The team did not release the financial terms of the deal, but according to Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch it is worth $650,000.
“Sam has scored 350 points and played in 600 games in the NHL and is still a young player who can be a solid contributor on our team,” Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen. “He is a talented, right-handed shot center who will add to our skill and depth at that position.”
It is a low-risk deal that makes a great deal of sense for the Blue Jackets. Even though Gagner never really became a top-line player in the NHL after being the sixth overall pick in the 2007 draft, he still has a lot of offensive ability and until this past season has been a steady 40-point scorer in the NHL with the Edmonton Oilers and Arizona Coyotes. That is second-line production in today’s NHL. His production did drop off significantly this past season in a greatly reduced role as a member of the Philadelphia Flyers where he managed just eight goals and eight assists in 53 games. He also spent some time in the AHL playing for the Lehigh Valley Phantoms during the season.
The Blue Jackets have quite a few big-money contracts going to aging players on their payroll that have pushed them toward the NHL’s salary cap, so adding to a roster that finished with the fourth-worst record in the league this past season and was 19th in goals scored was going to be difficult.
Gagner is, at the very least, a nice bounceback candidate on a contract that carries almost no risk.
The best-case scenario here is they get a potential second-line scorer for almost nothing against the cap. And if it doesn’t work out, they are only out one year $650,000. It is a gamble worth taking.