Sam Gagner heads to salary arbitration

Jonathan Willis
July 05 2012 05:18PM

On the same day that the Edmonton Oilers announced new contracts for restricted free agents Jeff Petry and Devan Dubnyk, another elected to file for salary arbitration. Sam Gagner is one of 15 players to file for arbitration this summer.

Scott Reynolds of Copper and Blue looked at a list of likely comparables for Gagner late last month and suggested that based on the contracts those players received the Oilers really don’t have much to worry about:

The median contract is in fact Gagner's last contract, which is a bit amusing, and serves to highlight the ways in which Gagner's performance by the traditional offensive measures has stagnated. It's also fun that he and Jakub Voracek continue to track well with one another as they have ever since they were drafted. But the best thing here for the Oilers is the absence of any truly scary numbers. Granted, Gagner has way more games played than most of these players, but even if he ends up at the high end of this chart (based on established performance), he wouldn't end up grossly overpaid and would likely remain a desirable commodity via trade.

The only players on Reynold’s list to receive a contract north of $3.0 million per season were Stephen Weiss ($3.1 million/year on a six-year contract) and Dave Bolland ($3.375 million/year on a five-year deal). Both of those contracts took those players into unrestricted free agency; a one or two-year deal for Gagner wouldn’t do that.

I’ve argued previously that Gagner’s next contract would give us a good idea of whether or not the Oilers regarded him as a key part of their future. A short-term deal – especially a deal reached through the combative arbitration process – would be an indicator that the Oilers do not envision him as a long-term part of the plan down the middle.

If the Oilers do see Gagner as part of this rebuild, the best idea is probably to sign him to a longer-term deal before arbitration begins. On a four or five-year deal similar to that signed by Weiss or Bolland, Gagner would be an affordable secondary scoring option over the long haul.

This week by Jonathan Willis

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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, the Edmonton Journal and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
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#1 Jordan Nugent-Hallkins
July 05 2012, 05:31PM
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I still feel Tambo will screw this up somehow.

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#2 Chris.
July 05 2012, 05:37PM
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I'd love to sit in on that hearing. Sam's value has been hotly debated for years...

Maybe Gags should have Arch sit on his side of the table!

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#3 John Chambers
July 05 2012, 05:40PM
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Jonathan, you've been a workhorse this summer. I'm of half a mind to think that "Jonathan Willis" is really a collection of writers.

Good analysis about Gagner's contract.

For the record I'm all for moving Hall to C.

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#4 RexLibris
July 05 2012, 05:51PM
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If I recall correctly, wasn't Cogliano the last Oiler to go to arbitration. And he was then traded to Anaheim. Ergo, Sam Gagner will be traded to Anaheim for Bobby Ryan. That sounds perfectly reasonable, doesn't it?

I'm glad Petry and Dubnyk are signed, though I would have liked to see a longer contract for Petry.

As for Gagner, I am not convinced he'll make it to arbitration, I think the two will come to an agreement.

I see Backlund (another '07 draftee) got signed to a one year

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#5 RexLibris
July 05 2012, 05:52PM
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I'd second that Mr. Chambers. All of it.

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#6 HallFever
July 05 2012, 06:01PM
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Another Dman is coming our way via trade (I hope). Hjalmarsson? Gagner would be the piece to trade.

I'm all for moving Hall to C as well.

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#7 A-Mc
July 05 2012, 06:02PM
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So this is sam saying he thinks hes worth more than anything the oil want to give him? (yet no one else will give up the picks required to snatch his rfa status away from the oil)

Seems a little lame to me but i dont know all the details.

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#8 Next up, is Connor McJesus.
July 05 2012, 06:06PM
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Hopefully the Right Honourable Mr. Steven Ott is presiding over these Gagne proceedings..

Moving Hall to center would make Ryan Smyth this clubs no.1 left winger *shudders*.....leave the euros to play the right side so they don't sulk. Move Eberle to the middle, unless you feel he's a one trick pony, or just had a career yr so early.

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#9 Max Powers - Team HME Evans
July 05 2012, 06:12PM
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My guess is a 3 year 9M deal.

Honestly thought Petry would get more and Dubnyk get a little less. He's slightly below Rask IMO and well below Schneider.

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#10 bazmagoo
July 05 2012, 06:22PM
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In shock Dubnyk got that much, was thinking $2M per for two years. He hasn't established himself as an NHL starter yet for crying out loud, bad move by management.

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#11 Next up, is Connor McJesus.
July 05 2012, 06:30PM
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Please wait....sarcasm loading.

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#12 Next up, is Connor McJesus.
July 05 2012, 06:35PM
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Even the most optimistic Arbitrator wouldn't have awarded Devan that much. Why offer him that if you're not being held at gunpoint?

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#13 voom04
July 05 2012, 06:48PM
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I cant believe the name Bryce Salvador has not come up, especially with parise gone, you could throw in konipararsky(big winger), for gags and 2ndpick/potter/etc.,or just sign him and make NJ match?

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#14 Time Travelling Sean
July 05 2012, 06:55PM
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@voom04

Gags and a 2nd rounder for Salvador and an imaginary player? My gawd I thought Tambi was bad.

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#15 JDP
July 05 2012, 07:01PM
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That duby signing was horrible. I don't know what they were thinking.

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#16 Cody anderson
July 05 2012, 07:06PM
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I hate it when a player goes to arbitration. Even if they just split the difference with a number both sides can live with it usually ends up ruining the relationship. In order to ensure he is not awarded too much they have to point out all his flaws and explain why he is not worth much right in front of him. It usually ends up in hard feelings.

Unless they super lowballed him and offered the same kind of money as Petry then he should have negotiated the best deal he could and then sign. Typically a player that goes to arbitration will demand as much as they can their entire career and will go to the highes bidder when free agecy comes rather then resign with their club.

I agree with others that were shocked by the numbers. Petry is at worst on our second pairing and led Dmen in points. I figured they would offer him 5 yrs at 3 million per year and get him locked up at a reasonable rate for the future. Dubnyk might turn out to be a stud, but cased on the numbers last year they paid him way more then they needed to. If he only wanted to sign 2 years I would have offered 1.5-2 million and given the option to increase it a little for each extra year. I would have done the 3 million for him if he would sign for 5 years as well. At very worst he has proven to be a very reliable backup.

I do think that with a good D in front of him his stock will soar and we will be paying him 5+million on his next contract

At ve

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#17 JDP
July 05 2012, 07:08PM
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He's an ahl goalie. Not even good enough to be a backup in the NHL.

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#18 Stocc
July 05 2012, 07:10PM
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I'm pretty sure I could watch that video a million times and still get pumped. It's a good thing I'm not in charge or I'd give all the money to Gagner.

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#19 michael
July 05 2012, 07:16PM
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3.95x5 years. You buy FA years and make his contract reasonable in terms of value and it does not hamstring us financialy. If we stumble upon a better option at center he moves down a notch to 3rd line and it still not a Horcoff like contract.

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#20 Wanyes bastard child
July 05 2012, 07:22PM
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Stocc wrote:

I'm pretty sure I could watch that video a million times and still get pumped. It's a good thing I'm not in charge or I'd give all the money to Gagner.

I still watch it about once a week... that and Crosby's golden goal too...

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#21 Mutt Heatly
July 05 2012, 07:26PM
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The Oilers probably paid Petry that specific amount of money because they could. As he gets closer to UFA status, and if he continues to improve, (I'm optimisitc,) then he'll do better. A LOT better.

Curious about DD. On a two year deal they don't appear to be buying any UFA time, but maybe I'm wrong. If I'm not, it's a massive over-pay.

Gagne is a talented guy and he's only going to get better. (After all, he's only 22 or so.) The real question then becomes, "how much better?" If they don't trade him, and in the absence of a better alternative for 2nd line center they probably won't, I'd love to see if there is chemistry between he and the Yak because I think the Yak has a bit of Kane in him.

Guess it'll all turn out in the wash. . .

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#22 NewfoundlandOil
July 05 2012, 07:44PM
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I get that Gagner wants more, we all do; but arbitration is so difficult for the fan base to swallow. Given what Petry an Dubnyk were signed for (seriously wtf would you guys want to sign a starter for? Instead of critisizing the Dubnyk signing why not exalt the Petry rate?) what was the offer for Gagner? Was it realistic?

Gagner has been mentioned in trade rumour orgies like crazy for a while, it's going to go batsh!t crazy now. What purpose does it serve for the player? Does his agent smell a good demand for centres of his ability? I think so.

It seems management will have to make a decision either way on Gagner.....too bad. I think arbitration states his stay was tenuous at best anyway.

Thoughts?

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#23 @Oilanderp
July 05 2012, 08:00PM
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My god I hope they get him signed. Sweet baby Gagner. The preciousss.

Some nice snippets of Hjalmarsson getting pyloned in that clip.

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#24 vetinari
July 05 2012, 08:10PM
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Given that Dubnyk ended up at $3.5M/year and Petry ended up at $1.75M/year, I have no idea where Gagner will end up.

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#25 godot10
July 05 2012, 08:17PM
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Filing for arbitration is just a formality at this point. It ensures that he has a contract by training camp.

The options for Gagner's contract are multiple and complicated, which is why it will take some discussion and some time.

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#26 Shane
July 05 2012, 08:19PM
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John Chambers wrote:

Jonathan, you've been a workhorse this summer. I'm of half a mind to think that "Jonathan Willis" is really a collection of writers.

Good analysis about Gagner's contract.

For the record I'm all for moving Hall to C.

Jonathan! Does Wanye have you locked up in his basement forcing you to pump out these articles?!?! Do you need help?!?

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#27 madjam
July 05 2012, 08:43PM
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Gagner going to arbitration shows he is worried about his future here . If they settle before then Oilers are committed to him , otherwise i believe they are looking to move him .

Dubnyk is our NBR.1 goalie as last season showed us , behind a very porous defence . His contract reflexs that committment . A number one goalie at that $3.5 M is still a bargain , not an overpayment . He should even be better this year with a better defence and offence operating around him .

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#28 madjam
July 05 2012, 08:48PM
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Question : Some older vets might be of interest short term at low value i believe . Ie: Arnott , Langenbrunner and a couple others - worth persuing ?

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#29 Veterans
July 05 2012, 08:58PM
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Question : Some older vets might be of interest short term at low value i believe . Ie: Arnott , Langenbrunner and a couple others - worth persuing ?

Absolutely . . . but which of Arnott, Langenbruner, or John Madden would best fit with Smitty and the young gunners?

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#30 toprightcorner
July 05 2012, 09:26PM
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So does going to arbitration mean Gagner will not be involved in any possible trades until at least the end of August?

That will greatly reduce the rumour mill!

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#31 DSF
July 05 2012, 09:33PM
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When Gagner's arbitration decision is announced you cut him loose and sigh Kyle Wellwood for $800K.

No harm, no foul.

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#32 nuge2nail
July 05 2012, 09:45PM
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Oiler Domination to Follow

3 years 9 Million is the perfect deal for both parties, get it done :)

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#33 Wax Man Riley
July 05 2012, 11:18PM
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DSF wrote:

When Gagner's arbitration decision is announced you cut him loose and sigh Kyle Wellwood for $800K.

No harm, no foul.

Haha.. I was just going to comment about you using Wellwood as a comparison.

He did have as many points as Gagner did last year. Lock that kid up long term. lol

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