Who should be the Predators’ top target this offseason?

Apr 6, 2017; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Avalanche center Matt Duchene (9) warms up before the game against the Minnesota Wild at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 6, 2017; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Avalanche center Matt Duchene (9) warms up before the game against the Minnesota Wild at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports /
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NEWARK, NJ – MARCH 05: Sam Gagner
NEWARK, NJ – MARCH 05: Sam Gagner /

Option #4

The last great option for the Predators, is center Sam Gagner. Gagner has split time with the Edmonton Oilers, Phoenix Coyotes, Philadelphia Flyers, and most recently, the Columbus Blue Jackets over his ten year NHL career. In seven of his ten seasons, Gagner recorded 40+ points.

Gagner was the 6th overall pick in the 2007 Entry Draft, however he never quite panned out the way Edmonton would’ve liked. In seven seasons in Edmonton, Gagner finished with 295 points. A number that isn’t too bad, however Gagner was hurting the Oilers more than he helped. His plus/minus of -77 in his time there is a testament to his poor defense, that has since improved.

After only recording 16 points two seasons ago with the Flyers in just 53 games, Philadelphia cut Gagner. The Blue Jackets signed Gagner, and gave him a chance that he took full advantage of. He posted his best season with 18 goals, 32 assists, and a +50 rating. Gagner has improved his game greatly since the early stages of his career. This suggests that he is finally ready to be a legitimate NHL center

Gagner has proven that he can be a reliable second or third line center that can give a team 35-50 points a year. That kind of production would be a perfect replacement for Mike Fisher’s usual 40 point campaigns. His offense and defense have both improved greatly, and he would fit well in Mike Fisher’s empty second of third line spot, if that spot was to be vacant next season.

One of the most attractive things about Gagner is his price. Gagner earned a modest $650,000 last year, however that will change. His breakout year will give him the right to demand a raise. However, David Poile is a master negotiator, and would likely be able to offer a reasonable $1.5 million for Gagner. Gagner seems to have finally lived up to his pre-draft hype after ten years. Now we must sit back and see if Poile thinks the same thing.