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Edmonton Oilers sign Sam Gagner to professional tryout

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Photo credit:Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Zach Laing
9 months ago
The Edmonton Oilers have signed forward Sam Gagner to a professional tryout.
The club announced Monday morning they would be bringing the 34-year-old to camp, as well as Brandon Sutter. News of Sutter attending camp came out weeks ago.
Gagner is well known in Edmonton having been drafted by the club sixth overall in the 2007 draft. He broke into the NHL immediately spending the first seven years of his career in Edmonton before a 2014 trade sent him to the Arizona Coyotes.
Since then, Gagner has been a journeyman playing for the Philadelphia Flyers, their AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley Phantoms, the Columbus Blue Jackets, Vancouver Canucks, the Toronto Maple Leafs’ AHL affiliate Toronto Marlies, the Oilers again, the AHL’s Bakersfield Condors, the Detroit Red Wings and most recently, the Winnipeg Jets. Yeah, he’s been a few places. Through it all, Gagner has carved out an excellent pro career as a depth player.
His most recent season with the Jets saw him score eight goals and 14 points in 48 games, while the year prior in Detroit saw him score 13 goals and 31 points in 81 games. This past offseason Gagner underwent hip surgery, but is expected to make a full recovery.
His arrival in Oilers threads for a potential third stint is one fans had been pushing for all offseason, and it makes sense as to why. A lot of it has to do with the fact that Gagner was a player fans clung to in the late 2000s. It’s important to remember that those first two years out of the 2006 cup run were lean. A plethora of names including stars like Chris Pronger and Ryan Smyth left town for one reason or another, and Gagner’s arrival in Edmonton helped spark hope for the future and that the team could once again get back to the playoffs. Unfortunately, that’s something that hasn’t happened — at least yet.
The truth of it all is that the Oilers are likely to sign another depth forward for their lineup, and Gagner makes a ton of sense to be the Oilers’ 13th forward.
This past year with the Jets he demonstrated that he’s still got it.
At 5×5 with Gagner on the ice, the Jets controlled 52.69 percent of the shot attempt share, 50.93 percent of the scoring chances, and 51.75 percent of the expected goal share. While outscored 19-17, Gagner had a low on-ice shooting percentage and a PDO of 98.4 suggesting those goal numbers would improve over a larger sample. On top of that, there were times last season when he slid up the Jets’ lineup into the top-six and was able to produce.
There were six games last season when Gagner played over 17 minutes with the Jets and in those, he scored three assists taking 14 shots on goal. He averaged 18:07 per night, with the Jets going 4-2 in the games.
At this point there’s nothing to indicate he’s lost a step in the NHL, and the truth of the matter is that if he were to serve as the 13th forward, he fits the bill perfectly. He knows a plethora of players on this team including the core group, and has always been know as a team player.
There’s another element that adds to Gagner joining the team making a ton of sense. He, in theory, could do what Wayne Simmonds did in Toronto essentially telling other teams “I’m not going to play for you,” when he was utilized as a paper transaction on the waiver wire three times last season.
We’ll see what the coming weeks bring and how Gagner looks in training camp, but it’s hard to imagine a situation where he doesn’t ink a one-year, league-minimum deal with the club.

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@oilersnation.com.

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