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Would Free Agent Sam Gagner Be a Good Fit with the Maple Leafs?

The Toronto Maple Leafs usually find veteran leadership at a budget contract. Might Sam Gagner be that player with Jason Spezza retired?

I remember San Gagner when he first came into the NHL. I was living and working in Edmonton and was a great fan of the Oilers (and I still am). Gagner came in as a young scoring threat – although he never scored 20 goals in a single season – and was chosen sixth overall in the first round of the 2007 NHL Entry Draft. In general, he played well with the Oilers.

Related: Maple Leafs’ Trade for Coyotes Jakob Chychrun Makes Sense

10 Years Ago, Gagner Set an Edmonton Oilers’ Record

Then, in early February 2012, Gagner had a breakout game. He scored four goals and added four assists to tie a club record with eight points to lead his Oilers over the Chicago Blackhawks by a score of 8-4. He had a point on each goal scored by the Oilers.

Sam Gagner (2011-12 Upper Deck Artifacts – Jerseys Patch Autographs Emerald)

Gagner’s eight-point game tied an Oilers’ record that was held by none other than Wayne Gretzky and Paul Coffey. However, it was two points fewer than the NHL record of 10 points, which was set by the Toronto Maple Leafs’ Darryl Sittler – also in early February but 38 years earlier (in 1976).

Should the Maple Leafs Sign Gagner in 2022?

Time has gone by and now Gagner is now 33 years old. He’s been playing well enough, but he’s far from still being a star. In fact, he’s been playing for contracts that have been less than $1 million for the past few seasons. Still, he scored 31 points last season with the Detroit Red Wings (13 goals and 18 assists) playing just over 13 minutes a game. He can contribute.

Could Gagner take over the veteran leadership that the Maple Leafs lost when Jason Spezza retired? Gagner is from nearby London, Ontario, and he has connections with the team. He’d likely be happy enough to give the team some fourth-line depth at a low-priced contract.

Last season in Detroit, Gagner scored 30 of his 31 points in five-on-five play. He saw virtually no time on the power-play and instead was used more as a penalty killer. Having another penalty killer wouldn’t be a bad move for the team. That said, he might also still put in a goal or two on the power-play unit.

Related: Maple Leafs’ Quick Hits: Salary Cap, Holl, Kerfoot & Kokkonen

Gagner Is Versatile and Can Play Both Wing and Center

If Gagner can come close to another 30-point (even 25 points) season, he could have a positive impact on the lineup. Perhaps his best trait is that he can cover all through the lineup if there are injuries. Right now, at this point in his NHL career, he looks like a bottom-six player. However, he could fill in anywhere in the lineup – including the top-six.

Sam Gagner 2021-22 (Upper Deck French)

Depending upon what kind of money Kyle Dubas has when the Maple Leafs start the season, there might be some room for Gagner on the team. As I noted, Gagner is connected in Toronto and is a good friend of captain John Tavares.

The question is, could he be worth a $750,000 one-year deal to be insurance on this team?




  1. Afp1961

    August 14, 2022 at 10:57 am

    Offer him a PTO and if he beats out any Marlie then give him 750k

  2. Pingback: How Good Can Maple Leafs Auston Matthews Be in 2022-23 – Ever? – Old Prof Hockey

  3. Old Prof

    August 15, 2022 at 11:37 pm

    I heard the Oilers were after him – that makes sense.

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