Simon Gagne aims for a contract extension with the Tampa Bay Lightning

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for simongagne6.jpgThere are a lot of reasons why I thought that – while he wasn’t technically a free agent – Simon Gagne was quietly the best forward value on the market this summer. When healthy, Gagne is a speedy winger with at least some defensive conscience who also brings a goal scoring ability to the table. Beyond a $100 million player such as Ilya Kovalchuk and a wallflower with a lower ceiling such as Alex Frolov, there weren’t many players to compare to Gagne on the open market.

But what really set Gagne apart in my mind is the (relative) low-risk nature of his situation. While $5.25 million is far from cheap, he’s in the last year of his deal, so if things don’t work out the Tampa Bay Lightning will only suffer for one season. Compare that to the extraordinary risk the New Jersey Devils are taking with Kovalchuk (and the fact that the Lightning gave up very little to acquire Gagne) and GM Steve Yzerman quite possibly landed one of the coups of the summer.

Of course, most athletes playing a dangerous, high-impact sport would prefer to enjoy the security of a longer deal. Mike Corcoran shares Gagne’s stated goal for the 2010-11 season: to earn a contract extension with the Lightning.

Much was made over some comments made before the start of training camp, when the term “one year” was heard, but there is no doubt what Gagne is hoping for in the long term.

“I didn’t come here to be here one year and move somewhere else after [this year],” Gagne said. “I would love to make things work here with Vinny, and the boys here, the coaching staff, Mr. Yzerman, having a good start, and hopefully finding a way to get an extension. That’s my goal and hopefully that is going to work.”

Gagne is expected to be a huge part of what the team is trying to accomplish this year. He is an integral part of what many believe is one of the best top-six in hockey. The Lightning are hoping that Gagne can stay healthy and return to the player that had back-to-back 40-goal seasons. He has looked good in practice and preseason games, including a three-point night against the defending Stanley Cup-champion Chicago Blackhawks.

With his history of nagging injuries (from less serious ailments such as groin problems to scary stuff like concussions), you cannot blame Tampa Bay if they test the waters for most of – if not all – of the season. The team also will need to re-sign Steven Stamkos this summer and Victor Hedman the next, so Gagne will need to keep his expectations realistic.

Still, Gagne is only 30 years old right now, which means he should still have a few more years were he’s at-or-near his prime. He’s probably gearing up for his last “big” contract before he becomes a cheaper veteran option, so don’t be surprised if the talented winger puts up some nice numbers this season.

He certainly has every incentive to do so.

(H/T to John Fontana of Raw Charge.)

Scroll Down For:

    Update: Evgeni Malkin is still a bad man

    Leave a comment

    Sometimes an angry Evgeni Malkin means a stray power play or two for his opponents, but it’s usually not the best idea to make him angry.

    Giving a player that big and talented extra motivation just seems like a bad idea, right?

    Joel Ward experienced that phenomenon on Tuesday, as Malkin responded to a blow from Ward with the goal you can see above.

    This continues a red-hot streak for Malkin. Tonight’s goal and assist (and counting?) stretches his scoring streak to four games, each with at least one goal.

    Malkin came into Tuesday with 10 points in his last six games as well, so … yeah, no. 71 is feeling it right now.

    Of course: Ryan Suter wins it for Wild vs. ‘Hawks after those wild quotes

    NBCSN screen

    You know what they say: “What a difference a game makes.”

    Even in the 82-game marathon that an NHL regular season is, that can be true.

    Ryan Suter admitted he went too far with comments during tough times, yet there he was on Tuesday night, grinning ear-to-ear after scoring the 2-1 goal that ended up being the game-winner.

    Heck, people were even joking about things. The healing powers of winning, right?

    As of this writing, this win places Minnesota in the last wild card spot, and they’re close to elbowing in on the Chicago Blackhawks (who own a standings point advantage, but have played two more games so far in 2015-16).

    Jeremy Roenick labels this 2-1 win as a “team win” for Minnesota, and it showed on that 2-1 goal, as the Wild showed off some picture-perfect passing and a willingness to crash the net for rebounds.

    Let’s face it, though; Devan Dubnyk deserves plenty of credit, too.

    It won’t be easy in the Central Division, and things may get heated again. Still, this is the sort of win that may just help Minnesota build up some confidence.

    Hey look: Flyers reel off three straight wins for first time in 2015-16

    Sean Couturier
    Leave a comment

    When you’re talking about bright sides, most people believe that they boil down to the light at the end of the tunnel for the Philadelphia Flyers.

    Sometimes it’s nice to enjoy a little success in the present while waiting for that bright future, though.

    The Flyers are providing at least a burst of sunshine lately, as Tuesday’s 4-2 win against the Ottawa Senators gives them … (drum roll) their first three-game winning streak of this season.

    Joy abounded.

    Even in recent darker moments, Philly’s been pretty impressive on offense, so Flyers fans are likely relieved to see a relative offensive outburst.

    Sure, it wasn’t all rainbows and unicorns – Radko Gudas might have gotten himself into some trouble, for instance – yet this is still a nice sign of life for a team expected to finish in the draft lottery.

    If that fails … hey, the future may require shades.

    This own-goal captures the start of Dougie Hamilton’s Flames career

    Dougie Hamilton
    Leave a comment

    Here’s an understatement: things haven’t gone very well for Dougie Hamilton early in his first season with the Calgary Flames.

    (It must feel like the opposite of Tyler Seguin in Dallas for Boston Bruins fans, but feel free to disagree in the comments.)

    You could look at Hamilton’s meager offensive stats and break down his disappointing work through a very of “fancy” and traditional metrics …

    … Or you could just fire up a projector and show this own-goal on a loop.

    Update: Did Hamilton picture all the negative headlines and harness that energy for a greater good? He scored the game-tying goal as Calgary upset Dallas 4-3 via a shootout.