Sam Gagner and the Offer Sheet

The hardest thing to do in hockey is score goals. It is even more difficult when you’re a teenager. Sam Gagner is a young man who can impact offense at the NHL level (at a young age) which makes him a very valuable asset. If you’re an NHL team looking for a solid young center, a kid who can make things happen even at a tender age, Sam Gagner might be your man.

Gagner is a difficult player to project because he’s so young. #89 doesn’t have blazing speed, isn’t huge and can’t shoot the puck with great velocity or lightning release. What is there, then, to recommend him? A lot. Grey matter. Sublime vision, butter passes. Sam Gagner writes cheques with his passes that no linemate (save Dustin Penner) can cash. With all of the ridiculous talent on the wing this fall (Hall, MPS, Eberle) one imagines a Gagner-Penner tandem could produce this season’s Calder trophy winner.

Allow me to post some numbers:

  • Boxcars: 68gp, 15-26-41
  • Shots: 170
  • Plus Minus: -8
  • Corsi (Rel): 10.9 (2nd to Penner)
  • GF-GA ON: 37-43
  • 5×5/60: 1.56 (4th among regulars)
  • 5×4/60: 5.74 (1st among regulars)
  • Quality of Competition: 12th F
  • Quality of Teammates: 1st F
  • FO %: 47.4% in 709 FO’s
  • Offensive Zone FO %: 48.8 (4th easiest F)

This tells us the following: good boxcars (2nd on the team despite missing much of the season); solid plus minus (only three forwards posted a better number) and a ridiculous Corsi number (Oiler fans should be thrilled with that Corsi at 20). His production at EV strength in a lost season was solid but unspectacular, but his PP number screams "give the kid a chance" and one hopes Renney tosses Shawn Horcoff from the 1PP this fall. The Qual Comp/Qual Team means he was playing in ideal circumstances, which is laughable if you watched even a few Oiler games this season. Having said that, he delivered offensively and defensively based on those softer minutes. His faceoff percentage needs work but is improviing and he had a nice offensive zone faceoff number.What does it all mean? Sam Gagner is a solid young player developing quickly. He is a restricted free agent and could be an offer sheet target.

What would a team offer him? Below are the offer sheet numbers and the compensation required to sign a specific player:

  • $1,020,348 or below: No compensation.
  • $1,020,348 to $1,545,981: A third-round draft choice.
  • $1,545,981 to $3,091,963: A second round draft choice.
  • $3,091,963 to $4,637,944: A first-round choice and a third-rounder.
  • $4,637,944 to $6,183,925: A first- a second- and a third-rounder.
  • $6,183,925 to $7,729,907: Two First-round choices, a second-rounder and a third-rounder.
  • Over $7,729,907: Four first-rounders.

These numbers are for 2010, the new numbers would be a little higher because of the new cap total. A rival NHL team could offer Sam Gagner a long term contract at 3.091M per season (or this year’s version of that number) and risk only a 2nd round pick (based on these numbers please correct them if they’re wrong or you have an update). Should Edmonton match, an opposition GM has effectively disturbed Edmonton’s cap budget moving forward ala Vanek/Buffalo. Should Edmonton refuse to match, your club has a fine young center at an inflated (but not catastrophic) price. The offer sheet is a very expensive item for an NHL club, and I find it curious that the Edmonton Oilers haven’t been more aggressive in getting Samwise signed to a contract this summer.It is a calculated risk; Steve Tambellini’s cautious approach to spending this summer may end up having a major silver lining.

  • Heavyd

    Doesn’t the new free agency rules are new. I don’t think you have to be 27. I think after your entry level deal, then you sign your second contract, after that contract, then if you have played a certain amount of games, then you can become a free agent before you are 27. And since Gagner started at 18, then this might happen to him.

    I might be wrong.

  • Heavyd

    6 years would be two years of UFA.

    Hemsky was three years of UFA. IIRC, the lockout year counted and Hemsky played three (four counting lockout) before signing for six.

    Current standard is 7 years or 27 years old.

  • Oil72

    Thanks Lowetide for this as I was wondering why the Oilers haven’t signed Gagner yet. It is almost as if management decided to wait until the draft and then multitask and go crazy and do everything at once. BTW glad to read you here at ON!

  • Oil72

    Every year there are lots of talented young players prime for an offer sheet, & this year is no exception.

    Moulson, Hjalmarsson, Hornqvist, Fleischmann, Halak, Neal, Downie, M. Staal, Niemi, I. White, Stewart, Raymond, Little, Harding, Hanzal, Setoguchi, Girardi, Ladd, Mueller, Ryan, Price, Wheeler, E. Johnson

    With so many options & the “gentleman’s agreement” between GM’s when it comes to offer sheets, I wouldn’t lose any sleep over it with Gagner.

  • Gagner was the one player that had me salivating last year on a last place team. He has a first line center ceiling, and an second line center floor.

    Last time I checked, we weren’t flush at the center position. a guy that’s 20 years old and has the resume that Gagner does…I don’t think we should be letting him go ANYWHERE!

  • I can’t even believe that some people are talking about getting rid of Gagner as a good thing (not directed at you, LT).

    Every year all we talk about is getting skilled centers (sorry Hall) – we have a skilled center that IS 20 YEARS OLD!! Some fans are mad that he isn’t already Crosby or Malkin and are ready to ship him out.

    I don’t know why, but I’m always surprised at the shortsightedness of Oilers’ fans.

  • Via Corey Graham…

    Confirmed the Oilers have signed Alex Giroux. More to come on

    Born Jun 16 1981 — Quebec City, PQ
    Height 6.03 — Weight 202 — Shoots L

    2009-10: Hershey Bears 69GP 50-53-103 34PIM
    2009-10: Washington Capitals 9GP 1-2-3 4PIM
    NHL career: 31GP 4-5-9 16PIM

    I’d think he’s #1C in OKC

          • No, one way and two way deals have nothing to do with waiver status. Based on his 31 games played, I believe he wouldn’t have to clear waivers to go down. However, because he has a one-way contract, he will make NHL money to play for OKC.

            My suspicion is that because he is a superb AHLer and a mediocre NHLer, he’ll be back in the AHL and the Oilers will pay him NHL money happily because he could have made more to go to the KHL this year. If this is the case, then Tambellini and the Oil brass are proving how committed they are to all facets of this team to make the team a winner.

            Let’s face it, the Falcons were absolutely brutal last year after mid Dec or so (once Doobie was recalled). Having a guy who won back to back Calder cups and led the league in scoring in the regular season and playoffs could go a long way to making OKC a competitve team.

            Anyways, Brownlee or Gregor can confirm the Oilers’ intentions, but I suspect that’s the plan.

            edit: hmm, he seems to have his sites set on making the NHL (not that we should expect any less). Perhaps he was brought in to be the next Ryan Stone / Ryan Potulny reclamation project and will play in the NHL after all? Either way, I am sure the Oil will be happy to have him in their system… somewhere.

    • GSC

      If they’ve signed Giroux, I guess they weren’t joking about putting together a better team in OKC – Giroux has averaged 55 goals and 100 points in the AHL the last 2 seasons.

  • And without reading any comments yet, Sam Gagner… $3.85M/2 yrs, $1.925M per

    EDIT1: Comparables: Brandon Dubinsky ’09 – $3.7M/2yrs, $1.85M per; Drew Stafford ’09 – $3.9M/2 yrs, $1.9 per

    EDIT2: After those 2 comparables, perhaps he does slightly better, as his pedigree is slightly higher than those 2.

  • Oil72

    although if he’s on a one way, perhaps they have other plans?

    Maybe that’s what it took to get him signed, and they don’t mind paying him 500K to play in the AHL.

    Hard to not believe they are deadly serious about improving AHL development if they’re willing to spend 500K for a first line player in the AHL…

  • Jodes

    Gagner $2.5 M over two years(5M) , anything below that , and he might find it insulting enough to want to leave . Should be enough as a retainer, and flexible enough for both to renegotiate even by end of next season if things go good or bad .

  • I am always amazed by those who are down on Sam because he didn’t become a superstar at 18. I expect Hall will score more, but I see Sam as a future solid first line center, his overall game just keeps getting better. Hope they tie him up for 3 years at what ever it takes.

  • Gagner a top six forward just yet is questionable . A third line center of note , yes . If Hall moves to center , chances are pretty good Hall may be one of our top two centers . A very effective third line center with offensive flair such as Gagner at $2.5 M a season should be reasonable in the short term . Over committing at his stage right now is questionable . Horcoff will be one of our top two centers , and i still have not seen Gagner prove enough of an overall game to dethrone him .

  • a lg dubl dubl

    IMO i see Sam as a younger version of Doug Weight. Gagner is a playmaker center who reads the ice fairly well for his 1st 3 yrs, and you cant really balk at the points Sam has put up, sure his points declined last year but then again so did everyone else’s (penner not included) give the guy a break! He will only get better especally if hes on the same line with hemsky or eberle. Sam Gagner will be our 1st line center maybe not this year but hes right on the cusp of being one(and maybe a captain). Id sign him to a 2.5-3 million/yr deal easy! All you haters get off the bus!!!

    prediction for sam this year;

    goals: 15-20

    • GSC

      Until #89 becomes stronger on the puck, he won’t be another #39.

      IMO, that was one of Dougie’s most underrated skills. His vision, passing, and creativity was always excellent, but it was hard to get the puck off him once he had it in his possession. Great puckhandler who knew how to protect the puck, used leverage to his advantage.

      Gagner needs to learn the same before the two are spoken in the same breath.

  • Granted, they were different ages for these seasons, but let’s just take a look back at point totals for their first 3 NHL seasons & the 2nd contract Brandon Dubinsky got…

    07/08: 82GP 14-26-40 79PIM
    08/09: 82GP 13-28-41 112PIM
    09/10: 69GP 20-24-44 54PIM
    Career:239GP 47-78-125 247PIM (0.523pts/game

    Sam Gagner…

    07/08: 79GP 13-36-49 23PIM
    08/09: 76GP 16-25-41 51PIM
    09/10: 68GP 15-26-41 33PIM
    Career:223GP 44-87-131 107PIM (0.587 pts/game)

    Dubinsky, a late 2nd round pick in ’04, had 2 extra years of Jr. hockey, followed by a year in the AHL before making the jump. He was an RFA coming off of his 2nd full NHL season, a season in which he scored 41 pts in 82 GP (0.5pts/game). At that point, his career totals would have been 170GP 27-54-81 193PIM (0.476 pts/game).

    Dubinsky got a $3.7M, 2 year deal ($1.85M per)

    Gagner, with little to no bargaining power outside the offersheet route, gets qualified at $0.9625M (if I’m right on the 10% raise, I’ve heard its only 5% for some). So, outside of an offersheet, the Oilers technically could offer him $1M & Sam has no real bargaining power. However, going this route would be ‘playing chicken’ with Sam’s agent & other clubs. It would also leave a bad taste in Sam’s mouth moving forward.

    I think a pretty fair short-term offer would be $4.5M/2yrs… about amilli less than I’d ask for if I were Sam. Meet in the middle?

    • GSC

      Leaving a bad taste in his mouth should be the least of Tambellini’s worries. The Oilers have followed this course of action before, not wanting to step on too many toes and upset too many players in the organization. Bottom line: this is a business. Like Gordon Gekko said in Wall Street, “if you want a friend, get a dog.”

      There’s nothing wrong with telling Gagner that they want to see more out of him before shelling out the big bucks. It’s good business, and it’s how the organization needs to be run as opposed to throwing money around and hoping they get lucky.

    • Jamie B.

      The Rangers really played hardball with Dubinsky, if I recall. Your offer seems resonable but I bet Gagner’s agent (who is his agent, anyway? we know it’s not Mike Gillis anymore) is telling him to take a one-year deal.

    • cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan

      short term i think, while a tad low, it is probably a fair deal for both sides.

      toss brassards numbers into that comparison. gagners agent has to be looking at that deal and brassards stats as a comparable as well (granted it is a 4 year deal)

      4.5mil for 2 years..
      13mil for 4 years…

      somewhere in that ballbark probably is fair…in my little world anyways

  • cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan

    Consternation about offer sheets on Gagner, like contract offers at $4 million a year to lock him up now, is premature.

    I see Sam signing for short money on a one-year term for the upcoming season.

    If Gagner progresses to 50-55 points, as I suspect he will, then it makes sense — for both sides — to start talking about multiple years in the $3 million to $4 million range.

    The rush to lock up a player long-term based on what he “might” do instead of what he’s actually done is a product of the new CBA, and it’s a risky business.
    Sam is not going to sulk and demand a trade if the Oilers position is this: “Sam, let’s go one year. You’ll get every opportunity to shine. Kick some ass and we’ll talk some real term and money next summer.”

    • The rush to lock up a player long-term based on what he “might” do instead of what he’s actually done is a product of the new CBA, and it’s a risky business.

      It is also a necessary gamble if you ever intend to win unless you have veteran players deciding to give discounts to win cups. It isn’t as though NHL GMs invented this idea when the CBA came out, it has long been around in every sport with a salary cap. As long as there is a cap you have no choice but to pay players for what you believe they will do rather than what they have done.

      As far as I can tell there are 2 ways to get quality players at a bargain. 1) Draft them and win while they are young; and 2) Lock them up long term before they reach their potential.

      Certainly there is risk involved, which is why scouting and player development are so important. You have to make smart bets, and the managers that win in a cap world are either the ones who win big at the draft or the ones who make the most smart bets when signing contracts.

      If every player on a team are paid what they deserve and the team is still under the cap then they are not contending.

      I should add here that I am not suggesting they suddenly sign Gagner to a 4 million/year deal, I am saying that if the Oilers believe that he is Going to improve significantly they need to sign him to a number that they believe will be a bargain 2 or 3 years from now.

      • I think I already had a reasonable grip on the concepts contained in your first four paragraphs . . .

        As to the fifth, no they don’t “need” to sign him to a number they believe will be a bargain two or three years from now — not this season.

        They “need” to see a statement from Sam this season with a one-year deal, then offer a contract that reflects what they see. That’s not an approach an agent might like, but it’s the responsible approach.

        • Fair’s fair Brownlee – if you get to state the obvious by telling us all your brilliant insight that paying for future performance is a result of the salary cap then I get to point out the obvious too.

          It’s a philosophical difference – you believe it’s responsible while I believe the responsible thing to do is to try and find potential bargains.

          …but I should stop before you tell me again how you already know all this.

          • Off topic:

            MPS says he is equally comfortable on either side and the Oiler’s website actually has him listed at RW on their depth chart graphic.

            I realize that this is probably just to make sure his name is there and means nothing, but have you heard anything about the team wanting to look at him on the right?

            If that could work it could really settle the wing position on the top two lines with Hall and Penner on the left and Hemsky and MPS on the right.

            Also along those lines, if they tried Hall at center and it works out our future top six could potentially be set, with:


            No way you could run that as your top 6 next year, but down the road that could be a nice lineup.

            Frankly, I have no idea how difficult it is to switch positions at the NHL level, so I am at a loss trying to determine who can and can’t switch.

          • No way to know until Renney tells us what he foresees.

            I know fans love to scratch out lines, but what looks like a match on paper often falls flat when put into practice. I haven’t seen enough of MPS to know who he’d complement, regardless of the position he plays.

          • It’s true. I don’t know how many times certain combinations were considered brilliant but fell apart, and it isn’t just hockey. At the same time “looks good on paper” is as good a starting point as you can get isn’t it? Your point is why I asked though, because I wonder what the team is considering as possibilities.

  • “I’m satisfied that Sam Gagner is going to be a more complete player than most undersized skill centermen. I think much of his value will be in terms of offense, but it is also true that he is tracking as a useful outscorer even this early on (Rel Corsi 10.9, second best to Edmonton’s Babe Ruth, and his GF-GA was 37-43 on what was basically the 1899 Cleveland Spiders).

    How good can he be? He’s in a very nice neighborhood.”


    • DSF

      It’s nice to quote the new guy on the block but his assessment skills are a little suspect.

      Pouliot, JFJ are useful hockey players who should be retained, Smid should be traded, Horcoff is a legit #1 centre (and saying otherwise says more about you than it does about Horcoff) and Gagner is an outscorer?????

      When? How?. He’s getting killed by the softest possible opposition.

      Oh wait, his Corsi (a stat actually developed to track goalie movement) is better than some other dregs on the worst team in the National Hockey League.


  • Quicksilver ballet

    Gagner has shown glimpses of a point a game player but he’s still a number of years away from getting to that level on a more consistant basis. He’s shown enough to earn a 2 yr deal and like others have said, if he progresses toward that PAG player then he may be ready for a more secure 5 yr deal. I’m not so sure he can afford to have another 40’ish point season.