New Detroit Red Wings contract means no Sam Gagner for Edmonton Oilers

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My take

  1. If you’re an Oilers fan, it’s hard not to feel a moment of loss with this signing. We watched as Gagner went from much-hyped prospect, whom almost all of us thought would turn into an NHL star, to a struggling forward with iffy defensive fundamentals, from an NHL journeyman to a stalwart role player with an impressive work ethic. In his last stint here, he won converts with his hustle, determination and skill.
  2. Gagner was moved out when the Oilers acquired Mike Green from Detroit, mainly because Edmonton needed the cap space. After Edmonton lost to Chicago in the playoffs, with Green opting out of the return to play for family and health reasons, many fans wondered if a veteran like Gagner might not have helped Edmonton’s playoff run.
  3. Gagner put up 12 points in 36 games for the Oilers this year. He was an OK-ish two-way winger on an OK-ish two-way hockey team. He lacked the high-level skill to fit in on a top line with Connor McDavid or Leon Draisaitl, but he was somewhat effective in a bottom line role.
  4. Many fans also hoped Gagner would come back to Edmonton for the coming year, but the fact is Edmonton is heavy with forwards, and a new contract may well be coming for Jesse Puljujarvi at a similar amount to what Gagner just got. I like Gagner, as well, but right now I’ll take Puljujarvi over him every day of every year. Tyler Ennis is also an option, as are young Tyler Benson, Cooper Marody, Joakim Nygard, Gaetan Haas and others. It was time to say good-bye to Gagner, but a fond farewell.

At the Cult

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