Edmonton Oilers place Sam Gagner on waivers

Photo credit:Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Zach Laing
4 months ago
In case you heard something weird around the lunch hour Tuesday, it was the collective noise of Oilers fans around the world gulping at once.
That’s because days before the NHL’s trade deadline, the Edmonton Oilers placed Sam Gagner on waivers.
Drafted and developed by the club, Gagner has been in his third tour of duty with them this season. He’s struggled to crack the lineup, despite having a respectable five goals and 10 points in 27 games this season.
When he’s drawn into the lineup he’s been productive for the Oilers, helping drive play and outscore the opposition. When looking at his scoring rate, Gagner has been the Oilers fifth most productive forward, scoring 2.13 5v5 points per hour. That’s been a huge boost for the Oilers, who have struggled to get strong depth scoring from their third and fourth lines.
Yet, Kris Knoblauch hasn’t found a home for Gagner in the lineup, recently citing how the Oilers depth players all have specific roles, and Gagner has struggled to grasp one.
“He played really well tonight,” Knoblauch said after Sunday’s win over the Pittsburgh Penguins. “I know Sam’s line in three minutes of ice time in the first period, was probably apart of two scoring chances. He did a lot of good things. Derek was out tonight with an injury, he’s obviously very important for our team with being a right-hand faceoff guy winning key draws, start of the penalty kill.
“It’s tough. Not only do we have a lot of good hockey players, we also need to slot guys in on roles and position, and what we need at that moment. It’s difficult for Sam because he’s been playing really well for us, and we’ll evaluate tomorrow where he fits in, and how much he’ll be playing.”
Gagner has been down this road before with the Oilers, when during the 2019-20 season he ended up on waivers in October of that campaign. Months later, the Oilers would trade him to the Detroit Red Wings as part of the deal that brought Andreas Athanasiou to Edmonton that February.
Last offseason, Gagner underwent hip surgery and initially joined the Oilers on a professional tryout. It included a brief stint in the American Hockey League with the Bakersfield Condors, before signing an NHL contract.
Gagner is a pending unrestricted free agent carrying a $775,000 cap hit.

Zach Laing is the Nation Network’s news director and senior columnist. He can be followed on Twitter at @zjlaing, or reached by email at zach@thenationnetwork.com.

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