The Toronto Maple Leafs should look at claiming Vancouver Canucks forward, Sam Gagner off of waivers.
Earlier today, Elliotte Friedman tweeted out that the Canucks have decided to waive the 29 year old native of London, Ontario.
Gagner is a former first round pick and a 11 season NHL veteran. He was selected in the first round of the 2007 NHL Entry Draft by the Edmonton Oilers and spent seven seasons in Northern Alberta. After his long tenure with the Oilers, he bounced around from team to team. He spent time with the Arizona Coyotes, Columbus Blue Jackets, Philadelphia Flyers and the Cancuks.
This past season was a rough one for Gagner and it looks like he’ll be re-surfacing on a new team this season. Last season, he registered 10 goals, 21 assists, 11 power-play points, 15:07 ATOI and a 47.01 corsi-for percentage (CF%) in 74 games played.
While his numbers weren’t great last year, I wouldn’t read into them too much. He was playing for a Canucks team that struggled and didn’t have much depth. Gagner was also called upon quite a bit in the defensive zone, which hurt his offensive production. Travis Green, the head coach of the Canucks saw his defensive production from his days in Philadelphia, where Gagner had a 54.8 CF% and must have thought that he could replicate his production in British Columbia. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case.
Gagner Could Be A Solid Fit In Toronto
Yes, Gagner has had a rough season last year, but can we really hold that against him?
I wouldn’t. Just look at Tyler Ennis. Ennis struggled immensely over the past few years, but Kyle Dubas decided to take a chance on him. This preseason, Ennis showed promise and illustrated that he might be able to return to his glory days. While it was preseason hockey, Ennis’ deal wasn’t an over-payment and can be waived or sent down to the AHL at any time.
The same can be said about Gagner. Last season, he posted abysmal Goals/60 and Assists/60, but he could surprise and turn it around in Toronto. Just remember that it wasn’t that long ago when Gagner was an offensive beast in Columbus. In his 2016-17 campaign with the Blue Jackets, he had a rate of 0.63 Goals/60 and 1.39 Assists/60.
The Toronto Maple Leafs are set to have two excellent, offensive minded wingers on their fourth line, so Gagner, even though he is not a traditional defensive centre, would be a great fit on what could be an amazing fourth line.
If Gagner can turn it around with the Toronto Maple Leafs, he can be an asset for the club down the stretch. If he does turn it around, he could also provide the Toronto Maple Leafs with some more depth in case an injuries arise.
All-in-all, it wouldn’t be a terrible idea for Dubas to put down a claim for Gagner. He has potentially to return to his glory days. In addition, he’s buddies with John Tavares and his contract isn’t that bad. The Maple Leafs would own his rights till the end of the 2019-20 campaign and he would only carry a 3.15 million USD cap hit.
stats from NHL.com, hockey-reference.com and naturalstattrick.com