The Edmonton Oilers are a team that could be headed for a bit of a shakeup this summer. After another disappointing season, despite higher than usual expectations, the new front office regime, headed by Craig MacTavish, could be looking to change things up quite a bit.
One of the players who has his future up in the air with this organization is Sam Gagner. Heading into free agency this summer, albeit of the restricted variety, there have been significant questions over whether or not the Oilers would look to sign Gagner long-term or trade him.
The arguments to keep Gagner are relatively simple. Despite his glaring weaknesses as a center, most notably his consistent failure at the dot, he’s an offensive weapon, both in the playmaking game and in putting up goals on his own. We saw a great deal of that this season, more than any other year prior to this.
The 2013 season was a career year for Gagner. He was one of the most consistent Oilers all season, finishing with 38 points in 48 games. Had it been a full season, he easily would have set some new career marks. His fourteen goals were just two shy of his career high, in nearly 30 less games. He also had 24 assists, with 15 of his points coming with the Oilers on the man advantage.
It’s that type of play that has the Oilers currently looking at signing Gagner as a priority, rather than trying to trade him. The Oilers are a club that is extremely thin in the middle, as we saw this season when the likes of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins went down with injury. Gagner’s 2013 season may have saved his spot on the team.
Those questions over his future seem to be a thing of the past. The Oilers have made it pretty clear that they’re trying to bring him back for the long-term. They would be wise to do that, as teams might be willing to throw out an offer sheet after the season he had. But if he can build on this, signing him would be an obvious move for this franchise, regardless of their other areas of need.