Might circumstance and necessity make the Edmonton Oilers and Toronto Maple Leafs trade partners? Toronto Star columnist Damien Cox fuelled speculation today it might be so, citing "persistent chatter" the Maple Leafs are interested in Sam Gagner.

The Oilers are deep at forward and light on defensemen, while the Maple Leafs are relatively deep on the blue line but are looking to improve down the middle, which prompted Cox to mention via Twitter that this "persistent chatter" — no word on who is actually doing the talking — makes some sense.

Might there be common ground for a deal there?


Often-injured Tim Connolly, who was supposed to play centre on Toronto’s the top line alongside Phil Kessel, is out with a bad shoulder and not expected to play in the Maple Leafs first two games, including the season-opener against Montreal.

Gagner, meanwhile, has been nursing a sprained ankle, so there’s no guarantee he’d be ready any sooner than Connolly. In the longer term, however, GM Brian Burke might be looking for somebody like Gagner to bolster his top nine. Burke just added face-off specialist David Steckel, but he’s a fourth-liner.

The Oilers have Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Shawn Horcoff, Eric Belanger, Anton Lander and Gagner, when he’s healthy, as centres. They also have Chris Vandevelde and Ryan O’Marra on the AHL farm.

While there are questions about Edmonton’s blue line depth, especially with Ryan Whitney coming off ankle surgery and Ladislav Smid out with a separated shoulder, the Maple Leafs are heavy on the back end.

They have Dion Phaneuf, Carl Gunnarsson, John-Michael Liles, Luke Schenn, Mike Komisarek and rookie Jake Gardiner in their top six, with Cody Franson, Keith Aulie and Matt Lashoff, just sent to the minors, waiting in the wings.

Even if the Maple Leafs are interested in Gagner, as Cox says, it doesn’t mean a thing unless Edmonton GM Steve Tambellini sees somebody in that group as a useful part on his blue line.

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.

  • Romanus

    Gagner is all hype, always talks about how he trains hard during the offseason but it never shows during reg season

    I say we trade him for phaneuf so we get to see more elisha cuthbert in Edmonton lol jk

  • db7db7db7

    I think Gagner is more valuable if packaged with Hemsky. ST should be aggressively hounding Nashville. They won’t resign both Suter and Weber, so the package mentioned above should hopefully be enough to pry one of them away. My preference is Weber. Omark can take Hemsky’s minutes making room for Hartikainen, and RNH, Belanger, Horcoff and Lander are a great center foursome.

  • adamjames

    Trading Gagner scares me personally. I wouldn’t want him traded for anything less than Luke Schenn, and even still, predicting how a young defenseman will turn out is a total crapshoot. Even an excellent young defenseman can be derailed by injury, ala Ryan Whitney. I’d be completely fine running this defense all season if it means Ryan Murray at the draft. One more year won’t hurt.

  • Douche Nietzsche

    @ Robin Brownlee

    Anything else on Twitter from Ontario about the Oilers?

    We should trade Gagner for that Brady guy. It would benefit the fanbase, especially Oilersnation, having someone who has insight on the Oilers, instead of people just making up stuff and going with it.

    • It seems obvious to me you’ve been intent on making a ripple here since signing up last Sunday. Good. Strong opinions are welcome. A few things, just so we get off on the right foot and you avoid getting your ass kicked out the door just as you’re getting started.

      While I’m late to Twitter, it’s obvious to me its the new version of the office water cooler, only the group of people batting ideas and stuff around is global.
      If your remark about items from Ontario on Twitter is meant to suggest what I’ve written is bogus or coming from questionable places based on geography, you’re mistaken.

      Again, as yesterday, I’ll cite a Toronto writer breaking the Chris Pronger trade request. Where the information comes from doesn’t matter.

      The exchange of info — some of it good, some of it out of left field — that used to take place only between reporters huddled in the rink or via e-mail and phone calls, is now on Twitter. Items that used to be contained in a short paragraph at the bottom of a sidebar or notebook, like “I’m hearing that . . .” are now on Twitter to get it out there right away in the name of timeliness. If you truly don’t understand this, then educate yourself. If you’re just being sarcastic to be a dick or to piss me off, then don’t.

      Brady and Cox, especially, are both working members of the media who cover sports in the Toronto market. Cox, like it or not, is very connected to what’s happening with the Maple Leafs. They don’t post stuff under fake names. While that doesn’t mean what they say, hint at or speculate on is gospel or should not be questioned, repeating what they say isn’t akin to trotting out “a friend of a girl who used to cut Sam Gagner’s hair told me . . .”

      — In the original Brady item and in today’s item about Gagner, please note question marks in the headlines.

      — In both items, note the word “speculation” in the very first paragraph.

      — In both items, I’ve attributed the information I passed along to those who generated the item, Brady and Cox, rather than throw out that “My information is . . .” or “According to sources . . .” thus making it sound like I uncovered something. While I like to be first with a story, nobody gets the inside line first all the time. When somebody else breaks something, or suggests something that might be in the works that impacts the Oilers, you pass it on and credit the person who came up with it. It generates interest, debate and discussion. That’s what we do here.

      Despite running items based on something I read on Twitter on back-to-back days, I have no intention of using it to replace good old-fashioned sniffing around. Twitter is a complement to that, just as advanced stats are to eye-balling what happens out on the ice.

      If a fossil like me can change with the times and get the hang of this stuff, surely a smart, young person such as yourself can.

      Or, like I said, maybe you were just being a dick. If that’s the case, we won’t even remember your fake name a month from now.


      • Douche Nietzsche

        Thank You for the warm welcome and the reply, Robin.

        I am strongly opinioned on most things I have a opinion on, and I am also a passionate Oilers fan. Sometime I play the devils advocate just for the sake of a discussion or to better understand the other point of view.

        To be honest with you, I felt it was very disrespectful towards the Oilers to make this a big story just on the strength of hearsay. But to each is own, I guess.

        Thank You again and keep on keeping on.

        • Douche Nietzsche

          I didn’t make this a big story. It’s only big if people care enough to read it and comment on it. I chose to pass on a Cox item. Our readers take it from there.

          I’m trying to get a feel for what your game is here. Considering I gave you some razzing in my explanation, you’ve come back with a reasonable, calm response.

          At the same time, we’ve got comments you’ve written today that won’t be published because they’re in all CAPS and laden with profanities directed at other people here. Is that playing devil’s advocate?

          • Douche Nietzsche

            Unless, I got a case of amnesia and don’t know about, I don’t recall writing anything in CAPS. I have only made 10 or so comments in total, and I am certain none were in CAPS or disrespectful.

            If you, or who ever else might have these messages, could please find the time to forward them to my e-mail, I would like to see them. Maybe my account is hacked or one of my friends used my laptop while I was away. I apologize for what ever was said or if anyone was insulted but I can guarantee you it wasn’t me.

    • adamjames

      jeez i’d hate to talk about stuff related to the oilers based on location of said information.

      it’s a blog site so you shouldn’t get your panties in a knot about stuff said. is it gonna change your life?

      i actually like what RB is bringing with these twitter/ social media rumours. it is discussion material for a rabid fan base. flase or true my opinion matters about as much as yours to the people who make decisions, not at all.


  • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

    is RNH going to be here past game 9? we still don’t know. we all hope he will be, but it’s not a guarantee yet. we should probably hold off on the Gagner chatter for now.

  • TKB2677

    Here is the thing. Is Gagner really better than Belanger?

    In the last 4 seasons, Belanger has scored 40, 41, 36, 37 points. With 13, 15, 13, 13 goals. He was +11, +3, +2, -5 in those seasons. All the while being top 15 in faceoffs and a good penalty killer while not getting a lot of PP time.

    Gagner in the last 4 seasons has scored 42, 42, 41, 49 points. With 15, 15, 16, 13 goals. He was -17, -8, -1, -21. He has been terrible at faceoffs, doesn’t kill penalties and gets way more power play time than Belanger.

    Other than being younger, his stats aren’t much better and he is terrible at a critical area which is winning faceoffs. I like Gagner, I would be sad to see him go but the Oilers defence right now is bad. When you have Tom Gilbert as your #2, that is not good. They have to do something.

    In order to get something good, you have to give up something. There are some question marks in regards to Hopkins and Lander because it’s their first season but in a year who gets bumped out of the center position to give Gagner a spot. Right now its easy because Hopkins and Lander are rookies but not next year. When healthy, is Gagner better than Horcoff? As much as I am not a Horcoff fan, I looked at the stats and Gagner isn’t better than Horcoff right now and Horcoff can win faceoffs and kill penalties. Gagner is going into year 5 and he can’t do that. We all see the potential that Gagner appears to have but after 4 seasons and he hasn’t gotten a lot better. If he hadn’t of got hurt last year, he most likely would of broke 50 pts but is that something to be excited about? Took an offensive center 4 years to break 50 points?

    • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

      Being younger is the big key.

      Belanger’s first 4 years 21pts, 24pts, 35pts, 31pts. 14, 2, -5, -16. He was also 23 when he started.

  • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

    The Oilers have Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Shawn Horcoff, Eric Belanger, Anton Lander and Gagner, when he’s healthy, as centres. They also have Chris Vandevelde and Ryan O’Marra on the AHL farm.

    Reading this doesn’t make the thought of moving Gagner seem like a smart one. VV and O’Marra at best are fill ins at this point. RNH and Lander are unknowns. Given this teams injury history I just don’t see the need to move Gagner yet.

    What does TO have to offer? Either 2 guys that are greatly overpaid or a bunch of guys that really are no further along the development curve than our guys.

  • TKB2677

    Right now the only thing holding the Oilers back from being a good team is their defence.
    With Gagner out of the line up, the Oilers centers are Hopkins, Horcoff, Belanger, Lander. Yes Hopkins and Lander are rookies and they will have their ups and downs. But next year, with Horcoff and Belanger signed for 2 more seasons and Hopkins and Lander with a year of pro under their belt, exactly where does Gagner fit?
    I like Gagner but looking forward, I don’t see a spot for him.
    Belanger last season had similar points as Gagner, but Belanger can win faceoffs, kill penalties and be good in his own zone. SO is Gagner really that much better? He’s going into his 5th season and so far I would have to say no Gagner isn’t better. As of last season, he still can’t win faceoffs, he still is terrible in his own zone, he still can’t kill penalties. This season if everything goes well, what is realist for Gagner? Scoring high 50’s in points. That would be a 15 point jump. That’s a fairly big jump. He was crappy at faceoffs, is he suddenly going to be in the top 10? NO. He was a disaster in his end for the 4th straight year last year, is he suddenly going to be Selke candidate this year? NO.
    I expect Gagner to get better in all departments but he still has a way to go.

    It is hard to say where Gagner will evolve too but based on 4 seasons of NHL play that hasn’t got much better than his first season, I am fairly confident in saying Gagner will turn into an ok 2nd line center. If the Oilers can get a quality, young, top 4 Dman and it takes a future ok 2nd line center. I’d say that’s pretty good value.

    • longbottom/P.Biglow

      Remember the age difference and that Belanger id ten tears older than Gagner. look at all the top centers and 50-75%of them finally got it going after year four. Take Daniel Sedin his first four years he was known as soft, and didn’t exactly know where his end of the Ice is and averaged 32.7 points a year. Now look at Gagner not exactly soft but not very defensive and ave 43.2 points a season. I always as wait 5 yrs on a top prospect in the NHL. Its the 5yr rule, they get it on the 5th year.

        • longbottom/P.Biglow

          You might want to check them yourself.
          I checked the ten top centers 7(H.Sedin, J Thorton, P Datsyuk, C Perry, V Lecavlier, B Richards, M.Richards) the 5 year rule held true and 3(Crosby, Malkin, Stall) came in right away and scored 75+ points a year with in the five years. so thats 70% of the top ten centers in the league. Gagner isn’t a top ranked center yet but he has also played 4 years. And of the 7centers named above Gagner ranked between Thorton at 44.8PPS and H Sedin at 34PPS Gagner at 43.2PPS.

          • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

            What the?

            Those are the top 10 centers?

            If we want to pick 75 points as the magical number for a “breakout” the actual top 10 centers broke 75 points in year:

            Sedin 5

            Stamkos 2

            B Richards 4(74 points in year 3)

            Stall 2

            Toews 4 (69 points in year 2)

            Getzlaf 3

            Kesler 6

            Kopitar 2

            Ribero 8 (but it was only his 3rd full season

            Thorton 5 (but he had 71 in 72 games his 3rd year)

            Not only did some of the guys you listed score 75+ before their 5 year, some of them aren’t even centers.

          • longbottom/P.Biglow

            You missed my whole point Year five is generally when centers get it. Year five and there after they consistiently break it as for the first four years I averaged them out to make a point Gagner isn’t that far off, You also noticed that I said that the top four on the list did it consistenly. Every player I posted was listed as a Center by the Team so If you want to argue that point go tell the Teams, their roster listing is wrong according to you. I didn’t Include Some of those centers listed as they are not generally considered to be in the top ten, Toews would be the closet but is he a better center than any I have listed? IMO no.But other wise TY for proveing my point that first line centers don’t magically put up 75 points per season right off. Second line centers (which most agree Gagner falls into) is this season I bet.

          • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

            You don’t really have a point because your whole premise is incorrect, top centers usually “get it” far before year 5. So I’m not really sure why you keep stating otherwise.

            Even some of the guys you listed that supposedly “prove your point” put up 75+ before their 5th year. B Richards in year 4 and M Richards in year 3. So you don’t even have your facts straight.

            Also, considering theirs usually less then 10 centers per year that put up 75+ points, that’s a ridiculously high mark to put up as your definition.

            Finally, Perry is listed as a winger, which is what he is. So I have no idea where you are getting that he is a center from.

          • Sam’s case is a bit more complicated. Those other guys you’re thinking about were on teams in “win mode” and given support with actual NHL’ers as linemates.

            I’m not going to say that Sam is a #1 forward because I think he still has to earn it. But he would have been far better off in a team system that wasn’t so completely screwed up. Hell, on most decent teams he’d only be in his third year.

      • Quicksilver ballet

        I swear if I hear one more person compare Gagner to any one of the Sedins I am going to PUKE! He is not and never be 6’2″ swedish twins!! If someone sees untapped potential in Gagner for the future and are willing to pay for it now then take it! The Oil have done a good job of stunting his career by sucking really bad and forcing him to play in a position where he has to be the guy now rather than growing in to that player. He is still young, that’s great and that is the reason we may be able to get some help on the back end in return. Unless you want the future oilers to flounder because A) we can’t keep the puck out of our own net. B) we cant get the puck to our forwards. We are destined to continue to fail and put the young forwards with potential in positions to fail, which history has shown does not translate into a bright future.

    • He was on pace for close to 50 BEFORE being sliced open by a skate blade. Moving up to the mid 50’s or even the high 50’s is NOT as big of a jump as you present it.

      And if Gagner at 21 could produce points at the pace of someone who has been playing Pro for 14 years, dont you think that just maybe giving up on him at 22 is a tad pre-mature?

      Obviously if the price is right anybody is available, but how long are Horcoff and Belanger going to be able to be 2C’s? I look at RNH, Gagner, and Lander and I see the team’s future #1,2,3 all set up but with almost nobody coming behind them. I see the wing, on the other hand, and I see kids waiting down on the farm to snatch time away from anyone who faulters.

      Combine that with the near certainty that Hemsky has to be moved regardless of what the Oilers do with Sam Gagner and I dont see a need to rush the movement of Samwise.

      • Peterborough

        “I look at RNH, Gagner, and Lander and I see the team’s future #1,2,3 all set up but with almost nobody coming behind them”

        Ryan Martindale
        Tyler Pitlick
        Travis Ewanyk

        Those guys all have a shot, at least one year away each guy and probably three; However to say there is almost no one behind them is huge mistake.

          • Jerk Store

            Beg to differ on your conclusion. While it is true these young guys have not proven anything in terms of being NHL ready, it can be argued their pedigree is better than two of the incumbent centers of which you speak. Martindale and Ewanyk were both 3rd rounders, 61st and 74th respectively. Belanger and Horcoff were both 4th rounders 96th and 99th overall. And the two younger fellows were drafted by the scouting mensch, Stu TBS MacGregor.
            While neither player is a lock by any stretch, my only point is they are arguably further up the food chain than 10 and 20, at the same point in their young careers. Ewanyk will never be a big time scorer in the NHL but he is an excellent face off guy, checker, agitator and will drop the mitts at the drop of a hat. In a few years if he continues to develop could be a valuable checking center. Ask the “Nuge” how much fun he was to play against during the WHL playoffs last year. 5 on 5 Nuge did not do much especially when the OKings had last change. Martindale is a bit of an enigma but is a big body with skill. Do not count him out either. Respectfully, JS.

          • Ask the “Nuge” how much fun he was to play against during the WHL playoffs last year. 5 on 5 Nuge did not do much especially when the OKings had last change.

            What are you talking about? In 4 playoff games against Edmonton Hopkins put up 9 points and 7 of them were even strength.

          • Jerk Store

            It was well documented and reported throughout the series that the Rebels did everything they could to keep NH away from Ewanyk and they succeeded with last change at home. They could not on the road. All I am saying was NH only managed one ES point when Ewanyk was on the ice. His performance in that series elevated his draft position. Period.

      • RexLibris

        Only enemies he hasn’t met yet.

        If Gagner were to be moved it would be likely when he is healthy and after he has played a few games to show that he is back in shape.

        The return for Gagner, if I’m Tambellini, would be Franson and Aulie or one of them and a first round pick. My reason for the steep price is that we don’t need to move Gagner, he’s still very young, and if Burke were to add Gagner to their top line then a first round pick would not likely be in the top 12 and so reduce the percieved cost of the return. Tambellini could even make the pick an optional 2012 or 2013. The problem with acquiring Franson and Aulie is that while one (Franson) might play on your d-line this year, the other would be added to what is already a log-jam of developing defensive prospects. That being said, adding Franson and a 1st rounder for Gagner immediately buys some time for the prospects like Teubert and Marincin and others to develop at their own pace. It also would spell the end of Motin’s and Plante’s time in the organization.

        The fact that this is coming from Damien Cox though, the same person who reported that Hall was pulling strings and pressuring Lowe to wear #4 last year, means that this rumour should be evaluated with the same ironclad rating as another Hockey Insider: I’d give it an e3.

  • 1) Damien Cox grates on my nerves for some reason that I cant put a finger on.

    2) I would be much happier if these rumours were coming in around Christmas when we have a pretty good idea about how Sam Gagner fits in this Oiler top 9.

    I dont see the market for Sam Gagner being very high right now. I doubt his play will regress, but the potential for growth is still there. It just seems like the wrong time to pull the trigger on him.

  • Woogie

    The problem with a trade with Gagner is we don’t really have a top 2 centermen without Gagner.

    sure RNH is a good #1 or #2 center but nobody else would fit. I’m not convinced Belanger is a top tier forward.

    I would rather give up someone on the wing then down the middle.

    • Talbot17

      I agree. As much as people say we are deep in the forward positions. I don’t believe we are that deep at Center. We have Horcoff, Belanger, and Gagner (or Gagne as some people like to refer to him as) with any NHL experience. RNH and Lander might be excellent Centers in the future. But we can’t think that the Oilers can contend withouth NHL Vets. Gagner is still very young with a lot of upside. And he has experience at the NHL level. We can’t afford to trade him.

      I feel we are a lot deeper on the wings. We have young players with skill. Trade one of those for an experienced Dman. Trade a young winger with a prospect and a draft pick or two for a dman if we can.

      The Oilers aren’t going to be contending for the cup this year. They still don’t have a solid #1 center (RNH is the hope for that spot) so it doesn’t make sense to trade away one our few NHL centermen. It will just make this team worse.

      • You make good points. There’s lot of room for debate whether trading Gagner makes sense. Likewise, who’d have to come back in any trade.

        To borrow from Cox, while there’s “persistent chatter” the Maple Leafs are interested in Gagner, that chatter doesn’t mean a damn thing unless it comes from Toronto brass AND the Maple Leafs are interested enough to get on the phone with Tambellini and start naming names that make a discussion worthwhile.

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F


    is it even reasonable to suggest a Schenn for Gagner deal? would that be fair value?

    don’t get me wrong i doubt toronto would want this and rather get or rid of 2, like an Aulie and Franson but who am i to say.