streak on Saturday to make room for Corey Perry’s Edmonton debut.
These separate 16 win streaks would be an interesting fact for any active player. But the context behind Gagner’s career is what makes it more special. He was picked 6th overall in the 2007 NHL Draft, the first year into the Decade Of Darkness. Even when traded back to Edmonton in 2018/2019, he still didn’t see Playoff hockey with the Oilers and was traded out of Edmonton again the following year before they became a Playoff team regularly. Before his 10 points in 22 games this season, he had 317 points in 554 career games as an Oiler. His 8-point night against the Chicago Blackhawks on February 2nd, 2012, shares a franchise record with Wayne Gretzky and his current assistant coach, Paul Coffey, for most points in a single game.
Some Oilers feel bad that he didn’t play on the 16th win, but I don’t believe that makes the record mean any less for him. Even for the games he was out with injury, he was still credited with the most consecutive wins on two different teams when the Oilers reached win #14. I didn’t want to make a huge deal out of that yet because I wanted to wait until Edmonton made it to #16. The winning goal in #13 against Calgary was a historic one for the Canadian side of hockey, and it, of course, pushed the winning streak further. Maybe it’s just purely out of nostalgia, but after skating through so many awful seasons in Edmonton and rehabbing from the double hip surgery he got last year, every Oilers fan is overjoyed for Sam Gagner to be a part of this moment where he started his NHL journey. Here’s hoping he can cap it all off with an even bigger form of winning this summer. After all, the word “Gagner” means “To win.”