Rumor: Gagner and Omark Available
I’ve heard from two different people today that the Oilers are shopping Sam Gagner and Linus Omark in an effort to acquire a Top 4 puck-moving defenseman. In respect to both players, they are being made available because of the depth the Oilers have, and the team’s need to get bigger up front.
Specific to Gagner, Nugent-Hopkins looks like the long-term #1 center, Shawn Horcoff will play in the #2 role because his contract is impossible to move, Eric Belanger is needed in the #3 role for face-offs and penalty killing, and Anton Lander, who looks like the future #2 center, fits well for now as a 4th line center who can do a bit of everything. After last season’s defensive troubles, Oilers management are being extra careful to ensure the roster features players who can play two-way minutes. Gagner’s got offensive skill, but he’s not so good at face-offs or defensive play. I don’t think the Oilers can have their #1 and #2 centers both be bad in the face-off circle (while Nuge is pretty smart defensively, he’s terrible on the dot right now).
Linus Omark is already in the coach’s dog box for his play against the Penguins. However, his availability in a deal might more be a product of what Ales Hemsky showed playing with Nugent-Hopkins. If Hemsky is healthy and productive, he might just get a long-term deal and might just stick around for the next five years. With Eberle being a lock as the team’s other Top 6 RW, Omark becomes a square peg in a round hole for the third line. Perhaps the Oilers are thinking Teemu Hartikainen is a better long term fit because of his size and work ethic? I’d think so.
Teams the Oilers are talking to include the Toronto Maple Leafs (Franson), Ottawa Senators (one of Rundblad or Cowen), Winnipeg Jets (Bogosian), Phoenix (Klesla or OEL) and Carolina (McBain). I wouldn’t be surprised if the LA Kings and Voynov become part of the discussion as well.