Trading Sam Gagner to the Los Angeles Kings Would Likely be a Mistake

Jonathan Willis
February 05 2014 09:33PM

Everybody and their dog seems to want the Edmonton Oilers to move Sam Gagner for whatever the team can get and the sooner the better. That’s why comments by Hockey Night in Canada’s Elliotte Friedman suggesting the Los Angeles Kings had serious interest in Gagner have attracted significant attention in Edmonton.

Clifford & Nolan

Bob Stauffer of Oilers Now was asked on Wednesday’s show about the Gagner rumours. He said the return was “going to be a guy like a [Kyle] Clifford or a [Jordan] Nolan or a [Dwight] King,” and that “there’s going to be a financial component involved” in this scenario, hinting that the Oilers would be retaining salary in the deal.

Let’s look at those players. Among Kings forwards with more than 20 games played, Clifford ranks 12th in even-strength ice-time per game and Nolan ranks 13th. Neither of them kills penalties. Basically, they’re both big, young fourth-liners who contribute almost nothing beyond a physical game. The Oilers have some experience grabbing fourth-liner off high-end teams – guys like Colin Fraser and Ben Eager. Those guys looked great in Chicago, and looked terrible in Edmonton.

Would Clifford or Nolan be an upgrade on, say, Jesse Joensuu? Absolutely. Are they going to play top-nine minutes? Probably not. Nolan couldn’t score in the AHL, and Clifford had 28 points in the OHL in his draft year. They’re fourth-line guys.

If Luke Gazdic and Jesse Joensuu and Teemu Hartikainen and Lennart Petrell and Ben Eager and all the rest of the big forwards the Oilers have run through their fourth line show anything, it’s that adding a big, physical guy to the bottom of the roster doesn’t do anything to fix the problems in the top-six. So trading a guy like Gagner, who has problems but is a proven NHL scorer, for a younger version of Ben Eager or a better version of Luke Gazdic is kind of a stupid thing to do.

Dwight King

Dwight King is a better player, but he’s also a guy who had 17 points in 28 AHL games last year and had 33 in 79 AHL games two seasons ago. He has 23 points this season, playing primarily with Anze Kopitar and Jeff Carter. He’s a big (6’4”, 230 pounds), young (he turns 25 this summer) left wing that can play top-nine minutes and kill penalties and add a physical presence. If the Oilers are moving Gagner for a forward, that’s the guy who the Kings might be willing to move and who is in the same value-range.

Now, the problems. If Gagner goes, that means Edmonton is relying on a Mark Arcobello or Anton Lander to play centre on the second line. As a guy who likes both players, I’d enjoy watching that but as an NHL G.M. I wouldn’t be at all comfortable with it. Maybe Gagner needs to be replaced anyway, but moving him for King means that Edmonton now has a second-line centre slot to fill. Is it easier to add a guy like King in free agency, or a guy like Gagner? If the Oilers need a big guy who can be plugged in on the second line, they can sign a Nikolai Kulemin or David Moss in the summer. There simply aren't second-line centres available, unless they can somehow talk Paul Stastny into moving to Edmonton. 

The second problem is salary. Sam Gagner has this season and two more with a $4.8 million cap hit. King has this season and one more at $750,000. So Edmonton would need to take another contract back, and probably need to eat half of Gagner’s contract. Yes, the salary cap is going up but this is also an Oilers team that needs to add significantly on defence and on the third line; spending $2.4 million for the next two seasons so that L.A. can have a cheap Gagner seems misguided.

I like King a lot, and he’s a nice fit for Edmonton. He’s just not a nice enough fit to justify dumping Gagner and retain half his salary in the process. Toss Jake Muzzin or Tyler Toffoli in, and there might be something to think about – but it’s not likely that the Kings are going to do that. 

Recently by Jonathan Willis

74b7cedc5d8bfbe88cf071309e98d2c3
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.
Avatar
#201 Serious Gord
February 06 2014, 02:16PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
2
cheers
Spydyr wrote:

Funny Hall is a career -12.That is a long ways form Gagners -58

This is the first you have mentioned a negative player being considered good - "Getting a player back that scores less, but is constantly a plus player helps the team more."

Yes, relative plus minus ON THE SAME team is relevant and worthy of comparison. Between teams the usefulness as a comparative stat is far less and in many cases misleading rather than informative.

Avatar
#202 Stamsky Hemkos
February 06 2014, 02:23PM
Trash it!
1
trashes
Cheers
2
cheers

I'm sick of hearing these lopsided rumors. Frodo is having a poor year but is normally a top 6 forward. Trading him for a 4th line winger is the kind of move that will set this franchise back even further. MacT won't do anything that foolish. Lombardi has already fleeced us too many times.

Avatar
#203 Cubsfan
February 06 2014, 03:09PM
Trash it!
1
trashes
Cheers
2
cheers

Everyone says the Oilers are dealing from a position of weaknes...sure they are but, their fate is sealed:

1. LA Knings can not score....they are desperate.....i would argue they are also in a weak position

2 Sure Gagne has a big contract.....but with the Cap moving up quite a bit next year, his contract is proportionally less of a noose around the organisations neck

3 I still dont think hes quite right since the broken jaw

4. If he goes to LA and plays with those big bodies and has some room, and get feeds from their D-men, we'll all be wondering how MacT go robbed and we'll want him fired for doing tis dumb deal.....Cogliano is benifiting

I just think the oilers should do the trade after the year during free agency.....or they should realize, that other team are in a WORSE postion of weakness than they are

Avatar
#204 Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)
February 06 2014, 03:20PM
Trash it!
1
trashes
Cheers
2
cheers

Heard on radio show that LA has requested Gagner's health records. Not sure of the source.

Avatar
#205 Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)
February 06 2014, 03:26PM
Trash it!
2
trashes
Cheers
2
cheers

Also, no matter who we trade with, unless we are taking back an overpriced contract, we will be eating 1 to 1.5 million of the Gagner contract.

Avatar
#206 Serious Gord
February 06 2014, 03:50PM
Trash it!
3
trashes
Cheers
2
cheers
Zarny wrote:

Hanzal has never topped 36 pts so yes.

Bozak has hit 40 pts once and trailed Gagner by 10 pts last year so yes once again.

Monahan is a rookie who is on pace for 35 pts. In his rookie year Gagner had 49 pts.

Legwand is 33, past his prime, and has only ever topped 50 pts twice. Most years he's in the 30's or 40's. Legwand's career pt/gm is less than Gagner's too and his career FO% is only 0.46 compared to Gagner's 0.448. By the time he's 33 Gagner will have been a much better NHLer.

Handzus will be 37 this year and has only topped 50 pts twice. The last was in 2003-04...a decade ago. Since then he's averaged between 20-42 pts and has a career pt/gm well below Gagner.

For a bunch of whiners complaining Gagner doesn't produce enough you sure come up with a pile of sh*tducks who you think are better.

Nothing you say takes into account contract and other tangible and intangible aspects of their games. And those things HAVE to be accounted for.

Avatar
#207 David S
February 06 2014, 08:05PM
Trash it!
2
trashes
Cheers
2
cheers
Al Low wrote:

Ask yourself, would any contender have Gagner in a 2LC spot? Get off his nuts, David S. He's not good enough, even on the Oilers.

From all reports, sounds like cup contender LA Kings are pretty damn interested. Funny how those things go huh?

Avatar
#208 David S
February 06 2014, 08:26PM
Trash it!
6
trashes
Cheers
2
cheers
Doctor Smashy wrote:

And for what it's worth, Zarny is owning ever Gagner-hating clown on this board today.

Both of you guys are killing it. Zarny has made every Gagner hater on here look like a junior high school fanboy.

Well done boys but I'm not sure your brand of common sense is appreciated on this thread.

Too bad. We could use more of you.

Avatar
#209 andrewmk20
February 06 2014, 02:17AM
Trash it!
26
trashes
Cheers
1
cheers

Any chance that Nashville would consider Gagner for Cullen. Cullen has 1 year left at 3.5M and despite being 37 can still skate well and plays an actual two way game. I know his offence has fallen off the past two seasons but he'd be with better offensive linemates in Edmonton than in Minnesota or Nashville.

Avatar
#210 oprah sucks
February 06 2014, 09:10AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
1
cheers

everyone talks about kings limited cap space and the possibility of oilers getting muzzin. well take one look at his contract and it doesnt take a genius to figure out that muzzin isnt goin anywhere. one very possible candidate for the oilers would be and is mat green because of his contract status and he is due for a raise in salary which la does not want to deal with and possibly lose green for nothing.

Avatar
#211 Zamboni Driver
February 06 2014, 11:37AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
1
cheers

@Serious Gord

...shooting against a big tall goalie with no lateral movement, but is a really nice guy that all the players and media in Albany really love.

Avatar
#212 Lochenzo
February 06 2014, 01:08PM
Trash it!
5
trashes
Cheers
1
cheers

This Gagner trade rumour story is on TSN again. I'm getting real worried that the Oilers are going to get pummeled in this trade.

Avatar
#213 GriffCity
February 06 2014, 01:27PM
Trash it!
2
trashes
Cheers
1
cheers

Gagner to CBJ for Nikita Nikitin is the song im singing. Columbus already has a very decent 1 & 2 d-men in Johnson and Murray (who thus far has way outplayed Yak) so Nikitin would be a movable piece of the deal was right. CBJ is in the playoff hunt and looking to add scoring depth since they are almost certainly going to try and dump Gaborik at or before the deadline. This is the move the Oilers should look at doing.

Avatar
#214 Serious Gord
February 06 2014, 01:56PM
Trash it!
4
trashes
Cheers
1
cheers
Truth wrote:

Gagner was 37th in points in all of the NHL last year. 18th among centers. On pace for 65 pts.

What he is not is the player he was for a month while recovering from a broken jaw that he received in the pre-season.

If he averaged out as a 50-60 point center in the NHL he is a second line center on most teams in the league.

But might as well give him up for Zach Stortini 2.0.

Please tell us which teams in the league would have Gagner as a 2C? I would guess that pretty much every team that is in the top 16 wouldn't which means that fewer than half would - IOW not "most".

And of course one needs to factor in his price tag...

Avatar
#215 Serious Gord
February 06 2014, 02:18PM
Trash it!
3
trashes
Cheers
1
cheers
Cowbell_Feva wrote:

This could be a classic case of an Oiler going elsewhere and becoming grabbing a Cup ring. Gagner could be one of the best producing 2nd line centers in the league if the Kings play him with some of their big dogs. It's something he doesn't have here in Edmonton.

Saying that, his numbers are what they are, and his faceoffs and defensive ineptitudes are very real, so to my mind, no matter what, the Oilers may lose the trade due to the fact that he is almost guaranteed to do better in LA.

However, gaining a big body (I would hope for Toffoli or King) that could play top 6 in Edmonton would very quickly change the whole dynamic of the Oilers forwards. No more would opposition defenseman have the luxury of easily pushing the small kids around and not have a net presence, outside the 4th line. Intangibles that win hockey games.

Definetly not a solution to the defensive issues, but a good start in my opinion. P.S. Kyle Clifford was a guy I wish the Oilers would have pursued a lot harder as a Free Agent this past summer. He signed for just over $1 mill/per. To trade Gagner for him just doesn't make sense, when you could have had him for as little as he signed for in L.A.

Hope MacT knows what he's doing.

Well put.

Unfortunately I don't think MacT has a clue. Certainly the evidence thus far is strongly in my favour.

Avatar
#216 Serious Gord
February 06 2014, 02:40PM
Trash it!
5
trashes
Cheers
1
cheers
Zarny wrote:

I wasn't trying to compare or suggest Gagner and Getzlaf were similar players or had similar value.

Simply pointing out that players have up years and down years. 2 years ago Getzlaf only had 57 pt in 82 games. This year he's sitting at 64 pt in 55 games.

Was Getzlaf worthless or did he have "negative value" 2 years ago? No.

And sorry but I don't agree with your definition of "negative value". I think that concept is actually quite silly.

Getzlaf struggled for a short period perhaps, Gagner has consistently underperformed - or rather has performed below the expectations/dreams of many on oilers management and omany more oilers fans.

Gagner wasn't getting 4.8 mill two years ago.

negative value is very simple and common:

You own a car that is appraised at $10000 and you outstanding loan is $15000. The car has a negative value of $5000.

Gagner is worth maybe 3mill/yr over 3 years (let's say) - in other words he could be replaced by a player of equal benefit for $3mill. and he's signed for 4.8 for 3 years. Thus he has a negative total value of 5.4 mill or 1,8 mill/year.

Avatar
#217 Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)
February 06 2014, 02:48PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
1
cheers

King or Clifford is risky business in that average players can look good on a good well coached team. And then look like crap on a team like the Oilers.

No way the deal is Clifford for Gagner straight up. It would be Clifford and a pick or prospect. So the real question in the potential LA deal is are you good with trading proven NHL talent for a lesser talent and future prospects? Or do you pray that MacT can get back established talent for established talent somewhere else?

Avatar
#218 Slapschtick
February 06 2014, 03:33PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
1
cheers

Just because TSN says gagner doesn't make it so... It's Hemmer that's going with Clifford coming back, but that's just my opinion

Avatar
#219 Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)
February 06 2014, 08:08PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
1
cheers
big slick wrote:

When does Gagner's NTC kick in, July 1st?

Hey Big Slick....anything I've read says July 1st 2014.

Calendar

Feb. 9 - 25: Olympic Break

Feb. 26: NHL season resumes

Mar. 5: Trade Deadline, 3pm et

Apr. 13: Last day of regular season

Apr. 15: NHL Draft Lottery

Apr. 16: Stanley Cup Playoffs begin

June 27 - 28: 2014 NHL Draft in Philadelphia

July 1: Free agent signing period begins

Avatar
#220 pkam
February 07 2014, 08:49AM
Trash it!
4
trashes
Cheers
1
cheers
Spydyr wrote:

You just compared Gagner to Tavares and Ovechkin.

Let that sink in a bit.

If you cannot tell which one does not belong with the other two, well you made everything you have ever said here irrelevant.

In case you have problem getting the message from Zarny's post, he means +/- has very little to do to a player's value. And he is responding to you trashing Gagner's poor +/-.

Kovalchuk probably has the worst career +/-. How many NHL teams would love to sign him. Did Team Russian ever left him out because of his poor +/- status?

Avatar
#221 pkam
February 07 2014, 11:24AM
Trash it!
1
trashes
Cheers
1
cheers
Spydyr wrote:

It is asinine to compare plus minus from players on different teams.

Hall career -12 Gagner career-58

46 point difference

If you cannot tell Gagner is not good defensively nothing anyone can say will change that.

Where did I say Gagner is good defensively?

If you think it is asinine to compare +/- from players on different teams, lets compare +/- from players on same team:

Yakupov -33 in less than 2 season, Sam -68 in 7+ season. So who is worse? So Yakupov has even less value than Gagner?

Leafs: Kessel -37, Bozak -38, Lupul - 54, Kulemin -3, so Kessel, Bozak, and Lupul are not good defensively, do you think Kessel, Bozak, and Lupul worth nothing?

Islanders: Taveres -43, Nielsen -5, Nielsen is obviously better defensively than Taveres so perhaps the Islanders should let Taveres go and keep Nielsen?

Avatar
#222 S cottV
February 07 2014, 11:51AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
1
cheers

I think with the right complimentary players around him, Gagner can play at a high level in the league.

The one place he really stuggles is as the low support forward in d zone coverage. This is partly due to physical size but also lacks in awareness for what is going on around him, defensively in his own zone. You would think this is something he could learn, but - it's been quite a few years and he often looks like a raw rookie in this area.

So - play him with a couple of bigger wingers, one of which being a guy who can play in the middle - as well, taking faceoffs in the d zone and operating as the low support defensive forward. Gretzky often had wingers who covered off the d zone for him.

In general - if Gagner plays with 4 other guys who are particularly strong at forward zone play, he should do pretty well. Sutter would be a good coach for him, providing a sound structure and having Gagner provide some opportunistic scoring.

Sutter could also take a round out of him, if he doesn't dummy up with better two way play, as part of the process.

Avatar
#223 Rod from Viking
February 05 2014, 10:25PM
Trash it!
3
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers
Jonathan Willis wrote:

In fairness, this internet pundit made it pretty clear that he wouldn't be willing to replace Gagner with Arcobello/Lander.

I was all for trading Gagner because I never liked his defensive game for the past three years, Kyle Clifford maybe could be a top 9 player possibly and could be that man in front of the net on the powerplay, he is not enough and eating a bunch of salary as well makes no sense. I like Dave Bolland for a veteran 2nd line center, what do you think?

Avatar
#224 Newj
February 06 2014, 08:53AM
Trash it!
1
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers
Spydyr wrote:

You mentioned Gagner back pressure and finishing checks in the same sentence.

Yup & I'm sure there's video out there to prove it.

It sure as heck wont come from the 3-0 win over SJ. He was atrocious in that game (IMO) Probably got 3rd star from SNET though.

Avatar
#225 A-Mc
February 06 2014, 11:08AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers
Jordan Nugent-Hallkins wrote:

I think PIMs don't tell the whole story with the Oilers. They take a lot of stick infractions because they're not moving their feet. Plus I wouldn't be surprised if fully half of Hall's penalties were unsportsmanlikes for beaking at the ref.

You're right, it's not even close to telling the whole story. But even as a remote indicator of any kind of grit, King doesnt have any.

Look at Perron as an example. Perron has the perfect grit and compete that we need, we just need more of him in bigger frames. He's sitting in 2nd for PIMs on the Oil.. Under a fighter.

Avatar
#226 tabs
February 06 2014, 11:41AM
Trash it!
6
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers
Serious Gord wrote:

Gagner has negative value. If the oil could just make him and his contract disappear they would be better off. So if they get "spare parts" back for very little money then it is a win for the oil.

See post #128 SG, we are both saying the same thing and until fellow posters realize the horrendously poor contract MacT signed they will forever believe that any deal struck for Gagner is poor.

Taking back part of contract in negotiation only helps sell the deal to the public.....

Avatar
#227 Serious Gord
February 06 2014, 03:13PM
Trash it!
3
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers
Rod from Viking wrote:

Gord, I usually agree but not this time, this team needs some gritty players that will protect the skill guys and hold others accountable until the Mitch Moroz/Kyle Chase/Darnell Nurse get here, is it not ideal and neither is the Ference contract but it is essential to building a "team".

He will be a distant memory but still drawing a paycheck oct '15.

Avatar
#228 Rod from Viking
February 06 2014, 03:31PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers
Serious Gord wrote:

He will be a distant memory but still drawing a paycheck oct '15.

That may be long enough but I'm thinking October 16 and then joining the coaching staff(lol)

Avatar
#229 Johnny
February 07 2014, 10:24AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

I doubt that deals between teams don't happen in isolation. If they do, fire the entire front office.

If the Oilers are indeed serious about trading Gagner to LA, then it has to work for both sides. This season is a write-off, so putting Arco at 2C for the rest of the season is meaningless -- except it gives him a serious NHL audition at top-6.

If they trade Gagner, they have a plan for a 2C replacement and it's not likely a "hope and pray that Arco steps up" kind of plan. So let's assume that they have a plan to fill 2C with an actual 2C, either through trade or FA.

With that assumption, the Oilers need: 1) Defense 2) Experience 3) Size and "truculence"

If trading Gagner to LA means that they take back King or Clifford (preferably King) and one of Regehr or Mitchell, that helps the oilers accomplish 3 of 3 on their goal list.

King and Clifford are both bigger bodies who play physical brand of hockey.

Regehr and Mitchell are both experienced and reliable D-men who can play a shutdown game (and PK time) and provide a veteran presence in a very young D-corps in Edmonton. Think of the contributions that Adrian Aucoin made to PHX when they signed him at 36. He spend 3 years playing solid hockey while tutoring OEL and Yandle.

Chances of Sutter wanting to trade Regehr are low, but Lombardi might see it differently.

Avatar
#230 Spencer
February 09 2014, 01:49PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

Perron. Hall and Ebs are the 3 players you do not want to trade. A Dwight King between Hall and Ebs or 2 line between Perron and ? would be dominant. RNH can bounce between 1st and 2nd line.

Sam G, Ales H and Yak are all great trading pieces to acquire 2 power forwards and a solid D man. All new acquisitions should be 6'1 and 215 pounds +. You could also toss in N Shultz, Potter and Petry. Keep AF, MF, JS, AB, PL. Aquire 2 other good big D men. Larson could also be used as a 2nd or 3rd line wingers. He is another guy that is smart and clutch skater.

Arco could be used as a trade or 4th line center. Perron and Arco have played with the most heart this year. Try Gazdic on the blue line or keep him as the enforcer with great skating skill.

The future of the Oilers are Hall, Ebs, Perron, Gazdic, Gordon, Arco, Marcininn, J Shultz(Mabye), Belov, Ference and Joensuu(providing he gets more physical) and a few others. I think Gazdic is a diamond in the rough.

Comments are closed for this article.