Thursday, July 19, 2012

Sam Gagner and The Arbitration Case

Last year my cohort, Heazues, posted the thoughts of Sam Gagner here. In it, he runsdown the thoughts of keeping Hemsky and selling off Gagner. This time last year, I was of an opposite view. I was in favour selling off Hemsky and keeping Gagner. Now that the Oilers have decided on keeping Hemsky around for a couple of years, it means that I feel its Sam Gagner's time to move along. The Oilers need some shooting, two-way centers to go along with their playmaking wingers. Hemsky needs one for sure, and I don't feel Gagner is that player. Initially, I had them battling for the 2nd line RW spot, essentially they are the same player but one happens to be a more speedy, experienced version of the other. Besides the Oilers could use some bigger forwards that impose their will in the top 6.

All of this brings me to the current situation of Sam Gagner. Gagner is due for arbitraton tomorrow. Oilers are stuck in no man's land when it comes to Gagner. They will end up overpaying him, all while trying to find a spot for him that will benefit the Oilers as a whole. Plug and playing him as the 2nd line C is not the answer the Oilers are looking for. The Oilers need to start shoring up weaknesses on the club and start showing the fanbase they are serious about getting better. Sam Gagner is that player they should look to improve upon. At best, Sam Gagner is nothing more than Ryan Nugent-Hopkins insurance in case he goes down to injury. Gagner had quite the run this past year when The Nuge was on the shelf.

I think the best they can hope for from the Sam Gagner case, is to get a 1 yr deal at around 3.5 mil and continue to try and peddle him. Giving him a long term deal makes no sense, walking away from him makes even less sense. Giving him a 1 yr deal, has him remain as an RFA next season, under the current CBA. The Oilers need to trade one of Sam Gagner or Ales Hemsky to allow the one that stays the 2nd line RW spot.

As for addressing the 2nd line C spot, I would look at giving Jason Arnott a deal if he is willing or giving Jordan Eberle a shot at it. Oilers need hockey smart centermen to allow the wingers to fly. Without it, the Oilers will end up chasing the puck a lot of nights. I wanted Jason Arnott last year, but the Oilers decided on Eric Belanger instead.

I'm very intrigued to see what the Oilers management do in this situation. Do they go the path of least resistance and give Gagner what he wants, or do they get creative and find a taker for him that makes sense?

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