Sunday was a busy day for Sam Gagner. He was traded not once, but twice. Starting the day with the Edmonton Oilers; he first headed to the Tampa Bay Lightning, then was shipped to the Arizona Coyotes before he even had the chance to pack his bags for sunny Florida.
“It’s been a roller coaster of emotions,” said Gagner. “I was talking to my agent, and he had said when Tampa [Bay] traded for me that there might be something else going on. So it was something that I was prepared for. I wasn’t really expecting to be traded (again) today.”
In a span of two hours, the 24-year-old Gagner was first moved to the Lightning in exchange for forward Teddy Purcell; he then was flipped to Arizona, along with forward B.J. Crombeen, in exchange for a sixth-round selection in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft.
For Edmonton, they no longer had room for Gagner amongst their top-six forwards after selecting German pivot Leon Draisaitl with the third pick in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft on Friday. In Purcell they were able to add both grit and skill on the wing, and a player who can play on any line.
For the Coyotes, they were looking to add a playmaking center to replace Mike Ribeiro. The 34-year-old Ribeiro was bought out by the Coyotes on Friday, who cited “behavioral issues.”
“Sam has the intelligence, character and skill set we were looking for and we believe he has further growth in his game,” said Coyotes GM Don Maloney in a statement.
For Tampa Bay, the move was simply a cash dump. While they did agree to pick up 1/3 of the remaining salary on Gagner’s contract (a move that will see them pay $1.6 million in each of the next two seasons); the move will still open up significant cap space. In addition to moving Gagner, Purcell and Crombeen; the Lightning freed up more space in another trade on Sunday; a move that saw them ship forward Nate Thompson to the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for a fourth-round and a seventh-round selection in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft.
“We cleared out some cap space and cash to hopefully do something on July 1. If not on July 1, for the future,” said Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman. “We are in position right now, whether it’s first in free agency, to try and improve our team.”
In total, the Lightning were able to free up $5.65 million in cap space; which was made necessary after the team re-signed forward Ryan Callahan to a deal that will carry a cap hit of $5.8 million per season, and traded for defenseman Jason Garrison, who has an annual cap hit of $4.6 million. According to Cap Geek, Tampa Bay now has a total of $9,573,365 in cap space.