RISK FOR BOTH GAGNER AND OILERS

Jason Gregor
July 21 2013 10:05PM

The Edmonton Oilers and Sam Gagner are less than 18 hours away from an arbitration hearing, but are both sides willing to take the risk that comes with accepting a one-year deal?

Make no mistake there are risks for both sides.

OILERS....

  • By accepting a one-year deal there is the potential that Sam Gagner can play out his contract and become an unrestricted free agent next summer. After seven seasons of developing the former 6th overall pick in 2007, the Oilers could loss him for nothing.
     
  • They could trade him during the season, and at least get an asset or two in return, but if he gets injured he's untradeable.
     
  • They have no one in the organization ready to replace Gagner. They would be dealing from a position of weakness.
     
  • The perception that a young player doesn't want to stay in Edmonton could be harmful.
     
  • Gagner has a great season and the Oilers would have to pay him $5.75 million for eight years.
     
  • They sign him long term, and he never becomes more than a 55 point player.

GAGNER...

I sense from many fans that Gagner is in a great position, and he has nothing to lose by accepting a one-year deal. I'm not sure that is the case. I'd agree Gagner has more leverage, but he still has some risk.

  • Injury is the biggest risk for Gagner. He is very competitive, he doesn't play on the perimeter, and an injury will impact his next contract. Look at how many players who are one year from  unrestricted free agency, yet end up re-signing before the final year of a deal. The security of a long-term deal combined with the risk of an injury in the final year of a deal, is too high more many players.
     
  • He has another up and down season, and doesn't establish himself as a consistent point-producer and two-way centre.
     
  • Will Gagner's stock be higher next summer if he only puts up 50 points this season?

    This past season only three UFA forwards received more than $5 million in AAV salary over a four-year term. Mike Ribeiro got $5.5 mill for 4 years, Nathan Horton inked $5.3 million for six years and David Clarkson got $5.25 over 7 seasons. Gagner doesn't bring size or toughness like Horton and Clarkson, but his game is similar to Ribeiro.

    Ribeiro is 33, but he tallied 49 points in 48 games last year and in his last 9 seasons he has played 669 games and scored 572 points. He's averaged 0.85 points per game, while in the last 6 seasons Gagner has played 414 games and scored 258 points, 0.62 points per game.

    Clearly Ribeiro won't be more productive in his mid 30s as his was his previous nine seasons, but if Gagner doesn't have a 60-point season, is it a guarantee he'll get more than $5 million/season?
     
  • Is the grass always greener? Gagner likes Edmonton, his girlfriend is from here and he's becoming more of a leader every year. The organization speaks and thinks highly of him, but is it certain he will have the same success and opportunity elsewhere if he leaves after this year?

STILL A CHANCE....

Last year, Gagner and the Oilers reached an agreement on the morning of his scheduled July 20th arbitration date, so it is still possible they can avoid an arbitrator.

Both sides would rather avoid the hearing and sign a multi-year extension, and if a no-movement clause is a sticking point, why not meet in the middle and give Gagner one in the final year of a three-year pact. He can't have one next year, (NMC can't kick in until a player is eligible to become a UFA), so spliting the final two years would seem reasonable.

A source told me the Oilers have offered a multi-year deal at $4.5 mill/year, so you know there if room to negotiate and get close to $5mill/year.

This is the most intriguing contract negotiation in recent Oilers' history, because no one is certain what type of player Gagner will become.

Was last season's 38 points in 48 games a preview of his future offensive production?

Or was the fact that he didn't produce late in the year, during the most important ten-game stretch of the season, a sign of  what the future holds?

PARTING SHOTS...

  • The Oilers need Gagner, and their lack of future offensive centremen has them in a weak bargaining position, however, the question still remains unanswered if the Oilers can win with Gagner and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins as their future top-two centres.
     
  • The rational part of my brain believes both sides can live with a three-year deal. It allows the Oilers more time to see what Gagner becomes, and Gagner could still test the free agent waters at very young age. It makes the most sense.
     
  • Unfortunately, I've come to realize that rarely do we use the words rational and NHL negotiations in the same sentence.

RECENTLY BY JASON GREGOR 

 

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One of Canada's most versatile sports personalities. Jason hosts The Jason Gregor Show, weekdays from 2 to 6 p.m., on TSN 1260, and he writes a column every Monday in the Edmonton Journal. You can follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/JasonGregor
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#51 RJ
July 22 2013, 02:25AM
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Hey Sam, let's remember that this negotiation is not about business, it's about family/team/community. So take the following terms:

1) let the team set the value of the contract so that it best suits the team;

2) a medium-term deal that suits the team's needs (three years or so)

3) waive the right for a NMC/NTC.

And once you've committed to the team, and we have a favorable contract (AAV & term), then we will give you the best zone starts, ample time on the pp, put you in the best position to succeed from a ppg standpoint.

Then we'll trade you to the highest bidder for that big center or top-2 defenceman we always wanted.

Sorry Sam, it's just business.

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#52 Throttlehead
July 22 2013, 03:01AM
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madjam wrote:

We should just trade Gagner for Weber

Weber has by far the worst contract in the NHL, he will make 20 million a year for the next three years and is almost a 8 million cap hit till he is forty. That is RIDICULOUS, and not worth it.

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#53 Devolution
July 22 2013, 03:30AM
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admiralmark wrote:

I'll say this again.. I dont understand why a player won't take a deal that pays him 90% of what the market holds?

1) The difference between $4.5 Mill and $5 Mill is not going to exactly cause him any hardship. 2) Being paid slightly less means that when you have poor years the fans will cut you some slack. 3) If you want to be with a team because you like the city, you like youre teammates etc which has been reported. Then take the lesser deal in exchange for a NMC(If this is not being offered then bad on MacT). 4) Take a little less allows the team.."Your Team" to better acquire more players around you. Setting an example as such may even spur more of your teammates to do the same and in turn bring in more talent with the saved cap space...What a novel idea hey? Save Cap space, get better players, win more games... Why is this such a bad idea?

If this was not a Capped League then all bets would be off here. But to be a player that supposedly wants to win a Cup and yet to deny that if every player squeezes every last penny they can out of the team at contract time is not going to affect your chances of winning said Cup is short sighted.

Take the lesser $$ Gagner. Ask for a NMC as a bonus for leaving a little money on the table if thats the concern. Instantly endear yourself to the fans and your team-mates. Makes sense to me?

I think that players probably do think this way but I am quite sure that agents don't.

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#54 Maverick
July 22 2013, 05:31AM
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Its the mix on the team. This is what we know:

Hall - Great young left winger, talk of him might being a center but it looks like he will be a winger.

Eberle - Good young right winger

Hopkins - Number one or high number two center

Yakupov - dynamic winger, probably right winger or a rover type player.

Gagner - 2nd line center or 2nd line winger? GM thinks he is a winger and has mentioned it, has played center for 6 years in the NHL. So what is Sam Gagner?? After 6 years you have to know by now what he is, doesn't matter if he is 24 years old, he is mature in NHL years, lots of in game experience. The age thing doesn't fly with me, he is mature, has lots of game experience, seen lots of different scenarios even at a young age. But he has "warts" in his game and 24 or not, 6 years in the league not sure if he will ever be able to shed those "warts". On this team he is the odd man out, I think it a short deal and than he is traded. Something's got to give and he is the one getting moved out first.

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#55 Oiler Al
July 22 2013, 05:51AM
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Should have been signed last year or dealt in the off season .

Gagner has Oilers over the barrel right now, and if they want him for long term they will have to pay dearly.[ The team probably has no back up plan to fill their voids at center, yes I think they are short two guys at that position if they dont sign Gagner]

Oilers gave him the chance to circle jerk the team until his free agency period... smart move on his agents part.

PS.. This is not a $5.5 million player, not even a $5.

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#56 mlcsellil
July 22 2013, 06:21AM
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I'm sure neither side wants to go into a meeting today, but I'm willing to bet that MacT has a back up plan. There is no way he's prepared to be handcuffed to a contract he doesn't want. MacTavish is smart and will do the best thing for the team. I'm waiting for an announcement regarding a bold move that will centre (no pun intended) around Gagner. Just because MacT hasn't said anything, doesn't mean there isn't anything to be said.

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#57 Oilcruzer
July 22 2013, 06:30AM
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A modified NMC and $23m over 5 is the right deal.

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#58 oilerz
July 22 2013, 07:24AM
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So.. Three more years of Snowpants. This sucks. Welcome to the oilers, McDavid!

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#59 EHH Team
July 22 2013, 07:31AM
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MKE wrote:

If he wants to be here then he needs to sign a deal that gives the team the ability to sign everyone.

So if he wants the NTC he can't get as much money.The team needs guys who want to be here for the right cap hit

Agreed.

There might be value to him with the NTC. Perhaps four years at $4.5M with an NTC compares with $5M without one. A $4.5 contract seems fair to the Oilers, and not an overpay.

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#60 EHH Team
July 22 2013, 07:33AM
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mlcsellil wrote:

I'm sure neither side wants to go into a meeting today, but I'm willing to bet that MacT has a back up plan. There is no way he's prepared to be handcuffed to a contract he doesn't want. MacTavish is smart and will do the best thing for the team. I'm waiting for an announcement regarding a bold move that will centre (no pun intended) around Gagner. Just because MacT hasn't said anything, doesn't mean there isn't anything to be said.

I hope so.

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#61 oliveoilers
July 22 2013, 07:36AM
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yay! not even breakfast yet! Not bad figures either.

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#62 EHH Team
July 22 2013, 07:36AM
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oilerz wrote:

You're late bud, already been announced.

Three years of Sammy Snowpants at $4.8m with NTC.

okay then. Probably close enough.

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#63 Jordan Nugent-Hallkins
July 22 2013, 07:45AM
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3 years is pretty reasonable. Woulda liked closer to 4, 4.5 but no use splitting hairs over less than a million I guess.

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#64 Spydyr
July 22 2013, 07:46AM
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Has the NTC been confirmed?

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#65 Reagan
July 22 2013, 07:54AM
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A decent deal. Decent money. Would have liked a fourth year... They can always extend the deal.

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#66 Spydyr
July 22 2013, 07:54AM
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Gagner also has a no-trade, no-move clause that kicks in next season.

From the Journal. So there is still hope for some of us .

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#67 Dennis
July 22 2013, 07:57AM
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So can we consider this a bit of a hometown discount. Shorter term with a bit lower money. I think that if it was a 4 or 5 year deal, the money may have been a bit higher, especially in the last couple years.

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#68 Clyde Frog
July 22 2013, 08:00AM
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SrCain wrote:

Bahahaha omg you were serious!?! Gagner for weber straight up. Hey thx man, it's pouring rain on a Monday morning and I can't stop laughing.

Shhh, it's a genius and BOLD move; the type Madjam is famous for.

It also allows Nashville to buy 4 years of player age and the points are almost a wash... Weber is almost a 50pt guy and Sam is a 50pt guy!

Looking at that alone I'm almost against this trade from an Edmonton standpoint, but I am sure Madjam has vetted this trade with at least 43 hours of testing in NHL13.

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#69 oliveoilers
July 22 2013, 08:15AM
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madjam wrote:

First comment on this article ! Who's the jerk using my handle (name), It's not the first time either I have noticed .

I agree. Pseudo-madjam has much better grammar and syntax.

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#70 Peter
July 22 2013, 08:16AM
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TSN reported that the deal has both NTC and NMC in it. I think this is a fair deal. It's fine with me.

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#71 Lofty
July 22 2013, 08:16AM
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I like the fact that the no trade clause doesn't kick-in until next summer. If it becomes obvious that the team needs more size up front, I would think Gagner could be moved at the deadline for more than he was worth under his old expired contract.

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#72 michael
July 22 2013, 08:20AM
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Good deal for both sides. Cap geek reports we have 24 players signed with 1.3 million in Cap Space left. Love the cap management by MacT. No more defenceman signings.

Next. Trade Hemsky.

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#73 Justin
July 22 2013, 08:25AM
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Oilers still need a 2nd line C.

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#75 Darren
July 22 2013, 08:31AM
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I guess Oilers couldn't get any value back in a trade with Gagner. So they signed him.

How is the 2014 draft looking ? Another lottery pick.

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#76 Jordan Nugent-Hallkins
July 22 2013, 08:40AM
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@Jason Gregor

Gregor, you think they'd trade Brayden Schenn? His mean streak intrigues me more than Couturier.

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#77 rickithebear
July 22 2013, 09:32AM
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I keep reading Gagner is not a 1st line center?

So if the only center top 20 in points: pp production; PK results is not a first line center. then who is?

J. toews had a down year on PP or he would be his usual top 20 in all three. But he is clearly not a 1st line center!

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#78 Butters
July 22 2013, 09:52AM
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@rickithebear, yes, but shouldn't the Oilers be trying to get bigger and crappier players in the top six? You know, players that get a lot of hits, the most non-subjective stat in pro sports.

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#79 Dangilitis
July 22 2013, 11:04AM
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@Taylor Gang

I don't have to creep dickhead because I've met her and know of her plans. I assume oilers management know gagner as both the player and person and could have used this when they negotiate e.g. We know you want to stay here and we want you to stay here let's get this done. Get over yourself buddy...

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