GAGNER/OILERS LIKELY TO SETTLE

Sam Gagner’s arbitration hearing is scheduled for this Friday, but the chances are slim an arbitrator will decide his next contract. Last year 24 players filed for arbitration, but only Shea Weber sat in front of an arbitrator, and he was awarded a record-setting one-year $7.5 million deal.

In the past two years 55 players have filed for arbitration, but only six went the distance.

Weber was the only one in 2011, while Tim Kennedy, Clarke MacArthur, Blake Wheeler, Antti Niemi and Jannik Hansen all faced an arbitrator and "won" in 2010.

Hansen was awarded $825,000 for one year and stayed with the Canucks while Wheeler got a one-year, $2.2 million deal with the Bruins.

Kennedy was awarded $1 million on a one-year, one-way contract from the Sabres. He won his case on July 29th, but on August 2nd the Sabres put Kennedy on waivers. No one claimed him and the next day the Sabres bought him out at $333,333.00. He signed a one-year $550,000 with the Rangers later that month, but spent the entire year in the AHL. He ended up making $883,333 that year.

MacArthur was awarded a one-year $2.4 million deal, but the Thrashers walked away from it and he became a UFA. He ended up signing with the Leafs for a year at $1.4 million.

Niemi was awarded $2.75 million, but the Hawks elected to walk away due to their tight cap situation. Niemi ended up signing for one year with the Sharks for $2 million.

Even though MacArthur, Niemi and Kennedy "won" their cases with an arbitrator they ended up making less money playing for other teams. I wonder if that is why so few players end up in front of an arbitrator, because even if they win, they can end up losing.

HOW LONG WILL DEAL BE?

Gagner will likely make between $3.1 and $3.5 million on his new deal, but the better question is how long will his new contract be?

Most arbitration cases end up being one-year deals, so a multi-year deal from the Oilers will instantly be more enticing as long as it is a legit offer.

History suggests there is a good chance the Oilers and Gagner could still sign a long-term deal despite their impending arbitration date.

In 2008, Brooks Laich signed a three-year, $6.2 million deal to stay with the Capitals, Dennis Wideman signed a four-year, $15.75 million pact with the Bruins, Valtteri Filppulla inked a five-year, $15 million deal with the Wings while Pierre-Marc Bouchard signed for five years at $20.4 million.

In 2009, Kyle Brodziak and Tuomo Ruutu signed three-year deals with Minnesota and Carolina, while Travis Zajac and the Devils agreed to a four-year deal before their arbitration hearings.

David Perron filed for arbitration this year, but he signed a four-year deal with the Blues later that day.

My best guess is that Gagner signs for one year, but the Oilers might be better off signing him for three. They wrap him up at a decent price and it likely would make him more attractive to a trading partner. It is easier to trade for a player when you know he won’t be a UFA the next season.

PECKHAM SIGNS

The Oilers announced via twitter that they have inked Theo Peckham to a one-year deal worth $1.075 million. The Oilers now have seven D-men on one-way deals, and Justin Schultz on a two-way.

Whitney, N. Schultz, Petry, Smid, Sutton, Potter, Peckham and J. Schultz could all start the season with the Oilers if they choose to keep eight defenders.

In 2010, Peckham was the Oilers 2nd most consistent blueline before Nathan Horton KO’ed him with a heavy shot. Peckham wasn’t the same player last year, but I like this signing.

The Oilers depth has been an issue the past few years, and signing Peckham gives them some needed depth on the backend. He needs to regain his on-ice swagger and confidence. If Peckham shows up at camp in great shape and ready to compete for a job on the 3rd pairing he could be a solid addition.

The onus is on Peckham to be ready come September, or whenever camp starts, and prove to the Oilers that he can be as reliable in 2012/2013 as he was in 2010/2011.