The Red Wings Need to Bring Sam Gagner Back Next Season.

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Sam Gagner has been a solid bottom six center for the Red Wings and needs to be kept on the team for at least one more season.

Since being traded to the Red Wings at the trade deadline of the 2019-2020 season, Sam Gagner has been a solid addition to the team. Although the remainder of that season was cut short, Gagner has put up some good numbers as a bottom six center in the last two seasons here in Detroit.

According to Sam’s statistics from NHL.com In the 2021-2022 season Sam had 13 goals and 18 assists for 31 points while playing 81 games. A year earlier in 2020-2021 season he had 7 goals and 8 assists scoring 15 points in 42 games putting him on a similar scoring pace as this year.

With what will almost certainly be a better team next year it is unlikely that Sam puts in a lesser performance next year. If he gets to play with some better defensemen behind him helping set up goals I could see him having an even better season than he did this year.

What does Sam Gagner bring to the team beyond the stat numbers?

Watching Sam Gagner on the ice it is clear that he plays a leadership role in the lines that he centers. He is a 15 year veteran of the league and has played for 5 other teams before joining the Red Wings. Experience like that can really help the youngers players around him get up to speed.

Sam is getting on the older end of the league as he will be 33 years old by the time next season kicks off, so the best way to go here is to sign him to a one or two year contract. He is already familiar with the guys that play on the third and fourth line.

Bringing in someone else adds some uncertainty that won’t be there with Gagner. At this time the guys that play with him in the bottom six will likely be the same as this year so they should at least be able to pick up where they left off, likely getting better.

Does it make sense to keep Gagner from a financial standpoint given the current salary cap situation?

I think that it absolutely makes sense to keep Gagner around from a salary cap perspective. According to capfriendly.com his cap hit for the 2021-2022 season is $850k which is a great price for the production that he has had. Looking at other free agent centers in the same price range and the only one with comparable points is Ryan Donato.

In an article I wrote about what to do with fellow UFA Vladislav Namestnikov that you can find here I listed some possible free agents that could fill Vlady’s shoes. The only player that is in the same cap hit range as Gagner with comparable points in Nicholas Paul from Tampa. With the season that Paul has had he will likely be looking for more money next year.

Even if the Red Wings were to give Gagner a raise to $1M he would still be a quality team member at a great price. With Danny DeKeyser almost certainly not coming back there will be $5M available which could give Sam a bump in pay and bring in a defenseman that would be able to help on the offensive end.

What do you think of Sam Gagner returning to the Red Wings next year?

In my opinion, bringing Sam Gagner back for another season is an easy choice. He is a solid veteran who can help ensure some good production from the third and fourth lines with the leadership that comes with his experience. What do all of you think about this? Is there someone else that should be signed instead? Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below!

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