Is Oilers’ Sam Gagner worth more than $4.0 million in arbitration?

Edmonton Oilers forward Sam Gagner could double his $2.28 million salary in arbitration next summer, according to SportsNet hockey analyst Nick Kypreos.

Gagner will be a restricted free agent come July 1st. He has 11 goals and 23 assists and has been playing third line minutes the entire season. However, Kypreos suggests that he could get over $4.0 million.

And that may be reason enough for the Oilers to trade him.

The Oilers will have to lock up their big guns, i.e. Jordan Eberle, Taylor Hall, and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, to long-term big-money contracts soon, so will they be willing to invest that much money on Gagner?

Perhaps if he proves that he can take his game to another level. SportsNet hockey analyst Doug MacLean says the Oilers should trade Shawn Horcoff and give Gagner a shot to replace him on the second line (see video below).

During the latest SportsNet’s HockeyCentral Trade Tracker segment, the panel also speculated Gagner’s trade value was at it’s highest. But if the Oilers haven’t been able to parlay Gagner into the top-four defenseman they covet so much yet, there’s a probability that they won’t be able to do so before the February 27 trade deadline.

Should Gagner performs well as a second line center over the remainder of this season, however, teams may be more inclined to make a defenseman available to the Oilers in the summer.

If he were to be traded this before the deadline, Kypreos believes Gagner could cost a first round draft pick and a third round pick but would not be able to get the Oilers the blueliner they want on his own.

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