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Potential trade target: Sam Gagner

Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

The 2013 offseason is a unique one. The salary cap is going down, there aren’t that many premier free agents, and there are going to be a few teams looking to dump salary to get under that $64.3 million cap. While the Edmonton Oilers may not be one of the teams looking to get under the cap, but with a new GM and a new coach, they are going to make changes to their roster. Ales Hemsky and Shawn Horcoff are already on the chopping block , but there are more moves to make with this club.

Specifically, the Oilers are very thin on bottom-six defensive-minded forwards. In fact, based on the player usage chart, the Oilers have exactly ZERO forwards who played shut-down minutes (there were a lot of guys who played tough minutes, but were not successful at all). It just so happens that the Rangers have quite a few guys who fit that mold. Edmonton is actually a very good trading match for the Rangers, since they have opposite needs/surpluses and both have cap space. Enter RFA Sam Gagner.

Gagner has been a bit of a revelation in Edmonton. Drafted sixth overall in 2007, Gagner made the jump to the NHL right away. He has been a consistent 40 point guy in Edmonton, but has matched that with being consistently inconsistent. It wasn’t until this past season when the 23 (!!) year old center made waves, putting together a line of 14-24-38 in the lockout shortened season.

At first glance, you might think this is due to inflated shot percentage. Gagner shot 12.4% this year, two points above his career average of 10.6%. However, Gagner shot 12.1% in 2011-2012, and has enjoyed an increasing shot percentage each of the past four seasons. Gagner also took 113 shots in 48 games this season, compared to just 149 over 79 games last season. If you prorate that shot percentage with the increased number of shots for a full 82 games season, Gagner would put up about 24 goals.

However, not all with Gagner is good. His -4.3 RCorsi (-14.4 CorsiON) shows an extreme inability to drive puck possession, despite playing against weak competition (-.036 Corsi Rel QoC) with strong teammates (.719 Corsi Rel QoT). His player usage chart shows his minutes are between Sheltered and Two-way, which is what he would be expected to play as a Ranger with top-six minutes. In a case like this, it is all about team needs. The Rangers need a top-six forward, and the Oilers need some defensive minded forwards. Gagner isn’t the first Oiler I would want, but he’s the only one who isn’t inked to a long term contract aside from Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson (or Nail Yakupov, whom I don’t believe they will trade).

Gagner is an intriguing trade target because the potential of acquiring a speedy forward who can put up 70 points is very evident. However the downside is that Gagner will cost any inquiring club at least one defensive-minded roster player plus at least one good prospect. It’s a steep price for a player due for a significant pay raise from his $3.2 million salary.

20 Responses to “Potential trade target: Sam Gagner”

  1. Michael says:

    Hes a restricted free agent at the moment. I dont think hes going anywhere, and hes going to want a boatload of money. No thanks. You should post some realistic trade targets… I cant even imagine who the oilers would want back

    • Hatrick Swayze says:

      C’mon dude… he is farther down on the chart for guys Oilers would not trade. Behind forwards Hall (6 mil), RNH (3.775 mil), Eberle (6 mil) and Yakapov (3.775 mil). That considered, he is realistic. What the asking price is, who knows. Maybe MDZ, since they’re thin on D. Maybe a depth guy and a prospect or pick, since they’re thin on good bottom 6 role guys.

      Regarding what he is in line to make, its tough to speculate but guestimate he will fall in between 4 and 5 million over about 4 years (+/- 1).

      He is a realistic trade target who would help our club out and could be had at a decent cap hit. Would you rather have Gagner at 4.5 mil or Richards at 6.66? Gagner at 4.5 mil or Clowe at 3.5? Gagner at 4.5 mil or Clarkson at 5.5?

    • Dave says:

      Don’t quite see the logic here. Gagner is the odd-man out in Edmonton with Hall, RNH, Eberle, and Yakupov.

    • @NYRFan says:

      I don’t know that he’d cost that must or get overpaid. He’s still young and has never scored more than 49 points in the NHL. Now the Oilers have a bunch of smallish offensive Forwards and a real need for a reliable Defenseman. Edmonton has a need for size defensive players. If Sather can trade for his rights and still has to sign him. I can’t see the trade costing that much. Maybe it’s a trade involving one or more of Pyatt, Boyle, or Powe. There may be a way to get something valuable from Edmonton for Del Zotto as well. They like DZ and he’d be their best defensive Dman sadly. He would play top pair mins there.

  2. SalMerc says:

    Only in a trade for Stu Bickel

  3. Leatherneckinlv says:

    Why is everyone interested in other players from various teams who are average players? I would prefer we discover a gem through our own system. 3 years ago I said Brad Richards was not a player I wanted on the Rangers. When he signed I stated it would haunt us. 2 years in and now we will lose him to a buyout most certainly. I prefer a rookie to come in and wow us

    • TxRanger says:

      all of our prospects are busts. well idk about fast and lindberg, but the rest are scrubs. kreider and miller are not prospects in this statement btw…

      • Randy says:

        how can you call our prospects busts? Out of Hrivik, St. Croix, Thomas, Nieves, and Fogarty, only Thomas has played 1 NHL game and I thought he played fine. I agree that we need a rookie to do some damage next year, like Petr Prucha his rookie season, but hopefully the rest of their career turns out better than his did.

      • Hoggo says:

        Most of the Rangers prospects were rookies… it’s a tad early to be calling them busts, no?

    • Hoggo says:

      Gagner is a bonafide top-6 center who’s shown as much the past 2 seasons. The previous seasons he’d plateaued, being played out of position on the wing and without skill players.

      And that plateau? 50pts/82gp for two consecutive seasons, as a *2nd/3rd line player*, and again, *playing out of position*. You can’t say that about any Ranger at the moment.

      You see what he did when he was put in a role that maximized his skill as a playmaking center.

  4. Walt says:

    Gangnr would cost too much, and then wants a pay hike,($4.5mil per) would get more than Callie, NO WAY!!

    If the Oilers want to trade, we can offer up MDZ, Pyatt, Bickell, just to name a few. They are loaded with some very good young talent, they need a mucker, maybe throw in Asham, and Powe as well!!

    Let’s see what majic Slats has up his sleeve, he can pull rabbits out of hats, maybe a young forward out of McT’s ass.

  5. RyanK says:

    Apparently Toronto won’t be re-signing Clarke MacArthur. Potential target for the Rangers?

  6. John Delfino says:

    Decided I need to start commenting more.

    I like Gagner but I’m not sure how well he will fit in with the current makeup of the team. To me, it comes down to the decision about the new head coach above all else. Once that decision is made, then potential targets can be a conversation.

    I say this because on a Vigneault-run team, I think he’d be a valuable asset and, unlike in Edmonton, would play with defensively-sound second liners (Callahan, for example) who could help shore up his Corsi. He’s still young, and that means his bad defensive habits are unlikely to be permanent.

    Put him on a Lindy Ruff team, however, and I think he’s just another small forward who isn’t quite a proper fit.

    To me, several other factors impact Gagner’s viability. His price, for example, is likely to be far too high. This is palatable if Richards is bought out, but if not then I don’t see how spending 4-6 million (that’s what he’ll command) on locking him up is beneficial in the long run.

    Additionally, I have a feeling Christian Thomas is going to be knocking at the door this season’s camp, and while I don’t pretend that his point totals will be remotely near to Gagner, he certainly fills a similar role for significantly less money. Thomas–and all the unproven rookies, to my mind–are likely to feel as though they have a fresh start with the new coach, and we might just see a couple make a case for themselves.

    All that being said, I wouldn’t be opposed to the possibility of an offer sheet for Gagner, as the Rangers are already much depleted in this year’s draft. A trade-and-sign I am less enthusiastic about… though that may just be me enjoying offer sheets more.