Yesterday’s news that Sam Gagner’s name is ‘out there’ means Craig MacTavish is going to make some big changes in the next seven months, and I suspect those changes will go higher up the depth chart than Gagner.
Consider Gagner’s value at this time.
- Boxcars: 31, 5-9-14
- Corsi for 5×5 %: 45.4%
- PDO: 94.1%
- last 10 games: 2-1-3
- faceoff percentage: 45.3%
- 5×5 points per 60: 1.30
- pp points per 60: 2.27
- GF-GA On ice 5×5: 13-28 (GF % 5×5: 31.7%)
- Shooting percentage: 8.2
This is from extra skater. Gagner’s boxcars after 31 games in a ‘normal’ season would be about 7-13-20 based on his career numbers before this season. Among the things we can see that are below par for this season are PDO, performance in his last 10 games, 5×5/60, pp points/60, GF% and shooting percentage. That’s like a murderer’s row of bad performance combined with bad luck. If his PDO were at 100, if his shooting percentage at 10%, and of course if Kassian hadn’t done the nasty business, we wouldn’t be having a conversation about not being able to get full value for Gagner.
Now we are. No doubt. We all know about his defensive troubles, but we also know Gagner is more about the wood (offense) than the leather (defense) to borrow a baseball term from the olden days. Gagner’s being under par at the things we know he’s good at mean trading him for full value is not possible. The wise man keeps his powder dry in this situation.
WHAT CAN YOU GET FOR GAGNER?
The last two times MacT has gone to market in an effort to dump a contract he has received:
- Phil Larsen and a 7th round pick in 2525
- Laurent Brossoit and Roman Horak
For two NHL regulars, one of which has many miles of track to go before he retires (Smid). If I were to hazard a guess about what the Oilers might get in return, the price tag (by city) might be:
- NYI: they’ll want to move Grabner, Oilers would probably ask after Josh Bailey. I don’t know there’s a match there.
- TOR: all kinds of options here, the Leafs are tiring of Kadri and I’ve always liked him. One idea that might work for the Oilers is David Clarkson. I’m just saying. A signed Kulemin would be a very sexy return in this less than ideal situation.
- CHI: I think there’s a chance he ends up in Chicago, and someone like Bryan Bickell or Kris Versteeg coming the other way.
Oilers aren’t going to get 100 cents on the dollar for Gagner, so may have to include a pick or prospect in return. Prepare to be underwhelmed in a “I thought they’d get more for Smid” kind of way.WHO ELSE IS GOING?
From what we know, Gagner is part of the ‘inner circle’ of players that includes Hall and Eberle. This is conjecture, and I don’t want to go too far down that road but we can state with authority that as recently as last summer (when MacT said glowing things and signed 89 to a contract that included a verbal no-trade) everything was solid as a rock.
Things change, and they may have changed for everyone.
I have, until this point, firmly believed the Oilers brass had an inner circle of players considered off limits. The names on that list (I assumed) were Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Nail Yakupov, Jordan Eberle and Justin Schultz.
I am no longer convinced all of those names are on the list. Who will they trade? One assumes Hall and Nugent-Hopkins are still off limits, to borrow an oft-used line from the Eagles they can check out any time they like but they can never leave.
After that? Gagner, Yakupov, Eberle, Schultz might be in play. I honestly question the wisdom of trading Nail Yakupov, and suspect it’s a major mistake to deal any of these young men. That said, I imagine the pressure on Craig MacTavish to improve this team is incredible, and further suspect the organization’s collective eyes are becoming more and more attracted to youngsters Sam Reinhart and Aaron Ekblad.
A new shiny shinny coin is on the horizon, and yesterday’s papers may be cleared away before August 1st. I bet you Gagner isn’t the only one, and the chances Edmonton gets paid in full are not great. Dealing from weakness is a bad way, and trading that first round draft pick in 2014 is the right call. Stand as you are, no more youth, turn this wagon train north starting now.
And yet, the news on the wire is “Gagner is out there” and that could mean more rebuilding.
The Oilers may be thinking of a massive overhaul of the NHL roster, with a mind to keeping the pick and spending it on Ekblad. If that is the case, we are Groundhog Day. The Never Ending Story lives here.