On Saturday night the Flyers traded Nicklas Grossmann ($500,000 retained) and Chris Pronger to the Arizona Coyotes for Sam Gagner and a conditional fourth-round draft pick in 2016 or a third round draft pick in 2017.
Gagner, 25, broke into the league as an 18-year old with the Edmonton Oilers where he put up 49 points, an amount he hasn’t been able to match since. The natural center, who was used as a right wing at times in Arizona, led the Coyotes forwards in points with 41 this season, 2 points back from point leader Oliver Ekman-Larsson who had 43. We’re not sure what the Flyers plans are for Gagner, but there is strong suggestion that Gagner’s time as a Flyer could already be over.
Hextall won’t commit that he will keep Gagner. Says it gets team “closer” but doesnt solve cap issues
— Tim Panaccio (@tpanotchCSN) June 27, 2015
If the Flyers were to buy him out, they’d save $2.7M since the buyout would be split between them and the Tampa Bay Lighting, as explained here using the buyout calculator via CapFriendly. When Gagner was traded to Arizona from Tampa Bay, Tampa took on $1.6 million of Gagner’s contract. With the %split that would come with a Flyers buyout, the Lightning would also benefit, gaining a bit more cap space.
When Gagner was traded to Arizona from Tampa Bay, Tampa took on $1.6 million of Gagner’s contract. With the %split that would come with a Flyers buyout, the Lightning would also benefit, gaining a bit more cap space.
Would imagine that TBL would welcome Gagner buyout. Would reduce current year cap hit from $1.6M to $211,111, but add $277,778 next year.
— General Fanager (@generalfanager) June 27, 2015
While this is definitely an option the Flyers may go with, just for the sake of clearing cap space (which Hextall has a pension for), I believe they could use someone like Gagner on the team. With a $3.2M cap hit for just next season, there’s really no risk to keeping him and seeing what he can do here. You could make the argument that he had a better season than Brayden Schenn, who had the luxury of playing with higher skilled players like Claude Giroux and Jake Voracek at times. Gagner hasn’t exactly had the chance to play with a higher skill roster.
Just four Flyers averaged a better P60 (points per 60 minutes) than Gagner and just two had more total points (Giroux and Voracek). Gagner also had both the lowest PDO (on-ice save % + on-ice shot %) of the group making it not much of a stretch to think that he could put up better numbers next season. He also had the 2nd lowest PSh% (personal shooting %) of his career at 5.8% (Lowest was 5.7% in 2013-2014). While he’s never played left wing on a consistent basis, it’s plausible to think that Hakstol would try to use him on the left side if he remains here in Philadelphia.
On the opposite side of that argument, the Flyers have two players who are UFA’s this year (Chris VandeVelde and Ryan White) and two who will be UFA’s next season (Jakub Voracek and Michael Raffl) so a bit of extra cap space would be helpful in retaining those players. (And helping finance Voracek’s inevitable raise next season). Whether they decide keep Gagner or not, this trade is still a positive for the Flyers as they moved a bottom pairing defenseman with a $3.5M cap hit and got a 4th round pick out of it. They also pulled off one of the most unlikely trades we’ve ever seen, clearing some cap space for players like Ryan White to be re-signed.