Oilers Trade Ryan Spooner to Canucks for Sam Gagner

Someone is clearly running things in Edmonton. While the team searches for a new general manager, whether it’s Keith Gretzky, Craig MacTavish or CEO and vice-chairman of the Oilers Entertainment Group, Bob Nicholson, someone is pulling the trigger on moves because in less than a 24-hour time period, the Oilers have traded Cam Talbot to the Philadelphia Flyers, talked to Jesse Puljujarvi’s agent about potentially parting ways with the team and hitting the refresh button and on Saturday morning, the team traded struggling forward Ryan Spooner to the Vancouver Canucks for Sam Gagner.

For Gagner, this will mark a return to Edmonton, a team for which he played some of his best seasons as a pro in the NHL.

The Spooner for Gagner Deal

It started on Saturday when Elliotte Friedman wrote, “Hearing EDM/VAN working on something with Sam Gagner.” Within minutes, the Oilers then announced that they had reacquired Gagner and traded him for Spooner, while not retaining any of Spooner’s salary in the deal.

As an Oiler, Gagner had four straight 40-point seasons, but his best points-per-game output came in the lockout year, when he put up 14-24-38 in 48 games. Many fans will remember his glorious eight-point night where he lit up the Chicago Blackhawks in 2012. That was the end of his magic in Edmonton.

Canucks center Sam Gagner
Canucks former center Sam Gagner (Dom Gagne-USA TODAY Sports)

After leaving Edmonton, Gagner bounced around from Philadelphia to Tampa and wound up in Columbus where, just two seasons ago, he piled up a career-high 18-32-50, including eight power play goals. That was enough to land him a multi-year deal with the Canucks.

Related: Oilers Trade Cam Talbot to Flyers for Stolarz

Gagner and Spooner Both Struggled

After signing that deal, Gagner struggled to repeat the production he had in Columbus and he was moved down to the Canucks AHL affiliate and loaned off to the Toronto Marlies. He was brought back up, then sent back down again. The Canucks had since been trying to move him and he’ll return to Edmonton with one year left on his deal at $2.075 million.

Oilers center Ryan Spooner
Former Oilers center Ryan Spooner (Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports)

Meanwhile, Edmonton quickly realized after trading Ryan Strome to the New York Rangers for Ryan Spooner, they’d made a mistake. Much like Gagner in Vancouver, Spooner couldn’t find a footing in Edmonton and struggled to produce. Finally, they sent him down to the Bakersfield Condors of the AHL, but not before the Oilers tried to trade him on multiple occasions, only now finally finding a taker. In 25 games with the Oilers, Spooner produced two goals and one assist.

Spooner was gifted the tag of being what was left from a Jordan Eberle trade and, while that probably wasn’t on the back of his mind, for fans in Edmonton, it was hard to give the player a fair shake as a result. Ironically, the trade now looks like Jordan Eberle for Sam Gagner.

Related: Oilers Treatment of Puljujarvi Is Almost Criminal

Gagner to Play Right Away

For the Oilers, it is expected Gagner will be a contributor and slot into the lineup immediately. No longer buried off the Canucks roster and in the AHL, Keith Gretzky has said he hopes Gagner will be available for the Oilers as they take on the New York Islanders on Saturday.

Could Gagner reproduce some of the magic he had in Edmonton? Will Spooner rekindle some of the success he had under Jim Benning when they worked together in Boston? This is a good trade for both the players and the organization.

Something also suggests, the way the Oilers are making moves, they aren’t done tinkering yet. It will probably start with Puljujarvi going down to the AHL to make room for Gagner’s contract on the main roster. And, as we know from a report late on Friday night, that could mean a bumpy relationship between the Finn, his agent and the Oilers organization.

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