The Philadelphia Flyers surprisingly placed Sam Gagner on waivers — instead of maybe R.J. Umberger or Scott Laughton — to make room for Mark Streit and his return from LTIR. The Bruins, meanwhile, have learned that David Krejci is out week-to-week with an upper body injury. In other related news, the Bruins’ bottom 3 centers are now probably Ryan Spooner, Landon Ferraro, and Max Talbot. See where I’m going with this?
Gagner is a center whose best year saw him accrue 38 points in the lockout-shortened 48 game season of 2013. Since then, he’s consistently been slightly above half a point per game… except for this year. Gagner’s career has generally been a story of “Good CorsiRel, bad/mediocre CorsiOn,” which us totally reasonable for a guy who’s played several years with the Edmonton Oilers in his early 20s. This year, though, both his CorsiRel and CorsiOn numbers are both definitively in the negatives, and he has a whopping 5 points in 18 games.
I know what you’re thinking: “Why the hell do we want a center with 5 points in 18 games? We already went through that with Gregory Campbell last year!” That’s fair, and if your Campbell PTSD makes you automatically disagree with me here, I understand. But do the Bruins really have anything to lose here? Krejci is out for the next few weeks, and it looks like it’ll be 24 days at the very least since the Bruins were quick to put him on IR, the LTIR threshold is 24 days, and getting some LTIR relief from Krejci’s $7.25 million contract would be very useful at the trade deadline. Why not bring in Gagner, take a few weeks to see if a new environment will do him any good, and move on from there?
Gagner has a $3.2 million cap hit on a contract that expires after this season. The title of my post is “Trade for” Gagner and not “Pick up Gagner on waivers” because i highly doubt that the B’s will absorb all of his remaining contract money right now, and I don’t blame them for balking at that. They’d be especially smart to let Gagner pass through waivers considering that Philly might trade Gagner for absolutely nothing. The Flyers only receive $950,000 of salary relief by placing Gagner on their AHL team. Gagner has about $1.7-1.8 million of that contract left for this season because the team has already played 36 of 82 games. So here’s an idea: Why not have the Bruins trade basically nothing (maybe some Jordan Caron-type dude who was a once though of as a “prospect” but now doesn’t have a high ceiling) and agree to pay $1 million of Gagner’s salary? Then the Flyers are only on the hook for $700-800k, so they save some coin and get rid of the Gagner headache in one fell swoop?
The B’s get a center that they can take a flier on, and if he sucks, they can bury him in the AHL and get $950,000 in relief. By that point, the money on Gagner’s contract would probably be less than $950,000 anyway, depending on how much of the salary the Flyers eat. For the next few weeks until #46 returns, the Bruins would take a shot at a potentially valuable center (maybe even trade him at the deadline if his market value becomes inflated and they have too many forwards to keep them all), and they can shift Ryan Spooner out of his center position, which should prevent about 12 or 13 heart attacks in the Boston area.
Update: He Cleared Waivers. So now it’s official that the Bruins could and should trade for him.