Edmonton Oilers

The case against Sam Gagner’s return to the Edmonton Oilers’ roster

34-year-old center, 5’11”, 201 lbs, 1015 games played, 0.511 career PPG, -137 career plus-minus, 11 playoff games with 0 goals and four assists, and coming off double hip surgery.

Those are not ideal stats when looking for an NHL vet to fill a roster spot, especially if your team is in “win now” mode. However if you substitute those stats for the name Sam Gagner and all of a sudden a majority of Edmonton Oiler fans will put the blinders on. They will reminisce about the time Gagner scored eight points in one game and how that made them feel good during a dark time for the franchise. It is amazing how quickly they forget the team finished the season 29th in the league with 32 wins for a measly 74 points and missed the playoffs every year Gagner was an Oiler.

Fans blinded by nostalgia

It is equally amazing how much patience said fans have for an undersized forward who averaged about 40 points per season for the Oilers. Add 11 years and take away 15 minutes a night, and maybe Gagner could put up eight points in the regular season. Only to get pushed around and out muscled when it’s time to play big boy hockey in the playoffs. Plus there’s no guarantee Gagner will make it the entire season without getting injured. What a waste of time and energy that would be.

Ganger “was” a warrior for the Oilers back in the day—key word being was. That was then and maybe the Oilers could use a “in his prime” Gagner today, but a prime Gagner would not accept the league minimum to fit on todays roster.

Gagner signs a professional try-out with the Oilers and all of a sudden the Oilers need to reunite the smurf line, if only they could bring back Jordan Eberle too! I would have more time for an Eberle return, however there is no way the Oilers could fit him on the roster.

What is the obsession with overrated, undersized, skill forwards and Oilers fans? Am I the only one who remembers all the pain and suffering of watching veteran teams outwork and outmuscle those young skilled Oilers while finishing every season in the draft lottery?

Room for developmental growth

I have good news for Oilers fans, the decade of darkness is over and has been for a few years now. The Oilers have officially enter their window of contention. The franchise needs to look forward, not backwards. Especially with Dylan Holloway and Raphael Lavoie knocking on the door step. Not to mention that Coach Jay Woodcroft has utilized 11 forwards and seven defencemen quite a bit during his tenure in Edmonton, which leaves even less opportunity for an underperforming forward. With the Oilers up against the cap, every spot on the roster counts and I would much rather see a chance given to a prospect to develop than Gagner.

Although it would be a nice feel story that has already generated tons of likes and clicks, if the Oilers truly are in their window of contention, then there is no need to fill the seats with feel good stories. We had plenty of feel good stories and hope sold to us prior to drafting Connor McDavid. The feel good story this year has the potential to erase decades of painful memories.

I don’t understand how a player with 11 career playoff games and zero playoffs goals helps this season. Oilers fans need to take the blinders off and keep the eyes on the prize. Long story short, a washed up Sam Gagner should not be on the 2023- 2024 Edmonton Oilers.


  1. Explanation:

    1. He is an NHL vet and they must dress a certain number of vets for each exhibition game. It helps lessen the load on other vets.

    2. They may be intending on retiring him as an Oiler. He is not better than Derek Ryan and hopefully Lavoie shows better than him as well.

  2. Its true, Gagner does not seem like a great fit for the 12F. He’s not a center, he doesn’t bring size, or speed or high end 2-way play or plus PK ability and he’s coming off double hip surgery and hasn’t been rehabbing, not hockey training, this summer – a few weeks ago he wasn’t sure he’d be ready to come to a camp.

    Truth be told, Brandon Sutter has the “skill-set” the Oilers need for that role -a true right shot center with size, a history of plus defensive play against elites, high end PK and good faceoffs – of course, he was barely hanging on to an NHL career before he missed two full seasons with long term health issues and its unlikely he can positively impact a good NHL roster.

    Its Ralph Lavoie that needs to earn that 12F spot – if he can’t beat out the end of career players listed above for that spot then, damn, time has run out fast on Lavoie. With that said, he is the one player in competition for that spot that has a potential future with the team and can still potentially be an impact player. He’s not a center but a 6’4 right shot shooter.

    With all that said, I’d be fine with Gagner signing a league min deal, clearing waivers and playing in Bako – I’d prefer him called up over the likes of Hamblin and Pederson and Malone while Bourgault and Tulio percolate (they both could play NHL games but not until the calendar flips).

    Part of the issue there those is logistical as the Condors already have “too many vets” where they all can’t play at the same time or they will exceed the max vet rule.

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