Play It Again, Sam

An old friend is coming back to Oil Country. On Monday, the Edmonton Oilers signed forward Sam Gagner to a professional tryout. The 34-year-old, 16-year NHL veteran and former 6th overall pick of the organization has put up 317 points in 542 games for the Oilers. He played for Edmonton between the 2008 and 2014 seasons, then came back at the 2019 trade deadline. A decent 40-50 point player in his younger years and a shootout wizard in his rookie campaign, his biggest highlight with the franchise was his eight-point night against the Chicago Blackhawks on February 2nd, 2012. He was the third Oiler to achieve that feat after legends Wayne Gretzky and Paul Coffey.

Gagner is the second right-handed center that Edmonton has given a PTO, Brandon Sutter was signed to one earlier this month. I mentioned in my Sutter article that the Oilers wouldn’t mind adding the aforementioned RHC position for the fourth line or as a 13th forward. He played 48 games for the Winnipeg Jets this past season, putting up 14 points. He had to miss the second half of the season after having surgery on both hips. It’s obviously quite different from Sutter’s long COVID predicament, but still a recovering injury nonetheless, and we’ll see how he looks in training camp.

He’s been a fan favourite amongst Oilers fans, even after leaving Edmonton. The fan base has wanted him to make a return, and they’ve gotten their wish. For all the time that Gagner spent in Edmonton, he has never once played in the postseason as an Oiler. He could have in the 2020 season, pandemic aside, but was traded to Detroit mid-season. With the Oilers now having Stanley Cup aspirations, if he can make the team, it’s pretty safe to say that making the Playoffs in Edmonton shouldn’t be a huge issue for him anymore.

Stephen Vani

Oilers fan in Toronto. Staying up past my bedtime for Western games since the mid 2000s.

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