The Tampa Bay Lightning acquired young center Sam Gagner in a trade with the Edmonton Oilers on Sunday night, the team announced. Right winger Teddy Purcell heads to Edmonton in the two-player swap, continuing a busy weekend of action in the hockey world.
Gagner, 24, was drafted by the Oilers with the sixth overall pick in the 2007 draft. After quickly grabbing a starting role with the team during his first full season, finishing seventh in Calder Trophy voting as a 19-year-old, his development has stagnated to a disappointing degree.
In 2013-14, Gagner set career-lows in goals (10) and points (37) over 67 games, failing to make a major impact amidst a disappointing season for Edmonton. Those numbers are especially concerning when one considers that Gagner put up 13 goals and 49 points as a rookie, and hasn’t topped those numbers since.
So rather than hope Gagner will turn it around over the final two years of his contract, which has an annual cap hit of $4.8 million, the Oilers are pulling the plug and adding some veteran help.
Purcell, 28, doesn’t have Gagner’s upside, but gives the team a wing who can put the puck in the net with some regularity. Over 82 games with Tampa Bay last season, he recorded 12 goals and 42 points, though those numbers actually represent a decline in production.
Just two years ago, Purcell had a breakout season with the Bolts, going off for 24 goals and 65 points to earn a three-year extension from the team. While he may have trouble replicating that production with new linemates, the Oilers surely hope that he can provide greater offensive punch than Gagner did the past couple years.
As for money, Purcell has a cap hit of $4.5 million and both deals last another two years, so it’s almost a wash between the two contracts. This is very much a swap of talent, so it’ll be interesting to see who wins out in the end.