Gagner avoids arbitration by a whisker

The Sports Xchange

--Sam Gagner avoided the uncomfortable task of salary arbitration when he agreed at the last minute to a one-year contract extension.

"It was close," said Gagner, who signed a one-year, $3.2 million deal. "We were in the hotel where the arbitration meeting was going to take place. We were pretty much going in when we came to an agreement."

Gagner, 22, made $2.275 million last season, in which he scored 18 goals and added 19 assists for 47 points in 75 games. The highlight of his season was a record eight-point game against the Chicago Blackhawks in February.

"I thought there was a possibility that we would have to go (to arbitration)," said Gagner. "I was prepared for it even though it's something you never want to do. It's something you have to prepare mentally for, but I'm glad it didn't come to that."

--D Theo Peckham, armed with a new contract, is ready to re-ignite his career.

The young, burly Peckham took a step backward under head coach Tom Renney last season but firmly believes he will make up the lost ground this winter.

"I'm happy to get the contract over with. I'm the kind of guy that just wants to play hockey and not really deal with the business side of it," said Peckham, who signed a one-year, $1.075 million deal. "It's not the quickest process in the world, so it's good to get it over with and now I can just focus on hockey."

After establishing himself as an everyday player two years ago, Peckham was limited to 54 games last season after Renney lost confidence in his ability.

"Last year, I didn't play as well as I think I could have," Peckham said. "Taking that into the summer, I'm looking to train a little bit harder and play like I did two seasons ago. I don't think it's too tough that I can't do it. I did it once and I think I can obviously do it again."

"I think last year I got too comfortable thinking that I was an NHL player and perhaps wasn't at the point where I needed to prove it every game. That's something I want to bring back into my game, proving I belong every time I step out onto the ice." -- D Theo Peckham, who's looking for a bounce-back season.

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