Gagner Agrees to One Year -- Avoids Arbitration

Sam Gagner was set to go through what is often an ugly process. Arbitration hearings are two sides getting together and pointing out all the faults of the other side in hopes that a private third party will agree one way or the other. The player tends to get the better deal financially, but in the process, takes a crap kicking in terms of his ego. Sam Gagner's hearing was set for today.

Arbitration is not a process anyone likes -- unless maybe you're a hockey team with a lesson to teach and your player is Sean Avery.

For Gagner, not wanting to go through the line up and bash me proceedings, was enough to convince him to sign with the Edmonton Oilers just hours before his hearing on a one-year $3.2 million deal. Very reasonable money for a player who by almost every measure is a legit second line center in the NHL.

It is the one-year term that we're hearing was the sticking point for the Oilers. Sam Gagner is a hard working NHL'er. He has consistently proven he can get you 15-18 goals and 40-45 points, but the Oilers aren't sure he can do more than that. Their concern in locking him up long term is that they've seen the finish line with this player and not the starting point.

Edmonton getting Gagner on a one year terms means they'll know for sure by the end of this coming NHL season when Gagner plays with a mix of Jordan Eberle, Taylor Hall, Ales Hemsky, Nail Yaupov and perhaps Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. If one can't get 50 points with these line mates, they probably never will.

For Edmonton, this is very much a win and Gagner takes much of the risk. The ball is in Sam's court now and he'll have to prove with a solid two-way likely 20 goal and 55 point season, he is worth what he and his agent think he is. He'll have to do so all while avoiding major injury and he'll have to do so in a potentially shortened lock-out season, with a new CBA looming that could greatly affect his next deal.

The best part for the Oilers, is that at the end of this year Gagner will still be an restricted free agent. This means Edmonton will have a lot of control in their next negotiation and should they lose Gagner to an offer sheet, will pick up Dustin Penner like compensation.

The Oilers aren't risk free however. Edmonton's is taking a chance that this is the season Sam Gagner breaks out with line mates that should make anyone look offensively gifted. Should that happen, the Oilers will need to reward Gagner with a four to five year, $4 million plus type contract. They'll have to do so at the same time as allocating cap money to Eberle and Hall who will also be ready for new deals.

The pressure is solely on Sam Gagner. The reward is also potentially very great if he not only handles that pressure well, but thrives under it.


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