Coming off a terrible season in Philly and joining a team coming off a brutal season of its own, Sam Gagner's modest one-year deal with the Blue Jackets didn't attract much notice last August. My, how times have changed. The journeyman found a home on an explosive Columbus power play, leading him to a career-high 50 points and a three-year, $9.45 million contract with the Canucks. He's still never lived up to the hype of being the sixth overall pick in 2007, but Gagner showed last year he can contribute offensively without being a defensive liability, something that was very much in doubt given the ugly plus-minus ratings he was posting a few seasons ago. Expect him to fill a similar role in Vancouver, with his production tied to the effectiveness of the team's power-play unit.
Gagner signed a three-year contract worth $3.15 million annually with the Canucks on Saturday, Pierre LeBrun of TSN reports. After a down year with the Flyers in 2015-16 that saw him get demoted to the AHL for the first time in his career, Gagner returned to form last season with the Blue Jackets. The 27-year-old forward tallied a career-high 50 points during the campaign and the output earned him a sizeable pay increase. He may not be surrounded by the same level of firepower in Vancouver that he enjoyed with Columbus. The Canucks ranked near the bottom of the league in scoring last season, so some regression from Gagner wouldn't come as a surprise.
Gagner is a pending unrestricted free agent, thus exposing him to the Vegas expansion draft, theScore reports. Gagner forced his way back into relevancy in his first season in Columbus with a whopping career-high 50 points after toiling in Arizona and Philadelphia for a couple years. He only signed a one-year deal with the Jackets, however, and since he doesn't yet have a new deal done with the team, he's officially been exposed to the Golden Knights' draft. If they wish to select the 27-year-old, they'll get three days of exclusive negotiating rights before his rights transfer back to Columbus until the start of free agency July 1.
Gagner managed two assists with a plus-1 rating in Sunday's 3-2 loss against the Capitals. After a cold snap in mid-March, the center is back at it again. He has pieced together a three-game point streak with four assists and a plus-2 rating and is up to 49 points, tying a career high set during his rookie season with the Oilers.
Gagner opened the scoring Monday with his 18th goal of the season in a 5-3 win over the Flyers. The tally extended his point streak to six games, and Gagner now has 10 points (four goals, six assists) in his last 10 games. He's already established new career highs in goals (18), points (44) and power-play goals (eight) this season, and the 27-year-old seems intent on capping his comeback campaign with a big run to the finish line.
Gagner may remain at center even after Lukas Sedlak returns from an oblique strain, The Columbus Dispatch reports. Sedlak's injury forced Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella to shift Gagner to his natural center position rather than play the wing at even strength, and the result has been three goals and nine points in the last nine games. The 27-year-old's two assists Saturday established a new career high for him with 43 points (17 goals, 26 assists) on the season, and Gagner's shown excellent chemistry with rookie Oliver Bjorkstrand since the latest line juggle from Torts. Sedlak is the team's best faceoff man, so he should suit up again as soon as he's healthy, but if Gagner keeps producing he'll be hard to dislodge from his current spot.
Rank Among Leaders
Last 7 Games
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