What should the Vancouver Canucks do with Sam Gagner?

VANCOUVER, BC - MARCH 27: Sam Gagner #89 of the Vancouver Canucks looks on from the bench during their NHL game against the Anaheim Ducks at Rogers Arena March 27, 2018 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)"n
VANCOUVER, BC - MARCH 27: Sam Gagner #89 of the Vancouver Canucks looks on from the bench during their NHL game against the Anaheim Ducks at Rogers Arena March 27, 2018 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)"n /

When Sam Gagner signed his three-year deal with the Canucks two Summers ago, he did not expect to find himself living at home in Toronto in his parent’s house during only the second year of the contract. The Canucks need to do something with Gagner eventually. 

Sam Gagner signed a deal worth $9.45 million dollars with the Vancouver Canucks on July 1, 2017. He was signed to help out the power play, which is where he scored a vast majority of the 50 points he tallied with the Columbus Blue Jackets during the 2016-17 season.

The 2017 free agent signing was made to fill the gap between the time when players like Nikolay Goldobin were actually ready to play at the NHL level. Goldobin looked ready out of training camp just a season after the signing.

When asked about putting young players in the lineup prior to the 2017-18 season, then newly-hired head coach Travis Green said, “We’ve said that we want to get younger. But it’s a fine line between throwing guys into the water- into the deep end before they’re ready to swim.”

While it’s great to see fast, young players flying up and down the ice, it’s also nice to see them be able to do the little things as well. Whether or not they should learn how to do the little things in the NHL rather than the minors, is up for debate.

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The only problem was, Elias Pettersson and Goldobin came into camp this year and both looked ready to play in the NHL. General manager Jim Benning himself even said that younger players like Goldobin outperformed Gagner at training camp.

We all know what happened next. Gagner was sent down to the minors and was loaned to the Toronto Marlies so he could at least be close to his family. Classy move by management, but nonetheless, a surprise for Gagner.

I really liked this move by management when Gagner was first sent down. They said time and time again that if young guys outplayed older players, they would make room for the young guys in the lineup.

They stuck to their word and that became another reason on the growing list of why I like Jim Benning as our GM.

Gagner tallied seven goals and eight assists in 15 games played with the Marlies. Good enough to receive a call-up to the Vancouver Canucks on November 18th.

Gagner looked solid when he came up. He didn’t do anything spectacular, but he was solid during the games he did play. He participated in the super skills competition and even brought his son along, who was smiling the entire time.

That’s when the second demotion came. Just a few days after the super skills competition, Gagner was sent down. I felt for Gagner this time around because he was actually playing well at the time of being sent down for the second time this season.

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After his second demotion, Gagner voiced his frustration and confusion with the decision. I personally don’t think there’s a spot in this lineup for Gagner, but there’s surely a spot for him in the press box, and he could easily slot into games when the team needs a little more offense. Who he would get swapped out for on the roster is up for debate, but I feel like it would have to be a low-impact player such as Tim Schaller.

I personally have been a big fan of a lot of the moves Jim Benning and management have made since taking over after the firing of Mike Gillis in 2014. However, sending Gagner down for a second time despite playing well during his short stint with the Canucks this season, is not one that it is easy to justify to my fellow Canucks fans, many of whom disagree with my defending of the moves management has made.

The options are limited, but I think it’s come to the point where all the Canucks really can do is trade Gagner. After reports that the Chicago Blackhawks and Edmonton Oilers were both interested in acquiring Gagner, the Canucks should definitely look at making a deal. The return for Gagner won’t be much, but currently, his contract is being buried in the minors and he’s playing for another team’s farm team. What are the Canucks really losing?

Toronto Maple Leafs center John Tavares said that he thinks Gagner deserves to be in the NHL, and clearly feels a sense of camaraderie for his longtime friend. Gagner obviously feels the same way, and I am certain that Gagner would welcome the idea of a trade away from the Canucks.

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We as fans can only wait and see what happens with Gagner, and although pulling off a trade that makes sense for both sides is much easier said than done, it seems to be the best thing for Gagner and the Canucks at this time.