During tonight’s Hotstove portion of the HNIC pre-game, Elliotte Friedman told the nation "Sam Gagner’s name is out there" and suggested the Oilers would find him a place he’d be comfortable with playing (if a transaction were to be completed). It sounds very much like the team and player have decided a move could be made if it fits for all sides, although specifics weren’t covered in the brief report.
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Gagner’s season went sideways in a hurry one autumn night in Vancouver, and the impact has been felt by player and team all season long. I don’t for a minute believe that the Kassian stick incident led us to this day, but it probably hurried it along.
Bottom line: Craig MacTavish has to make plans for next year. He has to ask questions:
- Is Dallas Eakins the coach of next year’s team?
- Do the Oilers need to improve up the middle?
- Has Mark Arcobello done enough to make Gagner expendable?
- Will the organization have the same number of similar talents in the top 6F next season?
- Can they get value for Gagner?
- Is Gagner a part of the future with Eakins in charge?
Those are tough questions, but the news today suggests that they exist in the organization and Sam Gagner (who perhaps Gagner has questions about his future as an Oiler) may be heading out of Edmonton during the season.
What does it all mean? Well, you never get full value in these situations, so prepare to be disappointed with the return. On the other hand, the Oilers will be going to market next summer with more money and will very likely arrive at training camp next fall with a bigger lineup.