On the latest edition of CBC’s Satellite Hotstove, the panel reported that the Edmonton Oilers have not had any contract negotiations with restricted free agent forward Sam Gagner.
Oilers general manager Steve Tambellini is said to be evaluating whether Gagner can play on the club’s top two lines before deciding what the player’s future with the club will be. Gagner will have until closer to the February 27 trade deadline to prove himself.
If the Oilers decide to move Gagner, his recent eight-point game against the Chicago Blackhawks has no doubt made more than a few general managers have taken notice. Especially Blackhawks’ Stan Bowman who saw the record feat in person. Chicago has been rumored to have some interest in picking up Gagner, as ESPN’s Craig Custance reports. But after trading for forward Brendan Morrison in late January, Bowman may not be in such a hurry to make a deal.
Eric Francis of the Calgary Sun claims that a top-four defenseman must come back in return should the Oilers deal Gagner.
But like the Toronto Maple Leafs, not many teams are willing that price.
David Staples of the Edmonton Journal reported towards the end of January that the Maple Leafs had expressed some interest in the 22-year-old center. Toronto has a number of NHL-caliber defenseman that they can part with, including Carl Gunnarsson and Luke Schenn.
The problem is that the Maple Leafs may not want to include any of those players in a trade for the diminutive Gagner. Toronto is looking to bolster their center position with a big and truculent center that can score. Gagner does not provide that combination of skills.
But all these rumors may all be for nothing if Gagner shows enough in his tryout as a second line center. The club may feel that whatever they can get for him in a trade may not be enough for them to part with.
And that would be OK with Oilers head coach Tom Renney, who tells John MacKinnon of the Edmonton Journal that perhaps Gagner may be ready to live up to expectations right where he is, in Edmonton.
Maybe, in a strange kind of way, maybe the wheel has turned. Maybe we’re going in the right direction here now and we can start to talk about more special things. That’s what you can look forward to here. I’m not going to say it’s going to be a high-wire act every night and we’re going to be doing extraordinary things offensively every single time we play… but this team is going to be special, there’s no question.