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…


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.

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.

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.


  • 1979

    JW I have to make exception to the remark regarding Byfuglien’s so called “lousy” season. In fact he’s had a rather good one putting up numbers ( 20G- 36A-56P) on a mediocre team. And this while playing half a season on defense. According to ESPN his season is now over with an upper body tear. If MacT can finagle him over to our roster, I’m all for it because that guy is exactly what’s needed with the versatility of a defender and winger.

    • Craig1981

      Touche. Mr Dithers record though clearly shows that the majority of his moves were made during free agency. His reign will be forever remembered as as one that lacked trades. Hence the moniker Mr Dithers.

      MacT thankfully is not as dithering.

  • Hemmercules

    If Mact could add all 5 of those guys I probably wouldn’t complain, not so much Clarkson but any tough veteran is probably welcome here if it fits in the cap. Experienced players with size and likely something to prove after a no-so-great season, worth the gamble in my opinion.

    I haven’t been an Eakins supporter but after reading that Hall interview I think they need to keep Eakins and the core of this team together. No more flushing half the team and changing coaches. At least let Eakins pick his own assistant coaches though, how Bucky survives every coaching purge I will never know.

      • ghostofberanek

        Oh ok, let’s, as a last place team, send out one of our precious few NHL players for a fourth round pick then. Just because he didn’t meet the fans expectations of him.

        I can’t stand how the fans jump on a player with a mob mentality. There’s no bloody way he can’t learn a different role with the team.

        • crabman

          It’s not like they haven’t been trying to get him to play defense for the past 7 years. What makes you think moving him to the 3rd line wing and asking him to play defense would possibly work?

        • Well I certainly have not advocated trading Gags for a 4th round pick, or anything else for that matter. Although trying to do something with him has to be one of Mact’s priorities this summer, he should only make a move if it helps the team now or in the future. Gags might be this summer’s Hemsky.

          My point was that it doesn’t make sense to assume that a player can be reinvented. If it were that easy, the Oil wouldn’t have to make any moves this summer, just get all the players to play better.

    • Spydyr

      “Keep him, turn him into a third line checking winger.”

      That made me grunt out loud.Is there some magic pill he takes for this to happen?Have you ever see him “try” to play defence?

      • ghostofberanek

        Bah, all of your comments have that effect on me.

        You were likely calling for Cogs head back in the day too. A wingers defensive responsibilities are far less than a centers, and he’s got a touch of offensive punch that we could use deeper down the lineup. He’s an NHL player that, once again, fans are running out of town.

  • 1979

    In this same vein…

    Oilers moves this summer:

    1.Bring in 2 3rd line wingers, with at least one having 2nd line ability at times.

    2. Either find a suitable replacement or keep Gagner.

    3. Find a veteran #6 option on defense. Marincin, Petry, Klefbom, Schultz, & Ference will all be back for 1 – 5the and likely 7 & 8 will be one of the internal options.

    This isn’t necessarily what I would do, but listening to what is coming from Stauffer etc… I think this is what they will do.

  • TKB2677

    JW. While I agree that Mac T can’t keep moving “NHL” players for picks and prospects but I pose this question to you.

    If the supposed “NHL” players like Gagner and previously Hemsky are players thats

    #1 Aren’t being productive in the positions they are occupying.
    #2 Aren’t the right fit for the roles they are occupying.
    #3 The Oilers with them in those positions aren’t winning.
    #4 Picks and prospects are the only thing you can get for them.

    What is Gagner? A small, supposedly offensive center that can’t play any sort of defensive, is poor on faceoffs and his one dimension – offense- is arguably mediocre. He’s never scored 20 goals or over 50 pts in 7 seasons. This year his worst season to date, he will score 10 goals and not even 40 pts. For a guy that only brings offense, those are brutal stats. When he doesn’t score any points, he brings NOTHING to your team of value in any other areas. The team down the highway has a 1st year KID that has more 20 goal seasons than Gagner. How embarrassing is that!!

    Other than be a live body, how does it do the Oilers any good to hold on to him especially at his price point? Is it not time that the Oilers put players on the ice with a role and help them win? So if he doesn’t do a lot in the way of helping your team win and brings little to your team other than be a good guy and fill out the roster card, what good is he? I 100% hate the fact that the Oilers will be “selling low” but I hate the idea even more of the Oilers continually holding on to guys that aren’t helping them win or be better. If you keep holding on to these guys in the hopes that they either develop more or by some miracle, play better so they are worth more, the losing will never stop.

    • Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)

      It’s called compounding your mistake. The Oilers made a mistake when they signed a Gagner to a $4.8 million contract. You can keep him here thereby compounding your mistake……or you can cut bait……as Willis suggests, pay a hefty portion of his contract (1.5 to 2 million) and get a useful roster player back in return.

      You made a mistake, there are consequences, pay the piper and move on!

      In some ways the Oilers could consider themselves lucky that there’s only two years remaining on the contract….the mistake will only cost 3 or 4 million total.

      • Actually, I’m suggesting these trades to avoid picking up a hefty portion of Gagner’s salary. Lots of teams have meh-to-bad contracts, so the idea here is to move a poor contract who is a bad fit for the team (Gagner) for a poor contract who is a better fit (Stalberg, for example).

      • TKB2677

        1 GAME!!! That’s all it takes for you is 1 game? That tying goal was a stupid play by Greiss and Gagner was just standing there to put it into the net.

        He’s got 10 freaking goals and 36 points. He’s -28 and is 46.5% on faceoffs. He makes 4.8 MILLION DOLLARS. That’s good enough for you because he tapped in a tying goal and made a nice move in the shoot out in ONE GAME?

        I left out this seasons stats because it’s not done yet but in the previous 6 seasons, he averages 15 goals!! In 4 out of the 6 seasons he’s scored 16, 15, 15, 14. Guess what the average is there. 15!!! Guess how many goals Gagner scored next season based on the odds? 15!!!! IS 15 goals for a second line center making 4.8 mill good enough for you? If you add this seasons 10 goals, guess what, his average DROPS even more.

        Again I didn’t add in this seasons points because it’s not over. But in 6 seasons, he averages 43 pts. Is 43pts for a second line center making 4.8 mill good enough for you?

        I’m not basing my opinion of Gagner on 1 season. I’m basing it on in in a little over a week, 7 NHL seasons!!! Gagner may be “young” in age but in little over a week he will have played 482 NHL GAMES. HE’S A VETERAN!! Successful teams don’t have 7 year NHL veteran second line centers that score 15 goals, 43pts, are below 50% on faceoffs and after 482 games in the NHL still can’t play any sort of defense. Plus on top of it think they are worth 4.8 million dollars. Sorry dude, THOSE ARE FACTS!!

        I like Gagner as a person but as the Oilers second line center, he’s not even close to good enough. I never liked Cogliano and I thought the Oilers made the right choice by keeping Gagner over Cogliano at the time. Cogliano has reinvented himself with the Ducks as a damn good 3rd line winger. Cogliano has 21 goals and 40 pts and makes 3 mill. Gagner right now couldn’t hold Cogliano’s jock and according to his salary, Gagner is supposed to be 1.8 mill per season better than Cogliano.

      • oilerjed

        That would depend on whether or not he had anything to do with the Oilers needing to come back in the first place. Refresh my memory someone, how many gagner turnovers ended up back in our own net. Not sure how many times I watched Sam coasting in our end locked on to the puck carrier who, who was already covered, and having Perry floating around in the slot and without nary a glance. I have supported Gags for years thinking he would come around. He hasnt, and doesnt look to be making any strides to progress his game.
        Sorry Sam but so long. And Im not overly concerned with what return we get.

  • 1979

    Good article! Trading Gagner will be difficult to manage unless they can bring another center back to replace him or draft Reinhart. Personally I think they are hoping to move Gordon and Hendricks to the 4th line with Gazdic/Smyth/Joensuu/???

    Then they will try to sign or trade for a couple of 3rd line wingers (like Winnik and Kulimin) to play with Arcobello.

    Therefore, I think the Gagner trade depends on the draft, finding a trade with a replacement centre coming back or if he is willing to waive his no trade after the Oilers have secured a replacement in free agency.

  • oilerjed

    This is not a trade that is going to happen unless another second line center is already signed and or traded for.

    The Oilers will get ten cents on the dollar for Gagner. Not in my lifetime have I seen any GM piss away an asset for so little return.

    The trade scenarios are all speculation. The most telling fact is that the Oilers do not have another center who can fill that roll. Till they do Gagner stays in Oilers silks.