Connect with us

Edmonton Oilers

Sam Gagner Signing Could Lead to Retirement In an Oilers Jersey

That Sam Gagner signed a PTO with the Oilers might be less about his contributions on the ice than it is setting up his future retirement.

The Edmonton Oilers made it official on Monday that the team announced they have signed Sam Gagner to a professional tryout contract (PTO). There’s no guarantee that he will make the team and what he decides to do should he not isn’t clear. He could choose to sign with another club that shows interest, he could take a deal to play with the Oilers’ AHL affiliate team in Bakersfield (hoping for an opportunity later in the season) or he could retire.

Should he choose the last of the three options, it would be a fitting end for a player who spent some of his best NHL years with the Oilers and may be looking at a future with the team in a different capacity than that of a player.

Gagner, still technically an unrestricted free agent, has remained on the market throughout the summer without receiving a suitable contract offer. Factors such as his age, the current tightness of the salary cap landscape, his up-and-down status in the NHL over the past few seasons, and his health condition could have contributed to this situation. There is value in this player, but it’s hard to see where exactly he fits on an already-stacked Oilers team that has the best power play in the NHL and skill forwards. What they need is depth and physicality, whereas Gagner offers more of a specialized skill set: shoot-outs, power play, and some penalty-killing experience.

Related: Sam Gagner Officially Signs a PTO with the Edmonton Oilers

His odds of making it aren’t great and only Gagner and the Oilers know if this is less about trying to make the NHL this season and more about opening the door to a new role with the team.

Hip surgery during the off-season might have impacted the offers from potential suitors. It may also affect his chances of making the roster. Frankly, Gagner may be looking to see what’s still in the tank, but he may also be looking at life after hockey, and his work ethic and smarts would be a valuable asset to the organization, now run by Jeff Jackson. Jackson also happens to be extremely close with Sam’s father, Dave Gagner. Dave is a big deal at the Wasserman Group, where Jackson came from as an NHL agent.

Sam Gagner Oilers
Sam Gagner Oilers

Sam became Jackson’s inaugural client in his role as a player agent. The connections are way too important to ignore. Considering these factors, it’s challenging to envision a more fitting destination for the player, given the circumstances. And, when you factor in that Sam Gagner might have the chance to finish his career where it started — with the Edmonton Oilers — this entire situation makes a ton of sense.

If This Is It, Gagner Has Had a Solid NHL Career

Gagner, aged 34, was initially selected as the 6th overall pick by the Oilers in the 2007 NHL Draft. He spent the first seven years of his career with Edmonton before stints with the Coyotes, Flyers, Blue Jackets, and Canucks. His return to the Oilers in the 2018-19 season marked a significant period.

During his second tenure, Gagner notably contributed to the memorable Battle of Alberta, which involved a line brawl and a goalie fight. Subsequently, he was traded to the Detroit Red Wings before the 2020 deadline to create cap space. Gagner spent nearly three seasons with the Red Wings before joining the Winnipeg Jets for the past season.

Now, he finds himself back in Edmonton on a professional tryout (PTO) contract, a move that brings him back to his hockey “home” once again. I won’t yet write off his chances to contribute to the Oilers this season. That said, something tells me this is more about what comes after his NHL career ends than it is about how he’ll help this team on the ice over the next few months.

Next: Buffalo Sabres Owner Terry Pegula Takes on President Role

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Pingback: Phil Kessel Open to Depth Role: A Fit for the Edmonton Oilers?

Leave a Reply

More News