Vancouver Canucks: Why Sam Gagner has to be traded

VANCOUVER, BC - MARCH 29: Sam Gagner
VANCOUVER, BC - MARCH 29: Sam Gagner /

Sam Gagner disappointed in his first year with the Vancouver Canucks, and general manager Jim Benning has to find a way to deal out the 28-year-old veteran as he makes room for younger players.

The Vancouver Canucks needed more speed, a good right-hand shot and a versatile forward to address a number of their weaknesses last season.

That’s why general manager Jim Benning signed forward Sam Gagner to a three-year deal worth $9.45 million. The speedster was coming off a career best 18-goal, 50-point season with the Columbus Blue Jacket, and seemed like an ideal fit in Vancouver.

But the London, Ont. native couldn’t find his footing at all in 2017-18, finishing with just 10 goals and 31 points. Gagner couldn’t generate chemistry with any of his linemates, and the 47.1 Corsi For percentage left a lot to be desired.

The Canucks did get significant contributions from many of their young players, however, and there are more prospects that will make the team next season.

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Obviously, Bo Horvat and Brock Boeser front the offence up front. Jake Virtanen and Adam Gaudette should also play bigger roles next season, and it’s not crazy to think Elias Pettersson and Jonathan Dahlen can also make the team.

Factor in all of this, and the Canucks have a very easy decision: Trade Sam Gagner.

Thankfully, Benning didn’t give Gagner a horrible contract like he did to Loui Eriksson, so the former is very tradable. And Gagner can still be a solid second-line contributor, it’s just not going to happen in Vancouver.

With just two years left at $3.15 million per season (according to, Gagner carries a fairly cheap contract and can help a team in desperation of secondary scoring.

There are lots of teams that could use Gagner. The Chicago Blackhawks will want a veteran scorer to complement Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, especially with their championship window rapidly closing.

The Calgary Flames and Montreal Canadiens could also use another speedy winger/power play specialist up front. Why not a reunion with the Edmonton Oilers? Perhaps the Jackets look at bringing back Gagner, especially if Thomas Vanek is lost in free agency?

Gagner would be useful to so many playoff/Stanley Cup contenders, and he deserves a fresh start with a better team. It didn’t work in Vancouver, and it’d be ideal for the Canucks to move out his contract and clear a little more cap space.

With Boeser, Horvat, Virtanen, Gaudette, Brandon Sutter, Markus Granlund and Sven Baertschi taking up the top spots (perhaps Pettersson and Dahlen as well), Gagner won’t get the chance to shine here on the west coast.

Next: Canucks prospects that need more seasoning

And with that, it’s an easy decision for Benning to trade Gagner. Clear cap space, land a draft pick or prospect and make room for the younger forwards next season. It only makes sense for Gagner to be traded this offseason, but whether the front office sees it the same way is another story.