Despite Sam Gagner's recent eight-point performance against the Chicago Blackhawks, rumors continue to circulate that the 22-year-old center could be traded between now and the trade deadline. Gagner followed up his record-tying performance with a three-point night last night against the Detroit Red Wings.
According to TSN's Darren Dreger, Gagner's recent performance has likely raised his trade value rather than take him off the market altogether.
Gagner, who is a restricted free agent at season's end, was previously linked to the Blackhawks, but those rumours were put to rest when Chicago traded for Calgary's Brendan Morrison—a cheaper option. He has since been rumored to have caught the eye of the Nashville Predators and the Minnesota Wild, among others.
Although Gagner would command a high price if he were traded, he is a capable second-line center with a great offensive upside, so why trade him?
Gagner is a great fit with the Oilers. He has youth, speed and skill to boot and has developed chemistry with Jordan Eberle and Taylor Hall. Because of his youth, the Oilers can target Gagner, as well as Hall, Eberle, and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins as the forwards that will be the centerpieces of this rebuild.
Gagner, a former sixth-overall draft choice of the Oilers, is nowhere near his prime and if the Oilers were to deal him, it's possible they would come to regret it.
Other Oilers rumored to be on the market include the oft-injured Ales Hemsky and sophomore Magnus Paajarvi.
If the Oilers don't believe Devan Dubnyk is the goaltender of the future in Edmonton, a starting goalie should be the priority in Edmonton, especially considering the volume of quality defensemen featured in the upcoming entry draft.
If Edmonton were to pick up Everett Silvertips blueliner Ryan Murray or Red Deer Rebels D-man Matthew Dumba, it would considerably help their defensive core.
Moreover, Gagner is a great offensive talent who could continue to mesh with the rest of the Oilers forward group. While the Oilers don't necessarily have a deficiency down the middle, they aren't overly stacked at the center position either, and if Gagner were to be shipped out, the team would be left without a bona fide offensive threat to fill in behind Nugent-Hopkins.
Simply put, the Oilers should not trade Sam Gagner unless they are approached with a trade they just can't refuse, and right now, it's unlikely that type of deal would be presented to them.