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.


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.

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Bottom line: Craig MacTavish has to make plans for next year. He has to ask questions:

  1. Is Dallas Eakins the coach of next year’s team?
  2. Do the Oilers need to improve up the middle?
  3. Has Mark Arcobello done enough to make Gagner expendable?
  4. Will the organization have the same number of similar talents in the top 6F next season?
  5. Can they get value for Gagner?
  6. 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.

We wait.

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  • CMG30

    Kevin Lowe’s definition of “winning” is completely different then any other person on earth.

    Inigo Montoya: Kevin you keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

  • Serious Gord

    I agree with Serious – the poor play has already impacted all sorts of revenue streams. Fans and sponsors had hope at the start of the year and now the hope is gone… in fact the whole situation reminds me the the last days of the Pocklington regime. I could go to a game and pick my seat at the game.

    The easiest way to gain hope is a whole scale coaching change during the Olympic break. Trading Sam would help the team but would not restore hope. Fans and sponsors need hope.

    • Serious Gord

      One aspect regarding seasons ticket holders and regular superpack buyers that is rarely if at all, discussed publically is that many of those holders have for years either broken even or made money selling those tickets in the secondary markets.

      Many are writing off the purchase cost and selling and not reporting the sale for cash. If your tax bracket is 38% you can sell them for a pretty hefty discount off the posted price and still be in the black. Many cherry pick the games they want to see and the sell the remainder at enough of a margin that they essentially get to watch for free.

      That market has got to be getting rocky. And these “tier one” buyers won’t tolerate losses both on ice or from their wallet.

  • Serious Gord

    On a different note, it’s nice to watch a real hockey game with real NHL players battling tonight on HNIC. Wow. Crazy how far the Oilers are from ever competing with the Kings/Ducks/Sharks of the NHL.

  • Serious Gord

    To heck with an actual NHL player, I think we’ll be lucky to get a 2nd round pick back for Gagner straight up. He’s massively underperforming his contract right now.

    Classic buy high, sell low move.

    This is the kind of crap that should get managers fired.

  • Serious Gord

    Sam Gagner is not a good fit for what we need going forward. He could be of use to another team but everybody knows Edmonton is desperate right now. I don’t see a big return but the fact is that we will not win with our top 6 currently constructed the way that it is.

  • Spydyr

    The Oilers should have thought “outside the box”, like they pride themselves on doing, right after Gagner got 8 points in a game last season, when he actually had trade value. I remember reading this blog and several astute posters suggested this right after Gagner’s 8 point game.
    Why would anyone in the league want a non-contact, flyby specialist, defensive nightmare like Gagner?

    In the past I have stuck up for Oiler management, and had some faith in the rebuild and believed that the management group, who have spent their whole lives in hockey, actually knew what they were doing. But after the absolute debacle of this season, which I believed to be the most important in franchise history, I have lost all trust and faith in management, coaching, scouting, ownership or anything to do with the sad-sack loser organization which has become the laughing stock of the league. I laugh when MacT constantly says that there are many GMs around the league who would love to have our roster and young stars. Who in their right mind would want what this? Is MacT on crack? Maybe the Oilers have their very own Rob Ford.

  • outdoorzguy

    As sick as we the fans are at the constant losing and ineptitude, at least we can change the channel. I’m actually at the point where I feel bad for our good players (as much as you can feel bad for a millionaire). They have to keep coming to the rink to get booed and asskicked night after night with only the witless wonders upstairs in a position to fix the mess. Which by historical evidence they are incapable of doing.

  • I tried it at home

    My New Years Resolutions –
    1- somehow rip the Edmonton franchise from D. Katz’s uncaring, unfeeling hands
    2- Thanks for incredibly passionate yet totally unsuccessful management, services no longer required; K.Lowe, C.Mactavish, S.Howson, R. Olczyk, and if anyone named Messier is on the payroll, thanks. Bye.
    3- Coaching. Easy enough. Thank you, gentlemen for your your long, long years of being here, but your services are no longer needed. Have a good one, and Bucky, mind signing my sweater before you leave?? (swoon)Oh, hey, Eakins. not so fast. Billy Moores is being brought in for a little chat, without anyone to look over his shoulder, Im curious what he will actually have to say about you.
    4- City of Edmonton, people of Northern Alberta, and Oilersnation worldwide. A new, responsible and actually mature approach to working together on a new arena ( no invisible elevators, etc) and an honest commitment to returning to a community minded, proud and visible symbol of our HOME. Not business interst, profit streams, ego projects… OUR HOME.

  • MacTavish.

    Looking ahead, The Oilers have very little options left; they don’t even leverage on a trade for Gagner, which belongs to Gagner, so if Gagner want to go to the Maple Leafs….well the Oilers options are limited.

    I can’t see the Oilers improving their position without massive change, not a player here or there but almost everyone.

    The problems I see, MacTavish is viewed by many in the MSM as an intelligent man, after Tambellini, he is a pretty confident, well-spoken man & accommodating compared to Steve.

    My issue, and has been from the start of MacTavish as GM is this; MacTavish is the same guy who helped give birth to the rebuild in the first place.

    MacTavish body of work so far, most of what he has done has been on the signing and trade front is pretty unremarkable to incomprehensible.

    He failed pre-draft in my estimate to move up in the draft secure a center (Monahan), this would have given him the leverage to move Gagner.

    He failed to land a starting goalie, even after offering Vancouver an overpayment for Schneider.

    He did the most alarming change in my mind by firing Krueger and hiring Eakins, this is what I would consider the arrogance & entitlement of the position he inherited.

    Krueger had the Oilers in the hunt for a playoff position playing with a weaker team on paper & playing tougher comp, had Tambellini reacted sooner…..well we can’t judge what if’s.

    I’m not buying the rookie coach thing ether, look at TB record with young kids and first year players.

    While overpaying for Ference & Gordon, I thought these were actually really good support signings; Eakins & MacTavish have viewed these signing differently, both play above what their roles would be on any other team.

    MacTavish went out, got no size, no talent, and no center depth, He talked about viewing Grebeshkov, Belov (the best defensemen not in the NHL) He talked about viewing Klefbom once and told the scout he’d seen enough to know.

    Which brings me to a bigger question, from coach to GM & the players that left town during his time with the Oilers, is it a fair assessment his view on talent ranks extremely low?

    Let’s bring in young Yakupov now, a good GM would have intervened by now, instead we get to watch the Oilers mishandle yet another young player; ask yourselves, have we seen this before with this management team?

    The only way we can judge this is by results, (he actually said this during his presser) well, after 40 games the team is trending backwards, its regressing in every facet of the game, and the team needs still remain the same as the day he took over.

    The Oilers still need center depth, (mostly to take some heat off an 20 year old kid RNH, so he can learn and develop at an easier pace, nothing like sinking or swimming) A viable replacement for Gagner.

    I’m going to throw this out there too; while Tambellini was not a good GM, he at least gave MacTavish the tools to use to get better, it’s not like MacTavish walked into his own mess & was told to clean it up, Tambellini cleaned up most of MacTavish’s & Lowe’s mess up.

    So what can MacTavish do? The mess this team is in, the only real solution would bepicks prospects & anyone not named RNH or Hall has to be traded for this team to be competitive & that still might not be enough.

    • papler

      I agree with most of what you write. McT made some glaring mistakes (Eakins, Ference&Gagner for too much $). But one tends to forget that in a trade market you need 2 sides come to a trade agreement.

      IMHO it’s unfair to blame McT for not trading up or landing a new goalie. We all know he tried, but the trading partners clearly wanted too much or were exploring other otions as well. Best example: VAN was willing to trade Schneider, but were hesitant to trade him to a Division rival. You cannot blame McT for that.

      I’m relieved that the Clarkson deal didn’t materialize. That would’ve been a terrible signing but by the time most would’ve probably applauded the deal Clarkson seemed just what this team needed.

      The biggest mistake, as I see it, was hiring Eakins, a coach with no NHL record, known only for his success with developing players in the AHL. What baffles me is that McT “liked” what he heard in the interview and based the hiring (and the sacking of Krueger) on that. That is an emotional move and unfortunately, emotions are the worst guide when running a business.
      I hope that was a rookie mistake by our GM and doesn’t repeat itself. God help us, if he makes decisions based on emotions

      also: smokey was over the line

      • Good points

        I’ll concede the Vancouver point, but I’m wondering why the Oilers didn’t three way that deal? What gets me more is MacTavish then went out and got a career back up, a goalie that on his best day wouldn’t be able to compete with Dubnyk.

        Why wouldn’t he look for a competent back up to challenge Dubnyk? A quick search just on shows at least a half dozen teams the Oilers could trade with prior to the season even starting.

        Instead MacTavish reacted late, over paid via UFA for a horrible goalie, and then signed an equally bad goalie again?

        The Gagner deal actually is much worse in terms of leverage and tradability, prior to the season starting or the deal itself, Gagner should have been moved, when your average fan knows that your 2C isn’t going to get it done, then signing a guy based on character is by the very definition insane.

        The fact that MacTavish was going to pay Clarkson more with longer term & the fact Clarkson choose the Leafs, tells us a couple things.

        The Oilers have to grossly overpay for average talent, that free agents despite being thrown huge dollar’s by the Oilers would rather play elsewhere, but the most damning of all, the Oilers would rather whale hunt UFA’s then draft develop and procure talent through scouting & trades, this is the fundamental reason why the Oilers feel into the abyss in the first place, coincidentally under the MacTavish,Lowe,Tambellini era.

  • HardBoiledOil 1.0

    Lots of talk of firing Lowe, but WHO replaces him. The President of hockey operations is critical to the vision and the standard for the team for the next ten years. It is one thing to hate on Lowe, but getting the highest quality to replace him may not be that easy.

  • HardBoiledOil 1.0

    Either the Oilers are taking back a similarly useless player with a similarly outrageous salary (and contract length) or the Oilers are topping up the deal with a pick.
    In any city where the media weren’t completely nut-gobblers for team management, they’d be writing colummns about how Gagner should be a buyout candidate. In other words: all cost, no return.

  • HardBoiledOil 1.0

    I am not and never have been a believer in Gagner. However if he or his representation think this is about a change of scenery they are delusional. Gagner is pathetic in the face-off circle and his own end. For 7+ seasons he has been the recipient of one golden opportunity after another and he scarcely seems to have learned anything.

    He was a poor draft choice who was valued based on his jr linemates. I pray Friedman is not toying with us.

    Bye bye, Sammy, your play makes me (Gag)ner. I will miss your post-loss opining and canned excuses (NOT)!!!

  • HardBoiledOil 1.0

    So what were the Oil thinking in signing Gagner to that big contract, and now supposedly trading him. Not sure what the Oilers are doing…Gags is just one more guy that is being crushed by the constant losing. RNH, Hall and Ebs will be next if the Oilers don’t figure this out. Funny how Cogs was roasted here in EDM as being undersized and not skilled enough to be a top 6 performer…all it took for him to reach his potential was to be traded out of Edmonton. typical, anyone leaving EDM blossoms, anyone coming to EDM goes backward.

  • Serious Gord

    What is wrong with all you people? Kevin Lowe is not to blame, why don’t you apply for the president or GM job if you guys think you can run an NHL team? Hockey Canada has Lowe on board for years with international hockey, if he is so bad they would not hire him. Katz own over a billion dollars pharmacy empire, do you think he does not know how to let people run his business? It’s the coaches that run the team, that’s where the wins and loses count. This team has too many coaches over the years that are screwing with the development of the players. Eakins is the wrong guy there now, worst in goals against, power plays and penalty kills are worse than previous years. The team is not winning, he is screwing up Yakupov (look what happened when he got more ice time, he scored each of the last 2 games) and now Sam Gagner (he broke his jaws and now he is in the dog house). We are keep trading players away and then they blossom else where. Eakins screwed up Nazem Kadri over here in Toronto too, because it’s his way or the high way style of coaching. So big deal if he can bike in a marathon in Denver that has nothing to do with winning hockey games. That’s the bottom line, score goals and allow less goals against and win games. I m a fan living in Toronto, it’s so sad to see Oilers are not doing well right now. Ralph Kruger was doing a fine job last few years there getting the players playing. I don’t see them are having fun out there playing this year.

  • Kind of ironic that on the same day Cogliano is offered a 3 year 12 million contract to play for one of the best teams in the league, rumors arise about trading Sam Gagner.

    I believed in MacT, maybe impressed by no-nonsense talk and apparent intelligence. However, I have now realized that he is just another incompetent manager in a long line of incompetent managers, who are getting schooled by almost every other management team in the league. If you stop and think how many bad signings, bad draft picks, bad trades, PR fiascos and bush-league moves the management group of the Oilers have made in the past 8 years, then is it really any surprise that they find themselves where they are? Katz must be a smart guy, being a billionaire businessman. So WTF can he not see this?

  • papler

    Re: Eakins

    I still don’t get why they declare that the organisation is going to compete for the playoffs and then hire a rookie coach.

    I understand the opinion by some, that another coaching change would hinder player development etc. But i can’t help but think about the Concorde Fallacy (aka sunk cost fallacy) with this whole thing. Yes, they would lose another year (the “sunk cost” in this case being time and coaches salary). But that should NOT be the reason to stick with Eakins. The only reason should be if they still believe (and have some sort of evidence) that Eakins can coach this team to success. If they don’t, they should replace him asap to not waste any more time

  • papler

    I’ve been a fan since 1975, and these are, without a doubt, the darkest days for this organization. The blunders that have led to this situation are widespread and have seriously crippled this organizations ability to compete, even a a mid-level, in the 30 league NHL. Some of the blunders are:

    * hiring mediocre ex-players from the 80’s to important positions in coaching and scouting

    * not having a farm team for many years

    * trying to emulate the Red Wings instead of building a team on simple, traditional hockey fundamentals

    * leaving Tambo at the controls for too long, and then replacing him with yet another ex-player who had a hand in creating this mess in the first place

    * not surrounding the few young good draft picks they have made, with competent veterans

    * losing may more trades then they win

    * chasing big fish UFAs who were never going to sign here, and letting fan favorites like GlenX walk away for nothing

    * and most of all, taking an incredibly loyal, passionate and patient fan-base for granted, and insulting the citizens of this fine city by threatening to move their piss poor team, and then subjecting us to arguably the worst stretch of sh*tshow hockey ever seen in the modern day NHL.

      • papler


        It truly sucks being a fan of this team. I am a diehard fan of many decades, who has supported this team unconditionally through mostly mediocre or worse performance. However, this was the year I needed to see some improvement, but what we have seen is unacceptable. I don’t know how MacT and they boys are going to rationalize this at the year end press conference. I do know that I am very slowly, but surely, starting to lose all hope for this organization. There must be thousands of life long and diehard fans that feel the same way. I would be very surprised if this team sells out games next year. Very surprised. The fans of this team owe MacT, KLowe, Bucky, Smith, Semenko any other ex-oiler cronies in the employ of this sad sack loser organization, nothing. Absolutely nothing.

  • Shopping list has been the same ever since Visnovsky was given away and souray was run out of town…

    Top veteran d man, top veteran centre who can teach these kids by showing them what to do.

    and still we wait…

  • D-Unit

    Just a thought….and let me be clear before I begin that I don’t think any of Oilers current mgmt team is particularly brilliant.

    That said, the Oilers are in a tough spot. Every GM in the league knows how bad we are, and how desperate we must be to improve. The current make-up of the team leaves very, very few truly trade-able assets to offer to other teams. The vast majority of our players (entire 3/4 lines, pretty much all dmen, all goalies) are the kind that other teams MIGHT see as fringe players at best. Certainly nothing worth trading for, let alone trading a solid NHL center/dman, etc. for.

    Given that, I do think MacT may be trying his best, but he’s finding that any trades at all in the next year or two are going to be very hard for the Oilers to break even on, let alone win. Other teams have little use for most of our players, and the players they would be interested in, we either can’t or wont get rid of.

    Gagner–never happening. Certainly not just before a NTC and contract starts. That’s a fool’s bet that he stops sucking. Hemmer–they’ll just wait until he walks from EDM to pick him up, no one wants him for a playoff run. Yak might be valuable, but given his tantrums earlier, his one-dimensional play, the risk of KHL bolting–won’t be as valuable as we’d really like. That leaves Ebs, RNH, and Hall. And two of the three we basically will not get rid of, no matter how bad things get.

    So how DO you make the kind of big trades needed to improve this team in the next 1-4 years, when you basically only have 1.5 tradeable players to use (Ebs & Yak)?

    • Spydyr

      Teams always look for defensive depth for the playoffs any of the eight 5-6 defencmen the Oilers have may be traded. Teams also look to have a veteran backup in goal if they are not sure of their starter ability of health both goalies are tradeable.

      Teams will be looking to take advantage of a rookie GM in a position of weakness.

      • Hate to break it to you, but very few of the Oilers d-men would be 5-6 on a team in the chase this year. That isn’t the kind of “depth” they want–and am 100% certain they wouldn’t give you a dman, center, or goalie back.

        Oilers dont need more picks and prospects, they need veteran roster players right now. Anyone in the chase isn’t giving those up, especially not for what the Oilers have to offer in return

  • Spydyr

    Do you think Justin Schultz wishes he had signes in Anaheim? What snow job did Lowe and company do to convince him to come here? I remember Dave Lumley saying the Oilers should have been on the phone after Sams eight point night .He is absolutely right. Too slow too timid .The Oilers have no vision, his trade value will be very low right now .However Sam if you need a ride to the airport call me.
    Also to all you Eakins haters, he was put in a very tough position. He had to keep the 3 stooges Smith Bucky and Chabot. Why couldn’t he bring in his own coaches? Lowe just threw him out to the wolves. The coach and players are in a serious world of hurt. Time for management to grow some gonads and do an intervention

      • S cottV

        The Ducks would have quickly figured out that Shultz needs to work on the defensive side of his game in the AHL.

        In fact they probably told him so to begin with and he bolted to a team dumb enough to play him from the get go.

  • As we all know, there are several aspects to managing an NHL hockey team.

    Player Procurement/Roster Construction

    Pro Scouting

    Amateur Scouting and Drafting

    Coaching Staff Selection

    Contract/Salary Cap Management

    Player Management and Development

    Minor League Affiliate Management

    I would guess I have missed some but I would think these are the heavy hitters. Now granted I am one disenchanted Oiler fan, but when I look at that list objectively I do not see one area where this management group has done a good job. They make questionable decisions almost every time there is one to make. Now someone could refute that statement, but the proof is on the ice, in their record. There is no disputing this team is really bad and has been for years. The management group, whoever is or has been in charge has run this franchise completely into the toilet. And the frustratingly perplexing part of the whole situation is the same people who have demonstrated no ability whatsoever to properly construct and manage an NHL team(they got lucky in 2006)are in charge of cleaning up their own mess. And I don’t buy that bold moves hasn’t had a chance. Every move he made in the summer has contibuted to this team being worse. Partial credit for Perron, but that is far outweighed by the Eakins fiasco alone. So we can talk Gagner trade, free agency, top two draft, trade deadline, whatever. Is it reasonable to believe this current management group is capable of doing anything to improve this hockey team in any meaningful way? Unfortunatley no. It is a perennial bottom feeder organization run by people who have essentially no idea what they are doing. Proof is in results.

  • JDP

    This organization is a joke. I can’t believe people still go and pay to watch a team lose every year. I was a fan of cogs. But even a inexperienced fellow like myself always thought that he was more of a winger than a centre. I’m happy for him and glad he was shipped away from this pathetic team. It’s pretty bad when a lonely pathetic American commentator goes off on the oilers. Pathetic!