The Philadelphia Flyers -- August 20, 1999
The Philadelphia Flyers announced today that they have signed center Simon Gagne to a three-year contract, according to club President and General Manager Bob Clarke. Terms of the contract were not disclosed in accordance with club policy.
"Simon is a very talented player and probably one of the top prospects in Canadian junior hockey right now," said Clarke in making the announcement. "He has the potential to play in the NHL in the very near future. He has a chance of making our club this season, but we would need to be certain that he would get enough ice time to further his development. Simon will get every opportunity to display his skills during Training Camp and we will get a good idea of where he stands through his play in preseason games."
Gagne, 19, recorded 50 goals and 70 assists for 120 points and 42 penalty minutes in 61 games for the Quebec Remparts of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League last season. He led the Remparts in assists (70) and in points (120). His 50 goals were tied for first on the team and he finished second in plus/minus (+53, tied for third in the QMJHL). Gagne also finished in the top ten of several offensive categories for the QMJHL; goals - tied for fifth, assists - seventh, points - sixth. He was named to the QMJHLs Second All-Star Team following the 1998-99 season. He was also a member of the silver-medal winning Canadian National Team in the 1999 World Junior Championship Tournament. A native of Ste. Foy, Quebec, Gagne recorded eight points (7G,1A) in seven games for Team Canada. His seven goals led the Tournament.
In three seasons in the QMJHL, Gagne has registered 89 goals and 131 assists for 220 points and 117 penalty minutes in 165 games. The 6'0", 185-pound center was drafted from Quebec by the Flyers in the first round (22nd overall) of the 1998 NHLEntry Draft.
The Quebec Remparts (Thanks Ju!) -- August 14, 1999
The Remparts season has begun! Click Here to download it onto your computer. Click below for a map of the region.
The Philadelphia Inquirer (By Tim Panaccio) -- July 09, 1999
He just might be the Flyers' first genuine "find" of the '90's. Not many players drafted with the 22d overall pick make it to the NHL as teenagers.
Simon Gagne could be the exception.
Certainly, the Flyers think so. General manager Bob Clarke has said for months that he believes Gagne has had enough seasoning in juniors and that the 19-year-old center will likely be in a Flyers uniform in the fall.
It may not be that simple, though.
The Flyers and Gagne's agent, Bob Sauve, are far apart on the issue of bonus money on a three-year contract. Sauve said talks have broken down and might not resume for weeks. And Gagne isn't sure that he is even ready for the NHL. Put it this way: He seems less certain than Clarke.
Yesterday in Voorhees, Gagne was among 17 prospects taking part in the club's annual skating clinic, which runs through Wednesday. "He was a pretty good skater when he came last year," said Peggy Ward, one of the skating instructors. "But everyone can improve."
Gagne dazzled the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League last season with 50 goals in 61 games. He led the Quebec Remparts in goals, assists (70) and points (120), but his coach, Guy Chouinard, was emphatic that Gagne needed another year of development before moving to the NHL.
"I don't know if I do," Gagne said when asked if he needed another year of seasoning. "I have another year left. I'll come to camp and stay with the big team as long as I can. I am just 19. If I am not ready, I have another year left in juniors and can go back with the Remparts.
"I wasn't invited to their big camp last year; I only went to the rookie camp. I don't know if I can play with the big guys yet. My object is to stay around as long as I can right now."
The good news is, Sauve isn't going to hold Gagne out of camp for a contract.
"Simon will attend camp even without a deal," the agent said. "We're not really close right now - at least, not close enough to make a deal happen. I guess it has to be expected. It's still early yet."
Sauve said Gagne would play during the exhibition season but wouldn't play after that if a deal didn't get done.
The Flyers are believed to have offered Gagne three years at the NHL rookie maximum of $975,000 per season. Gagne and Sauve said that bonuses, which can easily reach millions, are holding up the deal.
Gagne was the 22d pick, and if the Flyers give him a multimillion-dollar bonus clause, it raises the salary bar for all late first-round picks. If Gagne gets $1 million in bonus money, this year's first-round pick by the Flyers, goalie Maxime Ouellet, is going to want the same deal. After all, he was drafted 22d as well.
Most late picks don't get that kind of money. Then again, Gagne has shown that he probably should have been drafted higher than he was. Clarke said recently that no one could have projected that Gagne would be an impact player or would dominate a league as he has in juniors.
Gagne cringed when asked if he was a dominant player.
"I don't want to say I dominated the league this year," he said. "I had a very good year in juniors and at the World Championships. . . . There are a couple of steps in between to play in the NHL. I don't know how to treat that. September will be my first NHL camp, my first experience with the big guys. I'll know more then."
CJ (Electric Ice), July 8, 1999
Gagne a Flyer in the Fall?
He is only 19 years old but already Simon Gagne has all the makings of a true hockey genius. He is fast, accurate and young. The Flyers are cultivating a younger team and Simon Gagne appears to be at the top of their list. The Flyers say that they are close to signing this gifted Center but nothing is in writing yet. Simon Gagne will skate with the Flyers during their Exhibition games but if his tenure is to exceed that the Flyers will actually sign him to a contract.
The Flyers havealready offered Gagne a 3 year contract at maximum salary allowed for a rookie of his status, $975,00 per season, but Gagne's people are haggling over a bonus agreement. He is holding out for a multi-million dollar bonus clause. Since Gagne is a late pick (22nd overall) contracts amounting to anything more are rare. If the Flyers agree to terms with Simon Gagne it will mean that they may have to match this salary with other late draft picks. After an impressive juniors career this gifted center may play for the NHL Flyers as soon as this fall, according to their General Manager Bob Clarke. During his juniors career Simon played with the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. While with the Quebec Remparts he registered 120 points and 70 assists. Gagne was a Flyers 22nd overall draft pick. The Flyers are working fevourishly to come to a contract agreement with Gagne.
Flyerstown/Phantom Village (By Joy) -- January 1999
It's been a long time since Philadelphia had a bona fide offensive prospect, so for prospect watchers, Simon Gagne has been quite a relief. At the conclusion of his first QMJHL season since he was drafted by the Flyers in the first round of the 1998 Entry Draft, Gagne is looking more and more like a quite a steal.
Gagne is a 19 year old currently playing for the Quebec Remparts of the QMJHL. He's a little small by NHL standards (especially Philly standards) at 6'0 and 177lbs, although he's expected to fill out a little more as time goes on. He shoots from the left and is nicknamed "Kid". He was drafted into the Q by Beauport, 10th overall in the first round in 1996. He started playing for Quebec in the 1997-98 season. Here are his amateur stats:
Simon's father, Philip Gagne, attended the Philadelphia Flyers first ever training camp in Quebec, which is where he met former Flyers Simon Nolet. Simon Nolet, you may know, is a scout for the Flyers organization and it was on his advice that they picked young Gagne last year at the draft. Although Nolet had ample opportunity to see Simon develop into a premier young player as a friend of his father, the decision to pick Gagne also made good hockey sense. Drafted 22nd overall, the Flyers were surprised to see that he was so available when their pick arrived; they had rated him much higher. So the choice was made.
Gagne is a playmaker who skates well with the puck and likes to put the puck in the net as often as he passes. The QMJHL is a high-scoring league, so Gagne's gaudy numbers must be taken with a grain of salt, but his fine play this year has earned him support around the league to be named MVP. He was the only skater from the Q to be chosen for the National Jr. team which played in the 1999 World Jr. Championships, narrowly defeating teammate Eric Chouinard. He plays with a defensive conscience and can be used on both the powerplay and the penalty kill.
Barry Trapp, director of scouting for Canadian Hockey, said: "First of all, he's a great skater. He may be the best skater in the Quebec major junior league. He's a good two-way player and a good penalty killer and has good puck handling skills. He just brings a whole lot of things to the table."
At the World Jrs, he started out slowly offensively, since he was used in mostly a checking role. However, he went on an offensive rampage later, ending up with 7 goals, 1 assist, and 8 points in 7 games. He was the leading goal-scorer in the tournament, the #7 point-scorer (#2 on Team Canada), and second on Team Canada on faceoffs taken and faceoff winning percentage (72W, 57L,56%). Against Kazakhstan (admittedly not a powerhouse team), he tied a WJC record held by some guy named Mario Lemieux with 4 goals and finished the day a ridiculous +7.
Gagne will wow you with individual performances like his feat against Kazakhstan, but he is also remarkably consistent. He had two 20+ game point scoring streaks this season (21 games and 24 games) and is a big reason why the Remparts clinched the regular season title in the Q. The Remparts's rather melodramatic game reports call him their "etoile filante" -- their shooting star. He notched a hat trick in the final game of the regular season to reach the coveted 50 goal plateau.
Before he was drafted last summer, his scouting report read as follows: "An effortless, shifty skater with good acceleration and a quick change of pace ... a smart player who is very clever with the puck ... he is an unselfish player who effectively creates opportunities for his teammates ... he is creative with the puck and possesses natural scoring instincts ... he is always around the puck and is excellent in one-on-one situations ... is used in all game situations ... he is a good checker, although he is not considered a physical player ... he positions himself for transition of play ... a good competitor with strong desire and an excellent attitude towards the game.
In other words, Gagne has more than mere skills; he has the brains and the attitudes that will take him far in the NHL. There are rumors he could be seen in Philadelphia as early as this spring, after the CHL playoffs end. Remember his name. In French, the verb "gagner" means "to win." Simon Gagne is a winner and he'll bring a lot to either the Phantoms or Flyers when he arrives in Philly.
Planet Flyers Report (By James Klug) -- January 14, 1999
When Bob Clarke saw Simon Gagne still available when it came around to the Philadelphia Flyers first pick, he couldn't help but pick him. At 6'0", 170 lbs, Gagne is not a typical Flyer draftee. But given some of the bad picks of the past, that may turn out to be a good thing. Gagne is currently one of the top scorers in the Quebec League and has received the largest media attention of his life because of his recent World Junior success.
In 35 games this year with the Quebec Remparts, Gagne has 26 goals and 32 assists for 58 points. Before leaving for the team Canada training camp he was outscoring teammate Eric Chouinard a one dimensional player who was drafted by Montreal before Gagne (16th overall). Chouinard now has 2 more points than Gagne.
Gagne is no one dimensional small center. There have been many prospects that could light it up at the junior level but not become successful at the NHL. Flyer fans need not look any farther then recent call-up Mark Greig, who when drafted was a scoring sensation at the junior level and now at the age of 29, has only played in 98 NHL games. A lot of Quebec league scoring sensations can fall very hard when they get to the NHL. We know all to well about Alexander Daigle, and does any one remember when Colin Campbell wouldn't trade Christian Dube for Shanahan because he said Dube would retire with better numbers?
But Gagne brings to the table a much more rounded resume. Yes he can score, but as I mentioned in my World Junior reports, his defensive side is terrific. He is also an above average face-off man and has terrific offensive and defensive instincts (not skill, this is the stuff that can't be coached). Canadian coach Tom Renny said after game two in the tournament that Gagne is "the kind of player that coaches like better than the fans." He does all the little things well and that will certainly help him when he tries to make the jump to the next level.
Gagne will never be known as a tough guy, and his English skills are probably surpassed by Dimitri Tertyshny (which doesn't make him a bad player, but it makes for difficult communicating) . But those two elements aside, this guy is the complete package to be a future second line center.
Here are some career highlights aside from those I posted in his world junior reviews:
The Montreal Gazette (By Herb Zurkowsky) -- January 04, 1999
Pierre Dorion, the Canadiens' chief scout, contemplated driving to North Dakota on Saturday night. But, given the treacherous road conditions, he changed his mind.
Instead, he watched Canada wax Kazakhstan 12-2 in a World Junior Championship quarter-final game. Dorion, like everyone else at the Winnipeg Arena, saw Simon Gagne, a player the Canadiens could have drafted last June, score four goals, equaling a Canadian tournament record established in 1983 by Mario Lemieux.
Eric Chouinard, the player the Canadiens selected with their first choice (16th over-all) last June, tried out for Team Canada, only to be a late cut. Chouinard is a talented offensive player, but isn't renowned for his defensive prowess, a trait which concerned officials assembling this team.
As for Gagne, Chouinard's teammate on the Quebec Remparts and a more versatile two-way player, he went 22nd over-all, to Philadelphia, and is among Canada's hottest players, with five goals and an assist, heading into this afternoon's semi-final game against Sweden.
Dorion said he'd put little, if any, stock in a player's performance against a Kazakhstan team that was clearly overmatched. If Gagne scored four against the Kazakhs, Dorion added, Chouinard might have bagged eight. He also noted that Flyers general manager Bob Clarke just happened to be in attendance.
Anyway, the point is this: Dorion sticks by his decision to select Chouinard.
"Simon Gagne is going to be a good player, but we questioned his size," Dorion said of the 6-foot, 180-pounder -Êthree inches shorter and 18 pounds lighter than Chouinard. "If we wouldn't have taken Chouinard, we would have taken Gagne. We felt Chouinard had better offensive qualities."
Chouinard is among the Quebec League's leading scorers this season and has improved his skating, Dorion added. "I've had no second thoughts, especially having seen Chouinard play this year."
Gagne, a Leap Year baby who will turn 19 this February, traveled to Buffalo for last June's draft and heard rumours about possibly going to the Canadiens. He knew there would be pressure in Montreal and he might not immediately play in the NHL, but like any francophone kid from Sainte-Foy, sat in the stands at Marine Midland Arena and hoped GM Rejean Houle would call out his name. And, when Houle announced the choice was from the Quebec Remparts, Gagne's heart picked up its beat.
"I my head, I was sure it was me," he said. "But they called Eric Chouinard's name. It's a big shock when you're sitting in the stands. It would have been more difficult making the big team, but sure I'd like to be drafted by Montreal."
Don't feel sorry for Gagne. He'll arrive in Philadelphia an unknown quantity, will toil in anonymity and will likely thrive because he's a solid player.Þ A good skater, penalty-killer and smart two-way player, Gagne in many ways appears to be the prototypical Flyer.
Team Canada assistant coach Claude Julien isn't the least bit surprised by anything he has seen over the last week from Gagne. As the head-coach of the Hull Olympiques, Julien has watched Gagne for close to three seasons and coached the centre in the summer of 1997 on Canada's under-18 squad.
"There are times when the Quebec League is accused of producing great offensive players, but guys who can't play defence. That's not the case with Simon," Julien said.
In debating the strengths and weaknesses of Gagne and Chouinard, Julien pointed out that Gagne is older by five months and has played one more year of junior. At this level, Julien explained, that experience is a huge difference.
"I honestly think Eric's one year away from making this team," Julien said. "I don't think the Montreal Canadiens made a mistake by taking him. He's a highly-skilled player."
The Toronto Sun (By Terry Koshan) -- January 04, 1999
WINNIPEG -- By tinkering with the lines before Saturday's 12-2 win against Kazakhstan, Canadian junior coach Tom Renney struck gold.
Renney moved winger Brad Leeb on to a line with centre Simon Gagne and winger Brenden Morrow, who had been together since the start of the world junior tournament, and the result was an eye-popping 18 points for the trio against the Kazakhs.
"I think our styles really complemented each other," Leeb, who plays for the Red Deer Rebels of the WHL, said yesterday. "The chemistry was perfect."
Gagne led with four goals and one assist, Morrow had one goal and six assists and Leeb had two goals and four assists. Morrow said the explosion wasn't expected, but it was something he certainly needed.
"I was a little worried after the first four games because I hadn't put any points on the board," said Morrow, a member of the Portland Winter Hawks of the WHL, who was the 26th pick overall by the Dallas Stars in 1997. "So when Simon scored in the first period (with an assist from Morrow), it was a nice relief."
The surprise contributor was Leeb. Now in his fifth season with Red Deer, the 5-foot-11, 179-pounder has 129 points in 203 career games with the Rebels and made the national team mainly as a role player.
Of the three linemates -- Gagne was picked 22nd overall by the Philadelphia Flyers last June -- Leeb is the only free agent.
"My brother (Greg, 21, who played for Spokane in the WHL) signed a pro contract with the Dallas Stars before the season started and I use that as inspiration," said Leeb, whose brother plays for Kalamazoo, the Stars' AHL affiliate. "I was passed over in the draft twice, so maybe this will lead to something."
Gagne is a slick playmaker who scores pretty goals, while Morrow is a power forward who has received thunderous applause throughout the tournament for his bodychecks. Leeb is a grinder who has shown his hands are soft enough when needed.
Renney said the idea of putting Leeb and Morrow with Gagne was to allow Gagne, of the Quebec Remparts of the QMJHL, to put his offensive talents to greater use..
"We thought both wingers would free up a lot more free ice for Simon," Renney said.
Gagne is looking for a touch of the same magic this afternoon, when Canada plays Sweden.
"(Saturday) was unbelievable," Gagne said. "Every play we made we had a chance to score, and I hope it can happen again."
SLAM! Sports (By Stephen Knight) -- December 30, 1998
WINNIPEG - The French verb 'gagner' means 'to win'.
It' s something Team Canada forward Simon Gagne has imprinted on his birth certificate and on his mind at the 1999 world junior hockey championships.
The soft spoken native of Ste Foy, Que. is the only skater on Team Canada selected from the ranks of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
In short, he's something special, and the Philadelphia Flyers of the National Hockey League agreed as they made Gagne their first round draft pick (22nd overall) at the 1998 NHL Entry Draft.
Like many of his teammates, Gagne is riding the red and white wave of emotion that surrounds the team each time it hits the ice for a game at this 10-team, elite tournament.
"It's an unbelievable feeling," said Gagne, who plays for the Quebec Remparts of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. "To play for your country at home in front of all these people."
Gagne averaged more than a point a game last season for the Remparts and ended up with 30 goals and 69 points in 53 games, but his role with Team Canada is a little bit different than that of the sniper he plays in Quebec.
"I see him being an excellent two-way guy," said Team Canada coach Tom Renney after practice Wednesday in preparation for an 8 pm (EST) matchup tilt with the Czech Republic. "He can generate offence and make things happen, but he's also a real defensive conscience. It's important that your centremen understand the game from the other side of the puck."
Gagne has no problem with emphasizing the defensive and checking elements of his game if it will help Canada win gold, something the country has achieved seven times in the 1990s but fell to a disappointing eighth place last year in Finland.
"My role is to be defensive," said Gagne, who represented Canada at the Under-18 tournament two years ago and played in the 1998 Top Prospects Game. "I play against the other team's top line and on important faceoffs, but I'll do anything for the team."
The scouting report on Gagne is that he's a good two-way player and excellent on the penalty kill. He'll need to be as Canada has gotten into penalty trouble in its two games against Slovakia and Finland. Canada has managed a 1-0-1 record in those two games and can vault into the medal round with a win over the Czech Republic.
Gagne has quietly impressed the higher ups at Canadian Hockey.
"First of all, he's a great skater," said Barry Trapp, director of scouting for Canadian Hockey. "He may be the best skater in the Quebec major junior league. He's a good two-way player and a good penalty killer and has good puck handling skills. He just brings a whole lot of things to the table."
Gagne's future looks bright and he'll likely be playing in Philadelphia with guys like Eric Lindros and John LeClair in about two years.
Gagne says this tournament and his draft day last June have been the two most exciting features of his young hockey life.
Now if only Gagne's family can get him to eat a bit more. To compete effectively over a long, grinding NHL season, a player needs to have some bulk.
"He's got a good frame on him," said coach Tom Renney. "He's got to add maybe 15 pounds, get a little bit stronger to play at the men's level. But once he does that, he'll not just play, he'll play a long time."
Representing his country, Gagne already has a taste of gold from the Tri-Nation tournament in 1997 in the Czech Republic which was won by Canada.
He'd like to add to the collection.