Sunday, August 29, 2010

Oilers Re-Sign Gagner

The Oilers finished off some much needed work on Sunday evening by signing restricted free agent forward Sam Gagner to a new 2-year deal, reportedly worth $4.55 million, a $2.225 million cap hit per season. The veteran of three seasons will now likely play an instrumental role in the development between some of the team's young wingers in Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle and Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson.

On a struggling Oilers team, scoring came at a real premium for their players and Gagner was no exception. He did, however, finish with 41 points (15 goals and 26 assists) in 68 games, which was good for second on the team behind Dustin Penner.  With an influx of some clutch young talent coming up the pipe, the Oilers and Gagner could see a positive resurgence into the goal scoring column, which is a step in the right direction, especially if they learn to keep pucks out of their own net.

In Edmonton, I would wager that the number one centre position is up for grabs come the start of training camp and it will be whoever handles their winger partners the best that will take the job.  Shawn Horcoff is coming off a miserable 2010 and will desperately need to show some real touch to start earning that money he signed for in 2008.

Dustin PennerKurtis FosterJeff Deslauriers
Sam GagnerRyan WhitneyNikolai Khabibulin
Gilbert BruleTom Gilbert
Shawn HorcoffSheldon Souray
Ales HemskyJim Vandermeer
Colin FraserLadislav Smid
Zach StortiniTaylor Chorney
Ryan Jones
J-F Jacques

Salary CapNow it comes down to the ol' dollars and sense portion of the team update, now that we see how the team is rounding out, sans their young superstars.  Of course, once training camp drops, you'll see all the top prospects hit these tables as potential players to make the roster, but for now, these are the roster players I expect to be on today, because of experience and games played in 2010.  This group of nine forwards, seven defense and two goalies, plus one buyout and one cap overage penalty, come in at $45.5 million against the cap.  That's pretty good shape for a number of large entry-level deals still to hit these books and a big question mark hanging over top of Nikolai Khabibulin.

With training camp only a few weeks away, the Oilers still have some shuffling or some official paperwork still to accomplish before we can go into too much detail about how well they will do in 2011.  I don't think there is too much doubt that they will improve offensively, but with Souray on the way out and some young kids manning the helm at the back, I would be curious to see how the defense fares against the rest of the Northwest Division and league.  This could very well be a team that goes back to its roots and finds some high-scoring, up-tempo games, to which I have my doubts that they will be on the right end of most nights.

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