If Available, Pursuing Sam Gagner Would Make Sense For Blackhawks

By Randy Holt

As we await the big dogs of the current trade market to find new homes, there are a few names out there that the Chicago Blackhawks could end up considering, now that the few attractive free agents have found new homes.

One of those names is Sam Gagner, who is a name that has been connected to the Blackhawks more than once over the past couple of seasons. In need of a second line center, Gagner could end up being a good fit and would come without the cost of some of the other names out on the market.

Though he’s just 22, Gagner has already been in the league for five full seasons. He had the best season of his career last year as far as goal scoring is concerned, with 18, falling just two points shy of his career point mark of 49 on the year.

Of course, fans of the Blackhawks will immediately recognized Gagner for the smackdown he laid on the Hawks last season, posting eight points in an 8-4 drubbing of the Hawks.

As much young talent as there is on the forward lines for this Edmonton Oilers team, Gagner is a guy who just doesn’t seem to fit like the rest might. Much of that could be due to his development, or lack of, since his game hasn’t become as well rounded as many hoped it would five seasons in.

However, he’s just 22 and still has room to grow. His status with the Oilers is as up in the air as it’s ever been, and the Blackhawks could be ready to take him off their hands.

Gagner is a restricted free agent and set to go to arbitration with the Oilers. There are a couple of different avenues Edmonton could choose to go with Gagner, even before his hearing. They could attempt to lock him up on a new deal, trade him, or take him to arbitration and watch the relations with Gagner get really awkward, as arbitration hearings tend to make things.

If the Oilers choose to go the trade route, the Blackhawks could be among the first in line to attempt to acquire him. Perhaps making Gagner and Niklas Hjalmarsson the centerpieces of the deal could make sense, since the Oilers need help on the blue line and Hjalmarsson’s $3.5 million cap hit suddenly makes a lot more sense when you consider what some d-men have pulled down this summer.

Though the arbitration hearings are set to begin at the end of the month, I’d expect we’ll have an idea of Gagner’s fate in Edmonton very soon. And if it’s one that makes him available, he could be a good fit with the Chicago Blackhawks and old London Knights teammate Patrick Kane.

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