Sam Gagner smashed the hopes and dreams of Oilers fans all over when he chose to sign with the Winnipeg Jets on a one-year, league-minimum deal on Friday.
While the Oilers may not have been able to guarantee the playing time the Jets have, whose to say Gagner couldn’t be an Oiler at the deadline?
Edmonton will no doubt be a playoff team once again this year and its time for Gagner to come home. For all the same arguments that the Oilers should’ve signed him this offseason can apply to why he should be a top trade deadline target.
The Oilers likely won’t be looking to acquire everyday NHL players for the bottom-six, see the Derick Brassard trade from last year, but they will be looking for players who can step into the lineup in a pinch, and guys that are “good veterans.” Sam Gagner fits the bill for both.
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He played in 81 games last year with the Detroit Red Wings scoring 13 goals and 31 points in what was one of his more productive seasons in recent years. He played just 13:37 TOI per game last year, but his on-ice results weren’t all that great. At 5×5 with Gagner on the ice, the Red Wings controlled 46.25 percent of the shot attempts, 45.21 percent of the goals and 45.11 percent of the expected goal share.
Despite that, his isolated impact charts show a still effective player. Offensively, he contributed at a four percent rate above league average while defensively, at a one percent rate below league average. His strength continues to lie in his ability to set teammates up, something he does at a three percent rate above league average, according to HockeyViz.com.
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The cost will be relatively low, too. Would a 2024 4th round pick be able to get it done?
Nonetheless, there’s still more than enough time for the Oilers to bring Gagner home for a playoff run.

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 [email protected]