In case you missed it earlier today, the Vancouver Canucks placed veteran forward Sam Gagner on waivers, for the purposes of re-assigning him to the American Hockey League’s Utica Comets.
The 29 year old Gagner signed a three year contract worth $3.15 million per season last offseason and is still owed over $6 million over the next two years. Ouch… that’s a lot of coin to pay a guy to play in the minors.
The veteran of 700+ NHL games put up 10 goals and 31 points in 74 games during his first season with the Canucks, a sharp decline from the 18 goals and 50 points he put up a season prior with the Columbus Blue Jackets. The former 6th overall pick of the 2007 NHL Entry Draft has bounced around the NHL in recent years. After starting his career with seven consecutive seasons with the Edmonton Oilers, Gagner has played for the Arizona Coyotes, Philadelphia Flyers, Blue Jackets and Canucks over the past four seasons.
While Gagner’s production may not warrant his contract, there’s still a chance that a team takes a chance on him. He costs nothing more than a waiver claim and can add some depth offensive ability to a strong team. Would it be terribly surprising to see a team like the Chicago Blackhawks, Montreal Canadiens or Carolina Hurricanes make a claim on Gagner? He’s played center at certain points of his career and could be a fit on a team’s power play.
In any case, the Canucks' waiving of Gagner is in line with the mandate put forward by general manager Jim Benning earlier this offseason. While Benning was criticized for handing out free agent contracts to veterans like Jay Beagle, Tim Schaller and Antoine Roussel this past summer, Benning made sure to let the players know that contract status does not dictate who plays and who sits. The fact of the matter is that Gagner was badly outplayed this preseason by youngsters like Elias Pettersson and Tyler Motte. With only so many spots to go around, something had to give. So long, Sam Gagner... at least you'll always have your 8 point night from your heyday with the Oilers: