2014 NHL Trade Deadline: A Second Gagner In Dallas?

Jeff Gross

Would Gagner Jr. be a fit for the Stars?

The Edmonton Oilers have seemingly been shopping Sam Gagner all season. Any time the phrase trade rumor is uttered on the internet it seems like Gagner's name isn't too far behind. As we have discussed, the Stars do have a need for a second line center. Does Gagner fit, and how much of an improvement is he to the current Stars core?

The answer to that question is "it depends". Is Gagner a player who still has a big upside at 24, or is he an almost 500 game NHL veteran who will rarely, if ever, crack 20 goals? The answer to that question will determine how many teams have interest and how much they are willing to pay.

The ideal situation for a team acquiring Gagner is that the Oilers are seeking a package suggesting he is what he is, and the acquiring team's scouts see him with more untapped potential. Gagner strikes me as the type of young forward the Stars would be interested in acquiring if the price is reasonable.

Gagner isn't a particularly fast player. He isn't a very big player. He's a playmaker. The Stars forward corps is quite a bit better this season, but an extra dash of playmaking ability would do the group well. The second power play unit could definitely use a playmaking boost for the stretch run too.

The problem though is that it's hard to justify dreaming on Gagner. Last season Gagner had a pretty big breakout in the lockout shortened season. Sam had 38 points in only 48 games. Then the Oilers canned coach Ralph Krueger. This season he dropped back to about his normal production. Some of the drop can be explained by a huge drop in his shooting percentage, but not all of it.

Gagner doesn't face particularly tough matchups either so one has to wonder how he would fit in with what the Stars are trying to do. Acquiring Gagner isn't going to take the heat off of Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn. He would likely come in and face the easiest minutes of the Stars top three lines.

For the Stars to acquire Gagner they would need to be sold that he has more upside left in him. The spike in production with Krueger suggests there could be extra offense in the total package, but how much is that worth? I wouldn't expect the Stars to be willing to trade a huge package for a player like Gagner at this point, but I've been wrong before.

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