Tag: Sam Gagner

Calgary Flames v Vancouver Canucks

Oilers invite Westgarth to camp, probably to deter what happened last preseason

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One year ago, the Oilers bemoaned a lack of toughness after Sam Gagner and Taylor Hall were targeted during exhibition games.

This preseason, the club is being proactive.

The Oilers are bringing noted pugilist Kevin Westgarth to training camp, the club announced on Tuesday. Westgarth, 30, spent last season with Edmonton’s inter-provincial rival in Calgary, where he was part of a Flames team that also featured fellow enforcer Brian McGrattan (the pair combined to scrap 17 times.)

As mentioned above, the Westgarth invite could be Edmonton’s version of preventive medicine. Following last year’s incidents involving Gagner (had his jaw broken by Zack Kassian) and Hall (Dale Weise took a run at him), the Oilers claimed leviathan Steve MacIntyre off waivers, despite the fact they already had the likes of Mike Brown and Ben Eager in the lineup.

This year, the Oilers already have some toughness on hand in the form of Matt Hendricks and Luke Gazdic — a guy Westgarth knows relatively well:

Domi in contention for roster spot with Arizona

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With top scoring forwards Radim Vrbata and Mike Ribeiro moving on during the summer, the Arizona Coyotes are looking for help offensively.

Enter Max Domi.

The Coyotes first round pick from 2013 (12th overall) scored 34 goals and 93 points in 61 games last season with the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League.

“We’re all questioning how we’re going to score,” General Manager Don Maloney told The Arizona Republic, “and that’s what (Max) does. So let’s see if he can do it.”

NHL.com has the 5-foot-9, 185-pound center pegged as a second liner between Lauri Korpikoski and new comer Sam Gagner.

Domi’s strength on the puck, his quickness and his play in his own zone were all concerns raised by Coyotes coaching staff. The 19-year-old has spent the summer addressing the issues.

“It’s obviously something that I’ve been told to work on, so doing that and using my teammates a little better is something that I know I gotta do better at,” Domi said. “I’ve been watching video of the Coyotes and how they run things. I’ve worked on that a lot, and we’ll see how it works out.”

Domi, the son of 16-year NHL veteran Tie Domi, has proven he can score at the junior level netting 94 goals and 229 points in 187 games over three OHL seasons, but Coyotes coach Dave Tippett is interested to see if Domi can do it against the bigger, better competition the NHL presents.

“Those players are talented in juniors,” Tippett said. “They can get away with things that they can’t get away with here. There has to be a base of knowledge of structure and how to play in certain situations before you can use that skill here. That will be the test for him.”

Domi still has a year of junior hockey eligibility before he can even play in the American Hockey League, but how good will it be for his long-term development to go back to London and dominate against kids younger than him?

Arizona could have a tough decision on their hands as Domi looks to make the leap to the NHL this season.

Related: Gagner looking for fresh start in Arizona

Gagner looking for fresh start in Arizona

Sam Gagner

After being traded twice on the same day in June, center Sam Gagner is hoping to put his struggles in Edmonton behind him with a fresh start in Arizona.

Gagner was dealt from the Oilers to the Lightning and then to Arizona in the span of an hour on June 29.

“Obviously the last couple years in Edmonton haven’t been great, so I’m excited for a fresh start,” Gagner told NHL.com.  “I’m at that phase of my career where I need to take a step forward, and I feel like Arizona is the place to do that.”

In 481 games with Edmonton, the 25-year-old scored 101 goals and 295 points over seven seasons.

Originally a first-round pick of the Oilers (6th overall in 2007), Gagner never materialized into the point-producing forward he was projected as after averaging more than two points per-game with the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League.

The 5-foot-11, 202-pound Ontario native matched a career-low with 10 goals in 2013-14 while battling with a broken jaw suffered in the preseason.

Gagner’s not the only one hoping a change of scenery will do him well.

Coyotes head coach, Dave Tippett feels more minutes will help Gagner flourish.

“If you look at Gagner in Edmonton, they have some top, top talent with guys like (Ryan) Nugent-Hopkins, (Taylor) Hall, (Jordan) Eberle,” Tippett said. “So we hope that Sam can get some of those key minutes that those players got in Edmonton that will allow him to flourish here.

“It’s always a calculated risk, and we hope the change of scenery will do Sam good.”

NHL.com’s Corey Masisak projects Gagner could move from his natural center position to the wing if rookie centers Max Domi or Henrik Samuelsson are ready for the NHL. As Masisak points out, Gagner’s faceoff numbers are not strong and his defensive game has struggled at times, Gagner was a minus-29  last season.

With the departure of Radim Vrbata and Mike Ribeiro, Gagner will be counted on to contribute in Arizona.

“I’m really excited for it, I think they play a solid two-way game and compete really hard,” Gagner said. “I enjoy playing that way, I think it’s really important to be competitive and work hard on and off the ice. I think it really fits well, and it’s just a matter of making the most of it.”

Related: How will Arizona replace the offence lost this summer?

Oilers expect Draisaitl to make ‘strong case’ for roster spot

Leon Draisaitl

The Edmonton Oilers have high hopes for their 2014 first-round pick Leon Draisaitl.

Earlier this month, the Oilers rewarded Draisaitl with a three-year $10.2 million entry-level contract.

On Friday, general manager Craig MacTavish said he believes the 18-year-old will contend for a roster spot with the big club when camp opens next month.

“I’d be shocked if he doesn’t make a strong case,” MacTavish said. “Fortunately we don’t have to make that decision right now. I, in my mind, think that he’s going to make a very strong case. I’ve seen him play. He’s going to make a strong case.

“If this decision is easy, he’s staying. I don’t think he’s going to come in and not make a case for himself. I’d be shocked.”

The 6-foot-1, 204-pound German native is coming off his second season with the Prince Albert Raiders of the Western Hockey League where he scored 38 goals and 105 points in 64 games.

“Anybody – fan, coach, manager, media – anybody that tells you that they can tell you definitively whether Leon Draisaitl is ready or not ready, right now, before getting the information at training camp is naïve,” said MacTavish.

With center Sam Gagner gone there is every opportunity for Draisaitl to make this Oilers team. He’ll likely have to compete with Mark Arcobello, but behind Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is a gaping hole at center in Edmonton at the moment.

Related: Oilers ink Schultz to one-year deal

It’s Tampa Bay Lightning day on PHT

Montreal Canadiens v Tampa Bay Lightning

Despite a pretty successful year — 46 wins, 101 points, snapping a two-year playoff drought — the Tampa Bay Lightning didn’t rest on their laurels this offseason.

Instead, Steve Yzerman emerged as one of this summer’s most active GMs, making a series of moves that put his team in the conversation of Eastern Conference elites. Tampa Bay went big on vets in free agency, adding the likes of Anton Stralman, Brian Boyle, Evgeni Nabokov and Brenden Morrow while retaining the services of Ryan Callahan — keeping the prize piece acquired when Martin St. Louis went to the Rangers at the trade deadline.

Speaking of trades, there were plenty of those too.

Yzerman was like a blackjack dealer on speed. The day prior to free agency, he flipped Teddy Purcell to Edmonton for Sam Gagner, then flipped Gagner to Phoenix (along with B.J. Crombeen) for a sixth-round pick. Just hours after moving Gagner, Yzerman was at it again, sending forward Nate Thompson to Anaheim for a pair of picks.

Oh yeah, he also acquired d-man Jason Garrison from Vancouver on draft day. There was that too.

When the dust finally settled, the fruits of Yzerman’s labor were evident — he rewarded his young players (Calder nominees Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat got matching three-year, $10M deals; Vezina finalist Ben Bishop got a two-year extension), brought in experienced vets, but also cleared roster space for some of the club’s ballyhooed prospects to try and make the leap, like Jonathan Drouin, Nikita Kucherov, Brett Connolly, Vladislav Namestnikov and Adam Erne.

As such, the Lightning look to be a force for next season. There’s depth down the middle in Boyle, Johnson, Steve Stamkos and Valtteri Filppula; a solid top-six defense in Stralman, Garrison, Victor Hedman, Matt Carle, Radko Gudas and Eric Brewer; better depth in goal (important, as things fell apart in the playoffs once Bishop went down and Anders Lindback was forced into duty) and a Jack Adams finalist behind the bench in Jon Cooper.

Yzerman was careful not to get too excited following all his moving and shaking this summer. But he couldn’t deny being happy with how the plan came together.

“We like the moves that we’ve made,” he said. “I’m cautiously optimistic and I like what we’ve been able to do and I’m pleased.”