Sunday, 29 June 2014

Gagner Is In Pre-Retirement

Sam Gagner's day started out like most others as he prepared for his day as an Edmonton Oiler. Maybe run to the grocery store, do a few errands, but nothing out of the ordinary. However, he got a phone call from Craig MacTavish today, and suddenly he was hunting for a new house in Tampa Bay! Before he could even start the search for a new home, Steve Yzerman had called to let him know that he should be house-hunting in Glendale, Arizona. Suddenly, Sam Gagner knew what many Canadians go through at the time of retirement.

First, the Edmonton Oilers were able to swap Gagner to the Lightning in exchange for Teddy Purcell. I happen to think that Edmonton got a player back who is an immediate upgrade to their top-six forwards, and will complement a number of players the Oilers already have on their roster. In short, I believe that the Oilers won this trade simply because Purcell is a great second-line winger and can generate some offence in the City of Champions while being $300,000 cheaper per year.

Tampa Bay, though, saw an opportunity to shed some salary as they look to upgrade their blue line through free agency on Tuesday, so they flipped Sam Gagner and tough guy BJ Crombeen to the Arizona Coyotes for a sixth-round pick. The Lightning opened up nearly $6 million in cap space for next season, giving them a pile of room to hunt for that right-handed shot from the point they seem to be craving. I can't see why the Coyotes needed to make the deal for Gagner or Crombeen, but it is what it is. Kudos to Steve Yzerman in winning this trade by clearing a ton of cap space for the Lightning's needs.

If you're Sam Gagner, you have to wonder what role you'll be given with the Coyotes. He hasn't scored enough to be a legitimate second-line centerman, and they already have a solid third-line centerman and face-off specialist in Antoine Vermette. If the Coyotes want to rival the Kings in having the most expensive fourth-line centerman, they could.

Instead, Gagner will be forced to replace Mike Ribeiro on the second line, and he'll have to step his game up. He's still a younger player so this shouldn't be a problem, but Gagner has to rediscover his scoring touch to help the Coyotes break through this season. Ten goals and 27 assists just won't cut it in Glendale where they need some solid scoring in replacing Ribeiro. Gagner will have to step up in a big way.

While the title of this article is a little misleading, Gagner is following many Canadians in having spent some time in Florida - albeit ninety minutes - before heading to Arizona. All he needs to do is officially retire and he'd be like any other Canadian in Arizona: enjoying the weather, playing golf, and grabbing a Tim Hortons coffee at Arena.

The only difference? Gagner's probably a scratch golfer from his time in Edmonton.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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