Sun. May 26th, 2024

After a professional tryout (PTO) and a short stint with the Bakersfield Condors of the AHL, Sam Gagner is once again an Edmonton Oiler. The 34-year-old veteran is coming off a season with the Winnipeg Jets in which he played 48 games and contributed eight goals and 14 points. He did not appear in the team’s first-round loss to eventual Stanley Cup Champions, the Las Vegas Golden Knights. The deal comes on the heels of the Oilers waiving Adam Erne and is a one-year, two-way contract worth $775,000.

The deal secures Gagner another year in the NHL, even if it is in a diminished role. With over 1000 games of league service, he can still contribute where needed.

Gagner’s Fit with the Oilers

At this stage in Gagner’s career, he is likely a bottom-six forward who will be an asset mostly for his leadership. He can still contribute offensively, as we saw during his stint with the Detroit Red Wings, but it isn’t likely he will log heavy power-play minutes or even penalty-kill time. Though Winnipeg did use him with the man advantage, they did not use him shorthanded all season.

Sam Gagner with the Winnipeg Jets (Photo by Jonathan Kozub/NHLI via Getty Images)

Gagner has never been strong on faceoffs, but he will chip in with his puck movement. He is a depth guy at this point and, as I said, here for leadership. He still has good hustle and can move the puck, but don’t expect him to put numbers up on the board.

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While playing in Winnipeg, he was a supplemental player, adding depth to a team loaded with talent up front with the likes of Blake Wheeler, Mark Scheifele, and Kyle Connor, which meant limited power-play time for Gagner. He managed only a goal and two assists with the man advantage last season.

This continues a trend even before his days in Detroit or his second stint with the Oilers. His last season with any significant power-play production was in 2017-18 with the Vancouver Canucks. He can still contribute, but don’t expect to see him called on very often.

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Likewise with penalty killing, Gagner did not see ice time shorthanded last season. And his one shorthanded goal with the Red Wings in 2021-22, his first such goal since he was a pup with the Oilers in 2010-11, almost looks like a misprint.

Final Thoughts on Oilers Signing Gagner

Through six games, Erne failed to produce much for the 2-5-1 Oilers, whose struggles out the gate have landed them in sixth place in the Pacific Division. In six games, Erne managed only five shots, registered a minus-one rating, and averaged only 8:19 minutes of ice time. Despite Gagner’s age, he would still be considered an upgrade from Erne.

In his three games in the Condors, Gagner has scored a goal and assisted on four others. His five points were good enough to rank him second on the team, and he showed that he still has some jump. Though he won’t be called on to carry any of the heavy lifting, he ought to be a good supplemental player, providing character and leadership to a team that could use some help finding itself after its early season stumbles.

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