On Friday morning, the Edmonton Oilers announced that they signed forward Sam Gagner to a one year contract worth $3.2 million dollars. The new contract will be a significant raise on last year’s salary of $2.275 million. Gagner scored 18 goals (an NHL career high) and 47 points last season in 75 games. The most memorable of those games was against the Chicago Blackhawks on February 2nd where he scored 4 goals and 4 assists to tie an Oilers record for most points in one game with the likes of Wayne Gretzky and Paul Coffey.
Gagner’s name has seemingly been in trade conversations for many years. The 22 year old was drafted 6th overall in the 2007 NHL draft and came with lofty expectations. But many felt it was a mistake to bring him into the NHL at age 18, as it seemed to have be a detriment to his development. At 5″11 he was never going to overwhelm anyone with his size, but his vision and puck handling skills were thought to be at a higher level than his peers. Gagner has yet to hit the 20 goal plateau in the NHL but the potential is certainly there. There was speculation as to whether or not the Oilers felt Gagner was one of their core players going forward, and it seems with every passing draft pick he gets lower on the depth chart. The one year deal means Gagner will be an Unrestricted Free Agent next offseason.
Gagner spoke to Oilers writer Ryan Dittrick regarding the new deal.
“”I’m really excited to get this over with. Arbitration is something you want to avoid if you can. There’s an opportunity to stay here long-term. I need to have another good year and continue to solidify myself as a good NHL player. There has to be pressure on everyone. We need that internal drive where we’re trying to get better and push each other to new heights.” Twitter
Gagner’s new deal was the second signing in just over a week for the Oilers. They also elected to bring back defenseman Theo Peckham, signing him to a one year deal worth just over $1 million dollars. The 24 year old is hoping for a fresh start with the team.
“When you don’t play to the best of your ability, there are two ways you can go about it,” he said. “You can let it drag your career down or take it as an opportunity to show not only the coaching staff but this town that you have a lot more left and you can play a lot better. I’m not going to wait and see what happens. I’m just going to go in and take my spot. I’ll let that be known. It’s about getting the job done,” Peckham said. “But you always have to look at training camp the same, whether you had a great year or a bad year. I know I didn’t have the best year, and I really want to correct that this year.” (Canada.com)