The Oilers and Canucks have swapped underachieving forwards with Edmonton acquiring center Sam Gagner from Vancouver in exchange for forward Ryan Spooner. Both teams have announced the move. It’s the second trade in less than 24 hours for interim Oilers GM Keith Gretzky after shipping goalie Cam Talbot to Philadelphia.
Despite playing a regular role with Vancouver last year that saw him record a respectable 31 points in 74 games, Gagner was somewhat surprisingly waived at the beginning of the season and has spent the majority of 2018-19 at the minor league level on loan with Toronto’s AHL affiliate. The 29-year-old has been productive with the Marlies, posting 12 goals and 25 assists in just 43 games and didn’t fare particularly poorly in a seven-game stint with the Canucks earlier in the year where he picked up three points while averaging over 18 minutes per night.
Meanwhile, this season has been a disastrous one for Spooner. He was able to parlay a strong showing the Rangers last season into a two-year, $8MM deal but things went off the rails early. After being largely a non-factor in New York through 16 games, he was dealt to Edmonton in a one-for-one swap for Ryan Strome where he proceeded to struggle even more. Eventually, the Oilers had enough, sending him through waivers late last month. On the season, he has just five points in 41 NHL games but has been better with AHL Bakersfield, picking up six points in seven contests.
Gagner is also signed through next season and the cap hits are nearly identical. Gagner’s cap hit is at $3.15MM while Spooner is costing Edmonton $3.1MM with the Rangers kicking in the other $900K so if a deal is done, the effects on the salary cap for both teams will be negligible. TSN’s Bob McKenzie adds (Twitter link) that there is no salary retention on either side. Both players could certainly benefit from a change of scenery and now will be getting that opportunity. Notably, Gagner could be in the lineup for Edmonton tonight against the Islanders.