Devils center attention on Oilers' Gagner

Wait, or win? The Devils may have the chance to solidify their patched-up center position, and might have already asked the Oilers about 22-year-old Sam Gagner.

The patience route was tangibly encouraged by Travis Zajac’s visit to practice yesterday, after having already started light solitary skating. It was reminder the Devils’ No. 1 center — the missing righty — could be back by Christmas, although how good he’ll be this season is an open question.

But by keeping top draftee Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, the Oilers have a glut of centers and have shifted Gagner, the 2007 sixth-overall pick, to wing after he returned from one of those difficult high ankle sprains.

The chances for a deal for the righty Gagner depended on the Oilers keeping Nugent-Hopkins. That shot likely now is stalled with Tom Renney’s team on a five-game winning streak.

It was said the Oilers would want young defensive prospects from New Jersey, probably defenseman Matt Taormina, whose No. 20 is now worn by Ryan Carter, and huge Alexander Urbom, both currently in Albany. It would seem they probably also would require a roster winger and draft pick.

Gagner piled up 118 points in 53 games in his lone season in the Ontario league, but was rushed to the NHL and had 49, 41, 41 and 42 points in his four seasons with the Oilers. He’s a gamble, but that’s how a 22-year-old choice draftee comes along.

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