After a long and winding journey, Winnipeg Jets’ forward Sam Gagner has reached the 1000-game milestone in Thursday’s 4-2 win over the Vancouver Canucks. The Jets, Gagner’s seventh NHL team, presented the 33-year-old with a silver stick and a custom art piece to commemorate the accomplishment.
A veteran of 17 NHL seasons, Gagner has found NHL success with the Edmonton Oilers, Arizona Coyotes, Philadelphia Flyers, Columbus Blue Jackets, Vancouver Canucks, Detroit Red Wings, and now the Winnipeg Jets.
Sam Gagner has reached the 1000-game milestone
Gagner’s stay with the Jets has been short, but he’s logged 11 points in his 32 games in Winnipeg. That being said, he has already become a fan favorite, largely thanks to his popular goal song, “Mr. Brightside” by The Killers.
Gagner is likely most known for his time with the Oilers, spending nine seasons over two stays in the Alberta capital. In his time as an Oiler, he eclipsed the 40-point mark five times and is best remembered for his eight-point effort in an 8-4 win over the Chicago Blackhawks in February of 2012. Gagner remains the only player in the past three decades to record a game of eight or more points, and he accomplished the feat at only 22 years old.
After departing Edmonton in 2014, Gagner spent the next several years hopping from team to team, with his 2016-17 season with the Blue Jackets being the most productive in his career. In his 81 games with the Jackets that season, Gagner tallied 18 goals and 50 points.
After two years in both Vancouver and a return to Edmonton, Gagner found a home with the Red Wings. He was a well-liked role player that brought a lot to a very young, rebuilding Wings group. His most successful season with the Red Wings came last season, where he registered 31 points in 81 games played.
Gagner reached free agency in the 2022 offseason, and in weighing his options, he decided to sign a one-year contract with the Winnipeg Jets. He has been a bit of a swiss army knife for the Jets this season, playing on all four lines at least once this season.
His offensive talent is useful when the Jets need him to step into the top-six due to their injury woes, but he’s also smart enough in his own end to do well in a bottom-six role. He’s willing to do anything to help the team, which is something that has been a common thread for him throughout his career.
The team also recognizes how resilient he is, with head coach Rick Bowness praising him for sticking with it, regardless of the adversity.
“How many guys have played 1000 games? Three hundred and something” Bowness stated. “How many of those have gone to the minors and come back? Not very many of them.”
This is, of course, a reference to Gagner’s 2018-19 season where he was loaned to the American Hockey League’s Toronto Marlies for 43 games by the Canucks. Proving he still had it, he tallied 37 points in those 43 games and earned a call-up later that season. He spent four more games in the AHL in 2019-20 for the Bakersfield Condors (EDM, but has not spent time in the minors since.
As coach Bowness said, it’s impressive to hit 1000 games, but it’s even more impressive to do it when you’re faced with adversity. He could have easily decided that it might be time to hang it up, but no. Gagner persevered and has reached this impressive milestone. Congratulations Sam, this is a well-earned accomplishment.