What Might a Sam Gagner Trade Look Like?


Consensus wisdom has it that the Edmonton Oilers and Sam Gagner will likely part ways this summer. If that does happen, what might that trade look like?

All About the Benjamins…


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Even in the summer, the dollars need to make sense, which means that one way or the other the Oilers will likely be taking salary back in any deal involving Gagner. That might mean retaining some salary in a deal that sees a lower-salaried player and/or draft picks come back the other way, or it might involve trading for some other team’s headache.

Who might fit that bill? Here are five possibilities:

Dustin Byfuglien, Winnipeg. The big defenceman/right wing has been a fixture in the rumour mill thanks to a lousy season with the Jets, and second line centre Olli Jokinen is a pending free agent. The problem here is that Byfuglien’s a better player than Gagner and with Mark Scheifele on the upswing the Jets very well might not be too worried about adding another scoring pivot.

David Clarkson, Toronto. We know the Oilers had interest in Clarkson, we know that things have gone poorly this year for the Leafs, and we know Toronto probably wants to bolster its centre depth chart. I’ve speculated about this previously, but right now I think that contract is just too toxic to take on – regardless of how the Leafs sweeten it.

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Tomas Kopecky, Florida. Gagner would bring some much-needed offence to Florida (he’d be tied for the Panthers’ scoring lead if he played there, despite the disastrous season he’s had) and Kopecky would add a big third-line body to the Oilers’ roster. If Florida were willing to sweeten the deal, this might be of interest.

Mike Ribeiro, Phoenix. A point-per-game player in 2013-14, Ribeiro has faded down the stretch in Phoenix and was recently a healthy scratch for the Coyotes. His contract is riskier than Gagner’s, but he’s also been a better player over his NHL career and he’d add a secondary offensive presence at centre Edmonton hasn’t had for a long time.

Viktor Stalberg, Nashville. Like Kopecky, Stalberg’s a big body who hasn’t lived up to his contract, and like Florida the Predators need offensive help.

There are others out there, but these nicely illustrate the player types. Good players on big contracts who have fallen out of favour, nightmare contracts, lesser players who need a change of scenery and other gambles.

The Problem

Craig MacTavish7

The trouble Craig MacTavish has is that his team is still desperately short of NHL players. He’s done a nice job of adding pieces to the mix, but he’s moved some guys who fit the bill (most recently Ales Hemsky) without bringing an NHL player back as part of the return.

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He may do it again with Gagner, but if at all possible he shouldn’t. Gagner has his problems and probably isn’t a good fit for the Oilers right now, but moving him out without bringing somebody back opens up one more hole in a roster that already looks far too much like Swiss cheese.


  • I would look at Buf in a heart beat and would gladly throw in a middling prospect.

    Draft Ekblad if he is available, if not Drasaital, Reinhart, or Bennett, in that order.

    Look for a strong 2 way centre, if one can’t be found the team would be stronger with Arcobello in that role than they are with Gagner anyway.

    I would use buf on Defence until Nurse is ready then I would move him back to the wing and you have the power forward we have been looking for.

    This would fix our D next year and it would look crazy in a few years.

    Byfuglien – Ekblad

    Marcinin – Petry

    Klefbom – Schultz

    Ference as your 7th

    • TKB2677

      I really like this plan outside of the idea that Buf is a big dollars contract, with no eventual place on the team. Anyone of Ekblad (assuming), Nurse, Klefbomb, J,Schultz, or Marincin could emerge as a powerhouse top pairing duo that would command some big money. In that event, then swinging Buf back to RW means demoting or trading one of Yak or Ebs. Not a terrible idea, but it’s a big gamble that Edmonton would get return on investment for either of those guys when the time comes to put Buf their.

      Not to mention, until that happens, our second line looks pretty poor. Perron, Arco, and Yak? That just isn’t going to get it done in the years to come. If when free agency hits, Edmonton can land either Stasny or Legwand, then I would do this trade. After that, I would look at trading Yak or Ebs a year down the line for whatever pieces are needed for that final push to be a contender, or for some serious future picks to ensure the tank doesn’t run dry.

      Perron, Stasny, Buf is a pretty scary second line. But that sounds like a bit of an armchair pipe dream.

      • Word to the Bird

        Ambition like that is what EDM needs to make the next step. The Oilers need to realize that fiddling with the 3rd and fourth lines won’t really do anything. We’ve gone over the problems so many times and mgmt just doesn’t seem to get it: big second line center and a top 2 defenseman.

        • vetinari

          Ambition is great as long as you’re not sacrificing smart team and cap management.

          I’ll follow this down the rabbit hole. Say we do get Buf, and say we do get either Stasny or Legwand, and even we trade Yak in next year’s off season so we don’t have to give him a pay raise, which is crazy because he will either emerge next year as a point producing RW, or he will be crap and have no trade value. But heck, say we trade him anyway.

          Then our top six will cost the team 27.1 million, plus whatever the overpay on either Stasny or Legwand is, 7 mill maybe? With both Perron and Bufflyin becoming UFA the very next year in 2016. And both will likely command a raise. Meaning in 2 years time, our top six would cost the team nearly 40 million in cap space.

          What kind of a team do you think the Oilers can build around that considering 14 positions would only have about 32 million in cap space? Oh, PS Scrivens also comes up for repayment in 2016, as will Marincin.

          Petry, J Schultz, and Klefbomb will all receive raises prior to 2016.

          And this is just me looking at cap geek, using hypothetical scenarios. I can’t imagine how much more infinitely complex being an actual GM is.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Can’t imagine another enigma like Byfuglien going over very well in Edmonton. Rather have Penner back.

    Byfuglien isn’t the kind of role model these kids need on that back end.

  • Word to the Bird

    JW, have you considered players facing another round of compliance buyouts this offseason? I bet some decent players will be bought out and be looking for cheap deals.

        • Ya, I can agree with Bryz and Lecavalier. Those two were great value. The only thing that was stopping bryz from playing good hockey was the philly media. he’s been great for both us and minny. as for Lecavelier… wtf was Stevey Y thinking? Do you think NYR will buy out Richards? there was a lot of talk about it this summer

          • Tampa has gotten some pretty exceptional play from some rather unknown names this year, which helped the departure of Lecaviallier. Not to mention it really looked like they were loading up to go after a big name goalie in free agency. I think they took Bishop as a back up and lucked out that he emerged the way he did.

            As for Richards, I don’t see how he doesn’t get bought out or traded. Even with the cap going up, NYR have some serious raises to dish out. Brassard, Pouliot, and especially Zuccarello are going to get bumps. After that, they have a ton of players in the line up that need to be resigned.

            They could trade St. Louis as well for picks which would free up some cap room. But starting next year, Lunqvuist, Girardi, McDonagh, Louis, Nash, and Richards combine for 38.7 million in cap space. Tough crunch to be in.

            If he does hit the market though, it might be good to give it a shot. He’s 33, will be overpaid, likely produce less as he gets older, and will look for a contract like he got with the Rangers, big money at long term.

  • vetinari

    I think it all comes down to the draft. If we take Ekblad, Gagner’s likely going to make it to July 1st and be here until at least the last year of his contract when his NTC ends. If we take Draistal or one of the other centres, then Gagner may be expendable, especially with Arcobello in the wings as a backup.

    Otherwise, I just can’t see Gagner getting moved until the last year of his contract. Right now, his value is at an all-time low and there is too much money and term left on his contract for most teams to take a chance on him. Of course, I didn’t expect Horcoff to get moved in the offseason with his contract but it did happen.

    • Edmonton has to make the playoffs next year. Putting a rookie in at 2C means we draft bottom 5. Gagner right now is better than Arco at mid season scoring-wise, which is the primary objective of the top two lines. He’ll be markedly better next year not having to sit out the beginning of the season and playing conservative to protect a weak jaw.

  • vetinari

    Not sure if anyone mentioned this… but I’m tired of the “Piss Hemsky away for nothing” statements.

    Hemsky was walking after this season. He will be an unrestricted free agent. So, not moving him for the 3rd AND 5th we got, would’ve been pissing him away for nothing. Instead we moved him to a team where he is succeeding for what we could get. This was an excellent move by MacT. Period. That’s a fact. If you can’t recognize that, then reply to this and tell me why it wasn’t a good move.

    Re: Gagner. In my opinion, Gagner needs a new home. He may go to a contender and be a different player than he is here in Edmonton ala Cogliano. He has a cushy 5 mil contract and he doesn’t need to back check to earn it. If he goes to another team and we eat part of his salary, he WILL have to back check or they’ll sit his butt. The short version: Gagner doesn’t fit here with Yak and Perron. Mac will move him I’m sure for something. If he doesn’t, Arcobello fits temporarily and is a defensive upgrade on Gagner. He’s also not afraid of round corners.

    Buf would be awesome for our team for a number of reasons. He’s probably a solid #3, possible #2 d man. BIG. Tough. Or he could slide in and be that big winger we need up front. He also has a wicked shot. Why would that make him awesome? Because depending on what we draft this year, he fills the “other hole”. Not to mention he single handedly helped Chicago win a cup by standing in front of Luongo.

    • 100% agree. If gagner is our 2nd line centre next year we are back in the lottery. I do believe if he is traded to a team in the East he could bring his game to a whole new level as long as he is playing with big players to do the heavy lifting for him.He seems to have been a little better as of late so lets hope someone is noticing. I am surprised how some people really believe that we should keep him.. This is a mistake..He has run out of time here..Also agree on Hemmer..Mact maxed out what he could get for the UFA..

  • vetinari

    I wonder what it would take to go after an emerging guy like Bonino from the Ducks or Smith from Nashville. Bonino in particular though the asking price would be high I’m sure.

  • ChillyPepper

    I know I’m in the minority here, but shouldn’t we think twice about trading Sam Gagner? The Oilers are woefully short of quality NHL players with great attitudes. It’s true that Gagner is a bit too small to be an effective 2nd line centre, but who cares?

    Why is it always necessary to banish any player that doesn’t grow into the exact position on the roster depth chart that he was initially projected to? This Gagner situation reminds me of the Cogliano situation. We traded him away because he was small and wasn’t a true top 6 forward. But why is that a problem exactly?

    I think trading Cogliano was a huge mistake, and not because is playing so well as an Anaheim Duck, but because he possibly the fastest player in the NHL, works his ass off and is excellent on the defensive side of the puck. I think he is exactly the kind of player the Oilers need right now.

    The Oilers clearly need bigger forwards and a competent d-corps, but if trading Gagner isn’t going to address one of those issues then why trade him? His cap hit is a bit much, but I think he’s worth it when he makes it through training camp without sustaining a devastating injury.

    The point is, the Oilers organization and the fans have fallen into this weird pattern of drafting players and trading them because isn’t the perfect player. Personally, I think Gagner has a lot more to offer as a player than as trade bait.

    • John Chambers

      Hey Tim..you are in the minority here no doubt as Gagner has caused me to have fits at the tv at times. He is just not the right fit for his position. Now if MacT decides to keep him and He might as he is good in the room..Then he better move him to third line rt wing.. but..that is an expensive contract for that position..Just hope he gets moved..

    • ^ THIS.

      Unfortunately Gagner makes too much money, has a WAY too hot girlfriend, doesn’t crush guys in the corners and probably drives a Cayenne Turbo or Panamera Turbo* instead of a F-150. Thus he is totally unsuited to be a fan favorite in lunchpail Edmonton.

      He wasn’t drafted for his defensive acumen and contrary to what alot of guys say, goals and assists are at least as important to winning games as a good solid body check or a 55% FO average.

      The only real mistake he made was accepting that $4.8M contract (despite being paid league average for a 2LC coming off a 65 point/82 equivalent year).

      *Hall drives a Panamera Turbo BTW.

    • crabman

      Cogliano didn’t become a different style player overnight. The Ducks taught him to play that way. I don’t know if it’s because Ganger can’t learn to play defense or if it’s the Oilers that can’t teach defense but there has been no improvement in that part of his game over the past 7 years. I haven’t seen anything this year that suggests to me that next year will be any different for him.

  • Gagner + prospect + pick for Ehrhoff. That solves one problem. Then try to sign Legwand or Stastny. Pretty sure Legwand will re-sign with Det tho. And Stastny will probably either stay in Col or sign with a US team.
    We can try Arco or Lander for the first part of the season and see how they do…. Look for a trade if that doesn’t work.

    • That is nowhere near enough to get Myers. That sure would solve a big hole for us though. With Gagner, again… if he is retained because of the injury he still needs to be surrounded by bigger players. For me though I was hoping they would have moved him last summer before the contract and the injury.

      • ghostofberanek

        Myers term is a killer contract… Hockey News reported that Buffalo might buy out the Myers contract. That point with all the young dman, Erfoff (sp) and getting Ference back.

        Maybe there is enough to start the conversation?

  • Absolutely none of the players you mentioned JW, seems like a good fit….big Buf might seem a little interesting, but he too would not make it past Eakins sawdust & kenaoia donuts.

    There have to be better options out there, please do not mention the talentless Clarkson again……….we just got rid of Horcough!

  • DieHard

    Speaking of Ribeiro, Mike broke into the NHL at an older age and didn’t produce as well as Sam has earlier in their careers. But there are many similarities here too. Both earn roughly $5 mill per year. Despite their offensive production, both have been criticized for being small and lacking physicality. Interesting comparable, I think.

    When Montreal traded Ribeiro, it was Mike plus 6th rd pick for Janne Niinimaa and a 5th rd pick. I don’t think Janne was quite the player he was by this time in his career. But I don’t think Montreal was interested in keeping Ribeiro either so they got something for him.

    So, that’s the scenario I see. A guy that brings good 2nd centre offensive production that is cheap to acquire via trade.

  • ghostofberanek

    I’m on board for Byfuglien or Ribiero given its not too much more than just Gagner. However I think selling Gagner now is a very bad idea. Never sell so low!

    Just looked back at his season and aside from some bad percentages he could have ~65 points this season.

    Also looking back at his career since 2008 I strongly feel the Oilers terrible defence corps has a lot to do with his poor CF%. I broke the D down to 5 groups, (top 3 pairs, press box guys, call-ups). Top pairing guys Gagner has only played with ~19% of his TOI but posted a 51% CF with them (Visnovsky/Souray/Gilbert). Second pair guys ….sorta(Petry/Staios/Smid/Marincin) he played with ~28% of the time and posted ~47% CF. That leaves ~50% of his ice time with 3rd pairing/press box guys where he posted ~46% CF%.

    This season he’s spent 28% with a decent second pairing of Petry/Marincin (48% CF%) and 70% with 3rd pair/press box guys. (~42% CF).

    The Oilers D has been awful basically Gagner’s entire career. He will flourish once playing for a real NHL team instead of this pack of skids. Look at Cogliano as an example.

      • Craig1981

        I Agree with him so I’ll take a crack at it.
        Arcobello > Gagner in almost every statistical category.
        Arco proj. 82g= 36 points
        Gags actual = 36 points
        sure Sam missed 14 games but he played EVERY shift on the second line with offensive players. Arco played up and down the lineup with grinders… and he’s a rookie so obviously we would expect his numbers to get better.
        Gags point/60 =1.50
        Arco p/60=1.84
        =/-, fenwick, corsi, face-offs, HITS, whatever… look them up. Arco is a rookie and he plays 200 feet better than Gags. period. He doesn’t play small, was leading the team in hits earlier in the year. add the fact that his contract is 4 MILLION dollars cheaper. Arco might not be a long term solution but he is better than keeping Sam for another losing season.
        And to be honest, I like Sam. This organization rushed him along and ruined him. We have a better option tho

        • Fair point about the statistical argument, but I think the sample size is too small to be saying he is as good an NHL player as Gagner is. Sam has had a bad season, but I’m guessing that has something to do with the broken jaw that derailed his season. He rushed back and never really got back up to speed. He has looked uncomfortable all season long. His big problem is every other year he has one of these huge injuries during, or right after, training camp. His cap hit is not ideal, but I think it’s fair to assume that 2012-13 is a more accurate reflection of the real Sam Gagner than the 2013-14 edition.

          I agree, he was rushed into the NHL, but I think it’s a stretch to say he is ruined. I would rather keep him and see what next year holds than trade him for a bag of pucks just to see him thrive.

          • Randaman

            So let him thrive in Buffalo or Nashville. Who cares? This team needs to make some hard decisions and moving Gagner is the correct decision no matter the return

          • crabman

            No matter the return? The Oilers can’t afford to be so nonchalant about trading assets (they suck). I would be all for trading Gagner if the return would fill any holes on this hockey team, but right now we’ll get nothing for him. The fact is Gagner is an NHL veteran on a team that sorely needs NHL veterans. Shipping him out and slotting Arcobello in in his place is bonkers. Acrobello has played 42 NHL games. Making this team more inexperienced just seems counterproductive.

  • Craig1981

    Trade Horcoff, he is overpaid, that’s will fix the team. Trade Hemsky he doesn’t try and is a liability on d, that will fix stuff. Penner needs to go, he doesn’t “play big”, thats what the team needs to fix itself.

    …….and here we are with Gagner.

  • Craig1981

    Question? Are not compliance buyouts limited to 2 per team and were only a one time only deal between the NHLPA and the NHL? Once a team used up their compliance buyouts that was it.No more. I believe we have one left. I thought we used one on Belanger. Find me where compliance buyouts are now every year. I know that you can buyout players but you have to retain a portion of the salary against your cap. And the amount is related to the age of the player I think.

    Could someone clarify this for me.

  • The idea of buy-low sell-high is an oversimplification of personnel management. This is a hockey team, not a day trader’s stock portfolio!

    By the logic of only selling a player when his value is high, MacT should trade away Hall, Marincin and Scrivens this summer. And to buy low, he should make all of his acquisitions through waivers and by signing college free agents. Imagine all of the draft picks, prospects, cap space and slumping players that this team could accumulate for its diversified portfolio.

    Building a winning hockey team is more complicated than that. If Gagner is dealt for nickels on the dollar, then fine. This team clearly needs to change its mix of players and holding on to them just because they might turn it around next year is not a valid reason to keep the wrong mix.

  • CMG30

    If moving Gagner doesn’t fill a hole equivalent to a 2C then don’t make the move. We don’t need to take 10 cents on the dollar worth of picks and prospects.

    • Randaman

      You can’t look at it that way. What we actually get when we trade Gagner will be spot for Arcobello/Lander/draft pick to play, 4.2 million dollars(gagner’s salary minus arcobello’s) to shop for a free agent, PLUS whatever bag of pucks we get back for him. Getting rid of Gagner is more about how it improves the team…. not what the return in trade looks like. Mike Gillis couldn’t figure that out about Loungo’s contract until it was too late. If we can find a home for Sam it helps the team. and we’ll get a bag of pucks

  • ChillyPepper

    And next year, when Gagner is gone and the team still doesn’t make playoffs; and they are still battling for the bottom of the league… it will be another player who receives all the negativity and blame. After 8 years of people complaining about the upper staff and coaches, they still want to put the blame on a single player. Send Gagner off, and watch him excel at the game. When that happens, will people FINALLY stop blaming him for the travesty that is this team? Probably not.

    You do not have a lot of control over things in your life, but you can control where you spend your money. The more people who spend their money on the Oilers, the less likely the owner is going to be to change the dynamics of the team. Why? Because it’s a business. And while the product is terrible, people keep lining up to purchase it.

    You call yourself fans; Katz calls you dollar bills.