Less than two hours after he was traded to the Tampa Bay Lightning, now former Edmonton Oilers center Sam Gagner is the newest member of the Arizona Coyotes, along with B.J. Crombeen, who was also part of the deal. The Lightning sent winger Teddy Purcell to Edmonton to complete the Gagner trade and will get a 2015 sixth-round draft pick from Arizona for shipping the former Oilers center and tough guy Crombeen to the desert.
In addition to the trade, Tampa Bay is retaining one-third of Gagner's salary according to ESPN's Pierre LeBrun. That will tack on $1.6 million to the Lightning's payroll under the salary cap.
Get all that?
Gagner has been part of trade rumors for years and now he ended up being traded twice in the same night.
Gagner, who battled through injuries last year including major jaw surgery, put up 37 points in 67 games for the Oilers. The former sixth overall pick has 295 career points in 481 NHL games, all with the Oilers. He has not yet matched his rookie point total of 49 in any of his six additional seasons in the league.
He never quite put it all together in Edmonton, but at 24, still has some upside. A change of scenery could be good for him and he should have a decent role with the Coyotes to try to make it work.
The Coyotes had a need at center after buying out Mike Ribeiro earlier in the week. Gagner comes a bit cheaper, even though the Coyotes retain a $1.94 million cap hit due to Ribeiro's ordinary-course buyout. With the Lightning retaining some salary, Gagner's cap-hit isn't as tough to swallow on top of Ribeiro's buyout hit.
"We are very pleased to acquire a talented, young center like Sam Gagner," said Coyotes general manager Don Maloney in a statement. "He has the intelligence, character and skill set we were looking for and we believe he has further growth in his game. We look forward to welcoming Sam to Arizona."
In all likelihood, this was a way for the Lightning to clear some cap space. Even with retaining a third of Gagner's salary, Tampa Bay has more flexibility going forward into free agency, which could make things really interesting.
They added even more flexibility later Sunday night when the club traded forward Nate Thompson to the Anaheim Ducks for fourth- and seventh-round draft picks. General manager Steve Yzerman must have big plans for the Lightning.
For the Oilers, they shed a player that had struggled in his role despite occasional flashes of brilliance. They also ended up adding a veteran to provide some scoring depth in Purcell.
Purcell had 42 points for the surprising Lightning last year and has one 20-goal season under his belt having played parts of eight seasons in the NHL. Purcell isn't much cheaper than Gagner with a $4.5 million cap hit until 2015-16.
Gagner's departure, however, may require Edmonton to put Leon Draisaitl, the No. 3 overall pick from this weekend's draft, into action right away next year, assuming he's up to the challenge.
After all of the trade rumors that swirled around the draft, it seems that things are only beginning to heat up in the days ahead of unrestricted free agents hitting the open market.