by Lisa McRitchie on 07/20/12 at 12:15 PM ET
I may be the only person thinking this, but the Oilers re-signing centreman Sam Gagner may have been one of the bigger “meh” moves of the summer. Yes, Gagner has played 366 NHL games and is only 23 (in August). Yes, Gagner also had an 8 point night last season. But what of his not just cold, but ice cold 20 plus game streak?
There was a point when we thought that the kid line was the wave of the future. No, not this current kid line, but back when the Oilers took Sam Gagner 6th overall adding him to Andrew Cogliano and Robert Nilsson as the Oilers youth movement. As we all know, that didn’t exactly start the next dynasty years, and only Sam Gagner remains from the trio.
Since then, Gagner has developed into an Oiler top 6 forward and has had to face tougher competition than perhaps he was ready for along the way, but that’s how players have had to develop with the Oilers; trial by fire. Through less games played and under similar circumstances, Jordan Eberle has shown himself to have better potential with the Oilers than Gagner.
But it is true that the Oilers lack depth. Most likely the team was looking at trading Gagner to try to find some missing pieces, but clearly they weren’t not being offered what they felt that Gagner was worth. At the same time, because Gagner filed for arbitration, Gagner himself must have felt as though the Oilers weren’t placing enough value on his contributions. Of course this would be the standard chain of order; player places the highest value on himself, team places less value, and other teams even less. And so will Gagner ever get moved for pieces? With the one year deal that the Oilers signed him to today, it looks like a real possibility.
As I mentioned, I may be the only one with this opinion. Gagner is well liked in the locker room, the Oilers do see him as a contributing member of the team, and of course several other writers will speak to his corsi or fennwick, or whatever other stat they would like. But the point of the matter is still that Gagner isn’t the offensive or defensive talent that some of the up and coming players are. And if you watch games closely you can sometimes see Gagner take a poor angle shot rather than make the pass to a teammate who is open. Gagner is most certainly trying to make the effort to improve the team, but has he been surpassed by the more talented and younger players may just be the question.
After all, there are only so many roster spots and while he has NHL experience and a player like Anton Lander has less, how will Lander get experience when Gagner is in the lineup. Especially if the Oilers see Lander in their future going forward, and Gagner as being a player that may or may not be trade bait.
By signing Gagner to this one year, $3.2M deal, there is very little risk. The team gave Gagner a modest $995,000 raise and have only committed to a one year deal; something that may be quite attractive even come trade deadline when teams are looking for rental players. And of course I could be wrong. Of course Gagner could have a stellar season, lead the team in faceoffs or plus minus, or assists, or something and I will gladly say that I was wrong, but in the meantime this move doesn’t make the Oilers any better. But I guess you can also say that it doesn’t make them any worse either. And at least they had the cap room.
Now let’s just see if there is actually a season this fall.
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Lisa McRitchie is a fairly new writer, online at least, but makes up for inexperience with passion for the game of hockey and memories of Mrs. Leskiw’s English AP class; who knew they would pay off one day.
Oil Patch focuses on the Edmonton Oilers, the Edmonton Oil Kings, The Oklahoma City Barons and Team Canada Hockey with game coverage, news updates, speculation and interviews.
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