Sam Gagner heads to salary arbitration

On the same day that the Edmonton Oilers announced new contracts for restricted free agents Jeff Petry and Devan Dubnyk, another elected to file for salary arbitration. Sam Gagner is one of 15 players to file for arbitration this summer.

Scott Reynolds of Copper and Blue looked at a list of likely comparables for Gagner late last month and suggested that based on the contracts those players received the Oilers really don’t have much to worry about:

The median contract is in fact Gagner’s last contract, which is a bit amusing, and serves to highlight the ways in which Gagner’s performance by the traditional offensive measures has stagnated. It’s also fun that he and Jakub Voracek continue to track well with one another as they have ever since they were drafted. But the best thing here for the Oilers is the absence of any truly scary numbers. Granted, Gagner has way more games played than most of these players, but even if he ends up at the high end of this chart (based on established performance), he wouldn’t end up grossly overpaid and would likely remain a desirable commodity via trade.

The only players on Reynold’s list to receive a contract north of $3.0 million per season were Stephen Weiss ($3.1 million/year on a six-year contract) and Dave Bolland ($3.375 million/year on a five-year deal). Both of those contracts took those players into unrestricted free agency; a one or two-year deal for Gagner wouldn’t do that.

I’ve argued previously that Gagner’s next contract would give us a good idea of whether or not the Oilers regarded him as a key part of their future. A short-term deal – especially a deal reached through the combative arbitration process – would be an indicator that the Oilers do not envision him as a long-term part of the plan down the middle.

If the Oilers do see Gagner as part of this rebuild, the best idea is probably to sign him to a longer-term deal before arbitration begins. On a four or five-year deal similar to that signed by Weiss or Bolland, Gagner would be an affordable secondary scoring option over the long haul.

This week by Jonathan Willis

  • RexLibris

    If I recall correctly, wasn’t Cogliano the last Oiler to go to arbitration. And he was then traded to Anaheim. Ergo, Sam Gagner will be traded to Anaheim for Bobby Ryan. That sounds perfectly reasonable, doesn’t it?

    I’m glad Petry and Dubnyk are signed, though I would have liked to see a longer contract for Petry.

    As for Gagner, I am not convinced he’ll make it to arbitration, I think the two will come to an agreement.

    I see Backlund (another ’07 draftee) got signed to a one year

  • John Chambers

    Jonathan, you’ve been a workhorse this summer. I’m of half a mind to think that “Jonathan Willis” is really a collection of writers.

    Good analysis about Gagner’s contract.

    For the record I’m all for moving Hall to C.