What Might a Sam Gagner Trade Look Like?

Jonathan Willis
April 08 2014 08:00AM

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Consensus wisdom has it that the Edmonton Oilers and Sam Gagner will likely part ways this summer. If that does happen, what might that trade look like?

All About the Benjamins…

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Even in the summer, the dollars need to make sense, which means that one way or the other the Oilers will likely be taking salary back in any deal involving Gagner. That might mean retaining some salary in a deal that sees a lower-salaried player and/or draft picks come back the other way, or it might involve trading for some other team’s headache.

Who might fit that bill? Here are five possibilities:

Dustin Byfuglien, Winnipeg. The big defenceman/right wing has been a fixture in the rumour mill thanks to a lousy season with the Jets, and second line centre Olli Jokinen is a pending free agent. The problem here is that Byfuglien’s a better player than Gagner and with Mark Scheifele on the upswing the Jets very well might not be too worried about adding another scoring pivot.

David Clarkson, Toronto. We know the Oilers had interest in Clarkson, we know that things have gone poorly this year for the Leafs, and we know Toronto probably wants to bolster its centre depth chart. I’ve speculated about this previously, but right now I think that contract is just too toxic to take on – regardless of how the Leafs sweeten it.

Tomas Kopecky, Florida. Gagner would bring some much-needed offence to Florida (he’d be tied for the Panthers’ scoring lead if he played there, despite the disastrous season he’s had) and Kopecky would add a big third-line body to the Oilers’ roster. If Florida were willing to sweeten the deal, this might be of interest.

Mike Ribeiro, Phoenix. A point-per-game player in 2013-14, Ribeiro has faded down the stretch in Phoenix and was recently a healthy scratch for the Coyotes. His contract is riskier than Gagner’s, but he’s also been a better player over his NHL career and he’d add a secondary offensive presence at centre Edmonton hasn’t had for a long time.

Viktor Stalberg, Nashville. Like Kopecky, Stalberg’s a big body who hasn’t lived up to his contract, and like Florida the Predators need offensive help.

There are others out there, but these nicely illustrate the player types. Good players on big contracts who have fallen out of favour, nightmare contracts, lesser players who need a change of scenery and other gambles.

The Problem

Craig MacTavish7

The trouble Craig MacTavish has is that his team is still desperately short of NHL players. He’s done a nice job of adding pieces to the mix, but he’s moved some guys who fit the bill (most recently Ales Hemsky) without bringing an NHL player back as part of the return.

He may do it again with Gagner, but if at all possible he shouldn’t. Gagner has his problems and probably isn’t a good fit for the Oilers right now, but moving him out without bringing somebody back opens up one more hole in a roster that already looks far too much like Swiss cheese.

RECENTLY BY JONATHAN WILLIS

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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, Sportsnet, 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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#101 Chris
April 08 2014, 04:45PM
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TigerUnderGlass wrote:

Faceoffs are not nearly as important as many people seem to believe them to be.

If you read gregor's article, he mentioned that we are 20th in face off %, and that only one of the teams below us is holding a playoff spot. So if 90% of the bottom 10 teams are out of the playoffs I'd say there's a correlation there!

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#102 michael
April 08 2014, 05:08PM
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Ambassador humantorch wrote:
The Oilers will get ten cents on the dollar for Gagner. Not in my lifetime have I seen any GM piss away an asset for so little return.

Except for nearly every trade Tambellini made ever.

Touche. Mr Dithers record though clearly shows that the majority of his moves were made during free agency. His reign will be forever remembered as as one that lacked trades. Hence the moniker Mr Dithers.

MacT thankfully is not as dithering.

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#103 michael
April 08 2014, 05:20PM
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Question? Are not compliance buyouts limited to 2 per team and were only a one time only deal between the NHLPA and the NHL? Once a team used up their compliance buyouts that was it.No more. I believe we have one left. I thought we used one on Belanger. Find me where compliance buyouts are now every year. I know that you can buyout players but you have to retain a portion of the salary against your cap. And the amount is related to the age of the player I think.

Could someone clarify this for me.

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#104 SmythforMayor
April 08 2014, 05:22PM
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Tim in Kelowna wrote:

Care to elaborate?

I Agree with him so I'll take a crack at it. Arcobello > Gagner in almost every statistical category. Arco proj. 82g= 36 points Gags actual = 36 points sure Sam missed 14 games but he played EVERY shift on the second line with offensive players. Arco played up and down the lineup with grinders... and he's a rookie so obviously we would expect his numbers to get better. Gags point/60 =1.50 Arco p/60=1.84 =/-, fenwick, corsi, face-offs, HITS, whatever... look them up. Arco is a rookie and he plays 200 feet better than Gags. period. He doesn't play small, was leading the team in hits earlier in the year. add the fact that his contract is 4 MILLION dollars cheaper. Arco might not be a long term solution but he is better than keeping Sam for another losing season. And to be honest, I like Sam. This organization rushed him along and ruined him. We have a better option tho

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#105 SmythforMayor
April 08 2014, 05:27PM
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I am seriously missing punctuation. sorry. i had pargraph breaks but they disappeared. pfft nooob

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#107 Tim in Kelowna
April 08 2014, 06:32PM
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@SmythforMayor

Fair point about the statistical argument, but I think the sample size is too small to be saying he is as good an NHL player as Gagner is. Sam has had a bad season, but I'm guessing that has something to do with the broken jaw that derailed his season. He rushed back and never really got back up to speed. He has looked uncomfortable all season long. His big problem is every other year he has one of these huge injuries during, or right after, training camp. His cap hit is not ideal, but I think it's fair to assume that 2012-13 is a more accurate reflection of the real Sam Gagner than the 2013-14 edition.

I agree, he was rushed into the NHL, but I think it's a stretch to say he is ruined. I would rather keep him and see what next year holds than trade him for a bag of pucks just to see him thrive.

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#108 Saytalk
April 08 2014, 07:19PM
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The idea of buy-low sell-high is an oversimplification of personnel management. This is a hockey team, not a day trader's stock portfolio!

By the logic of only selling a player when his value is high, MacT should trade away Hall, Marincin and Scrivens this summer. And to buy low, he should make all of his acquisitions through waivers and by signing college free agents. Imagine all of the draft picks, prospects, cap space and slumping players that this team could accumulate for its diversified portfolio.

Building a winning hockey team is more complicated than that. If Gagner is dealt for nickels on the dollar, then fine. This team clearly needs to change its mix of players and holding on to them just because they might turn it around next year is not a valid reason to keep the wrong mix.

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#109 CMG30
April 08 2014, 08:53PM
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If moving Gagner doesn't fill a hole equivalent to a 2C then don't make the move. We don't need to take 10 cents on the dollar worth of picks and prospects.

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#110 Randaman
April 08 2014, 09:30PM
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Tim in Kelowna wrote:

Fair point about the statistical argument, but I think the sample size is too small to be saying he is as good an NHL player as Gagner is. Sam has had a bad season, but I'm guessing that has something to do with the broken jaw that derailed his season. He rushed back and never really got back up to speed. He has looked uncomfortable all season long. His big problem is every other year he has one of these huge injuries during, or right after, training camp. His cap hit is not ideal, but I think it's fair to assume that 2012-13 is a more accurate reflection of the real Sam Gagner than the 2013-14 edition.

I agree, he was rushed into the NHL, but I think it's a stretch to say he is ruined. I would rather keep him and see what next year holds than trade him for a bag of pucks just to see him thrive.

So let him thrive in Buffalo or Nashville. Who cares? This team needs to make some hard decisions and moving Gagner is the correct decision no matter the return

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#111 TheresAlwaysNextYear
April 08 2014, 09:52PM
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yakupov playing with clarkson and arcobello/draisatl sounds pretty good right about now

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#112 SmythforMayor
April 08 2014, 10:08PM
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CMG30 wrote:

If moving Gagner doesn't fill a hole equivalent to a 2C then don't make the move. We don't need to take 10 cents on the dollar worth of picks and prospects.

You can't look at it that way. What we actually get when we trade Gagner will be spot for Arcobello/Lander/draft pick to play, 4.2 million dollars(gagner's salary minus arcobello's) to shop for a free agent, PLUS whatever bag of pucks we get back for him. Getting rid of Gagner is more about how it improves the team.... not what the return in trade looks like. Mike Gillis couldn't figure that out about Loungo's contract until it was too late. If we can find a home for Sam it helps the team. and we'll get a bag of pucks

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#113 Bryzarro World
April 08 2014, 10:54PM
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A fat chick in skinny jeans?

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#114 RigPig69
April 08 2014, 11:34PM
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Overpaid, "offensive", one-dimensional winger with 37 points along with term on his contract... and you expect teams to "sweeten the deal"? LOL SMH

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#115 SilverStreak
April 08 2014, 11:38PM
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We will finish no better than 2 or 3rd pick. Buffalo has said they like Ekblad. Move our pick and Gagner for the 1st overall

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#116 crabman
April 08 2014, 11:57PM
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ghostofberanek wrote:

Oh ok, let's, as a last place team, send out one of our precious few NHL players for a fourth round pick then. Just because he didn't meet the fans expectations of him.

I can't stand how the fans jump on a player with a mob mentality. There's no bloody way he can't learn a different role with the team.

It's not like they haven't been trying to get him to play defense for the past 7 years. What makes you think moving him to the 3rd line wing and asking him to play defense would possibly work?

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#117 RigPig69
April 09 2014, 12:04AM
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*Center (not winger)

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#118 crabman
April 09 2014, 12:04AM
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@Tim in Kelowna`

Cogliano didn't become a different style player overnight. The Ducks taught him to play that way. I don't know if it's because Ganger can't learn to play defense or if it's the Oilers that can't teach defense but there has been no improvement in that part of his game over the past 7 years. I haven't seen anything this year that suggests to me that next year will be any different for him.

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#119 Tim n Kelowna
April 09 2014, 02:08AM
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Randaman wrote:

So let him thrive in Buffalo or Nashville. Who cares? This team needs to make some hard decisions and moving Gagner is the correct decision no matter the return

No matter the return? The Oilers can't afford to be so nonchalant about trading assets (they suck). I would be all for trading Gagner if the return would fill any holes on this hockey team, but right now we'll get nothing for him. The fact is Gagner is an NHL veteran on a team that sorely needs NHL veterans. Shipping him out and slotting Arcobello in in his place is bonkers. Acrobello has played 42 NHL games. Making this team more inexperienced just seems counterproductive.

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#120 ChillyPepper
April 09 2014, 07:39AM
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And next year, when Gagner is gone and the team still doesn't make playoffs; and they are still battling for the bottom of the league... it will be another player who receives all the negativity and blame. After 8 years of people complaining about the upper staff and coaches, they still want to put the blame on a single player. Send Gagner off, and watch him excel at the game. When that happens, will people FINALLY stop blaming him for the travesty that is this team? Probably not.

You do not have a lot of control over things in your life, but you can control where you spend your money. The more people who spend their money on the Oilers, the less likely the owner is going to be to change the dynamics of the team. Why? Because it's a business. And while the product is terrible, people keep lining up to purchase it.

You call yourself fans; Katz calls you dollar bills.

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#121 Spydyr
April 09 2014, 09:03AM
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TigerUnderGlass wrote:

Faceoffs are not nearly as important as many people seem to believe them to be.

Yeah, having possession of the puck is over rated.

Facepalm.

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#122 vic
April 09 2014, 11:39AM
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trade Gagne for Griffin Rinhardt straight up

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#123 TigerUnderGlass
April 09 2014, 12:59PM
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Chris wrote:

If you read gregor's article, he mentioned that we are 20th in face off %, and that only one of the teams below us is holding a playoff spot. So if 90% of the bottom 10 teams are out of the playoffs I'd say there's a correlation there!

Your comment contains 2 major problems.

1. You haven't even bothered to find out if there is a real correlation. You have assumed based on severely limited data.

2. You have assumed correlation = causation. This is a common fallacy. Even if you proved a correlation you have along way to go before showing any sort of causation.

If we assume Gagner was at 50% how many more games do we win?

A bump from 46.9 to 50 means that over the course of the season so far Gagner would have one about 30 more faceoffs.

He has played 66 games, so that comes to a whopping difference of less than one more face off win every 2 games.

He would have to be at 53.8% to equal just 1 extra face off win per game.

So now lets assume the 53.8% and call it 66 extra faceoffs won per game. How does that translate into wins? It doesn't. It accounts for less than 2 goals over the course of an entire season.

Are people overvaluing faceoff wins? I'd say so.

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#124 TigerUnderGlass
April 09 2014, 01:01PM
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Spydyr wrote:

Yeah, having possession of the puck is over rated.

Facepalm.

Winning faceoffs obviously doesn't hurt, but people are acting like it's a major reason why the team is losing. It is not.

Having an entire team at 53% MIGHT give them 1 extra win.

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