Sam Gagner with the Oilers at practice
Photo credit:

Oilers GM Ken Holland makes a bizarre statement on Sam Gagner

Published March 12, 2024 at 8:38 PM

The Edmonton Oilers are right up against the salary cap, so any significant trades the team made this year would have to require moving on from a player. Multiple insiders reported that the Oilers were exploring upgrades for Cody Ceci on defence, but had to stop their plans because core players demanded Ken Holland to not trade him. However, then the Oilers sent Sam Gagner to the minors, and Ken Holland can't explain why.

«It can't be a popularity contest sometimes, unfortunately,» said Holland. «Sam is going to be back. At the very latest, he'll be back when the cap counting ends, depending on how much cap space we've got left, and if we accrue space, maybe sooner.»

Holland admits that he's solely sending down Gagner for cap space purposes, recognizing that he's a fan-favourite player but explaining that the decision is necessary. It's still questionable however, as Gagner has been an incredibly secondary scorer in limited minutes this season, much more so than other players. It's not his popularity, but his skill that demands him in the lineup. Since Corey Perry entered the Oilers lineup, Coach Knoblauch is clearly looking for a different fit than Gagner, who's been a consistent healthy scratch.

So while Holland says it can't be a popularity contest with Gagner, he also relents to not upgrade the defence because Cody Ceci is liked in the locker room. We'll have to see how it plays out, but the smart thing to do is to ice the best roster possible in the playoffs, not try to maintain locker room chemistry. While the Oilers rivals in Vegas, Vancouver, and Winnipeg made big moves, the Oilers had the most underwhelming deadline for a year in McDavid's prime.

Regardless of their trade deadline moves though, this team has proven it has the talent and consistency to make a run in the playoffs - bow they just need to complete it.
March 12   |   871 answers
Oilers GM Ken Holland makes a bizarre statement on Sam Gagner

Should Gagner still be with the team?

Yes, he's one of their best bottom six players59468.2 %
No, doesn't fit the team anymore21124.2 %
See Results667.6 %
Latest 10 stories