Edmonton Oilers Re-Sign Sam Gagner and Let Mike Comrie Walk

Alex ThomasContributor IAugust 30, 2010

TORONTO, ON - MARCH 13:  Sam Gagner #89 of the Edmonton Oilers skates in a game against the Toronto Maple Leafs on March 13, 2010 at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario. The Leafs defeated the Oilers 6-4. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
Claus Andersen/Getty Images

Well, long time no write for me. Not much has been going on as of late with the Edmonton Oilers, but tonight we do have some news, and we also have a few interesting rumors that include the Oilers.

The Oilers signed top RFA forward Sam Gagner to a two-year contract earlier tonight. Gagner was the sixth overall pick by the Oilers in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft, and has the second most points of any player in that draft year, behind only Pat Kane of the Blackhawks, who went first.

The Oilers will pay Gagner $2.275 million per season. Gagner had a tough year last year, but so didn't every Oiler. Gagner has 131 points in his NHL career, getting 44 goals and 87 assists. Last season, Gagner scored 15 goals, and added 26 assists for 41 points, but he also missed some time due to a hip injury.

This is a good deal for the Oilers. It gives Gagner two years to prove himself, and it's not at a big cap hit either, meaning the Oilers still have a good amount of room left in their cap space. Gagner made fair market value, which is something the Oilers wanted to make sure happened. Gagner should be the team's top-line center come opening night.

Edmonton Oilers GM Steve Tambellini told Sportsnet.ca that the Oilers will not re-sign UFA center Mike Comrie, who signed a one-year deal last training camp. Comrie came home to Edmonton to prove something after the way he left a number of years ago. Comrie had a real hot start to the season, but it was stopped by a battle with the flu, which was then followed by a battle with mono.

Had Comrie not been sick, he would have been the Oilers' second best forward last season, behind only 32-goal-scorer Dustin Penner. Comrie has seen interest from San Jose, but wanted to wait for a chance to play for his hometown Oilers. That will not be happening.

There are some pretty interesting trade rumors going around that involve the Edmonton Oilers.

The Oilers are rumored to be looking at trading winger Dustin Penner, who scored a career best 32 goals last season. The LA Kings were rumored to be a team showing a lot of interest in the big left winger. The rumored return included Ryan Smyth according to some places, and young stud defender Jack Johnson, according to others.

While right now there is nothing that makes me think Penner will be traded before the start of the season, if the Kings are serious about wanting Penner, I could see Tambi wanting to make the deal to get a guy like Johnson in return.

How good is this Penner to LA rumor? Well, it's picking up enough legs where ESPN rumor central is reporting it, but for right now its just a rumor and I fully expect Penner in camp mid-September.

Another rumor surrounding the Oilers is Sheldon Souray. The Kings have stated interest in Souray, which makes me wonder if Penner and Souray could be put in a package with Cogliano and shipped to LA in a blockbuster trade.

The Washington Capitals are another team that has shown a lot of interest in Souray, but they only have $5 million left in cap space, and a pending Eric Belanger signing. If a deal between the Oilers and Caps is going to happen, someone with a bad contract will have to be heading back to Edmonton, with something the Oilers like.

As of now, Souray is still an Oiler, and Oilers president Kevin Lowe said there are no Souray deals close. To me it sounds like Souray will be at camp in mid-September, and will play for the Edmonton Oilers this season until a trade can be made.

For those of you saying send him to OKC, stop; it's not going to happen. He's paid too much to play in the AHL. I think a Souray trade will happen, and it very well could be with Washington or LA, but I think it will happen around November or even December, when Souray proves on the ice he is healthy and can still play.

One last rumor to talk about—Niemi. ESPN.com's rumor central said today the Oilers could look to Niemi this season, and many hockey experts think the same.

Nik Khabibulin will find out how long he will be in jail on Tuesday in Arizona. Khabibulin could very well miss training camp and possibly part of the season, as he faces a max of six months behind bars. Its also possible Khabibulin spends only 30 days in jail, which is the least you can serve. He's a first-time offender, so my bet is 30 days.

Niemi could be the Oilers starter this season. With Khabibulin going to jail, its more than possible that the Oilers rid themselves of the horrible contract using the morals clause. The Oilers could then sign Niemi to be the starter, and replace Khabibulin at a lower cost. Niemi is young, will only get better, and oh yeah, he won a cup.

We will know the Oilers plans with Khabibulin on Tuesday, as Steve Tambellini has said he will comment on the whole thing then. It's also possible the NHL fines and/or suspends Khabibulin for his actions.

One last note on Khabibulin, Oilers GM Steve Tambellini says his back is doing well and if his off-ice actions don't get in the way he should play at 100 percent this season.

For up to the second NHL and Edmonton Oilers news, follow me on twitter @AToilfan83.