The Edmonton Oilers took care of a key piece of important business early on Monday, agreeing to a new deal with center Sam Gagner. The restricted free agent forward was set to head to arbitration, instead agreeing to a new three-year deal to remain with the Oilers.
Gagner was coming off of a career year for the Oilers, but there was some speculation that he could be traded, at least earlier in the summer. There’s no doubt anymore, though, that he is a key piece of the young core they’ve established here, and he showed that fact in 2013.
Despite being a very consistent player over the course of his career, Gagner had never really been able to live up to his billing as a sixth overall pick. That changed this season, as he finished with the best scoring rate of his career, notching an impressive 38 points in 48 games.
His 14 goals were only four short of his career high, despite it being a shortened season. He added another 24 helpers to the mix, with 15 of his points coming with the Oilers on the man advantage. He wasn’t great in the faceoff circle, though, a trend throughout his career, winning only 44 percent of draws.
The new deal for Gagner is for three years and will carry a cap hit of $4.8 million, a figure which is actually lower than Gagner was reportedly trying to get at arbitration. And while that might seem like a big price to pay for a guy who hasn’t been a big offensive presence for more than one year, it was the price the Oilers had to pay.
They simply didn’t have any depth in the middle on the roster. Despite a need for centers, there wasn’t much on the market, in terms of availability. Outside of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Boyd Gordon, the Oilers didn’t have much in the middle. And Gagner knew that, which is why this deal is perfectly reasonable and is a good price for the soon to be 24-year-old.