Maybe a grain of salt is required when the rumour comes from Mark Spector, but the man is on the ground in Florida, and there seem to be enough information for everyone to share, so I’ll share his:
“The cash-strapped Coyotes are on the hunt for centremen, and have come to the conclusion that Gagner simply isn’t a fit. Arizona GM Don Maloney has been attempting to trade Gagner while at the NHL Draft, but chances are he would have to take someone else’s bad contract back. Maloney may settle for a buy-out at one-third of the money owed, as Gagner is still just 25 years old.
If bought out, the 25-year-old Gagner would perk the interest of the Leafs as a winger when free agency opens on July 1. Toronto needs young NHL players in their lineup, and Gagner would bring considerable experience at a relatively inexpensive price after being bought out.”
Now, the quote mentions Gagner as a 25 year old, but it’s important to note that Gagner will actually be 26 before the start of the season. That doesn’t mean he’s excessively old by any means, but it’s some additional context. It’s also worth noting that according to NHLNumbers.com, Gagner has a cap hit of just $3.2M for the next season and that makes me wonder if a trade for someone like Robidas might work instead of waiting for a buyout and then signing him?
The main question remains, “why should the Leafs be interested in Gagner in the first place?”
The answer, besides age and potentially cheap contract are as follows:
- He’s a former London Knight, so the Hunter connection will warm the cockles of our hearts
- He’s always been a 40 point guy, despite being on some horrifically bad teams
- He’s a center and it’s nice to have depth at that position
- I went to the game when Sam Gagner scored 8 points, and I’ve been hoping at some point Leafs fans would find this interesting so I can talk about it more.
Gagner is far from a stats darling, but benefited from his sheltering last season. He’s also spent a long time as an Edmonton Oiler and had very little chance at having numbers that don’t look dismal. Gagner seems like he has the potential to be a player that grows under Babcock and could either salvage a career as a top six forward as a Leaf or be immediately flipped after a mild resurgence. I would be very excited to see this rumour pan out.
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