Columbus Signs Sam Gagner to a One-Year Deal
Fantasy Impact: The Columbus Blue Jackets sign free agent forward Sam Gagner to a one-year contract.
The Blue Jackets get: A once-hyped veteran centerman who has failed to live up to his potential across many NHL stops.
Fantasy Players Impacted: This is technically a positive for Gagner as he has not only managed to land another NHL gig but finds himself on a team without a bonafide #1 center. However, Gagner’s extensive history suggests that even if things work out perfectly, he will max out below the 50-point mark.
Instead, what Gagner’s presence does is muddy the waters for Columbus’ youth movement. Oliver Bjorkstrand left an impression with a 12-game cameo in which he scored eight points. Bjorkstrand likely remains on the wing but he nonetheless has a little more competition.
Columbus has also had Boone Jenner playing a fair amount of center over the past couple of seasons. Bringing in Gagner opens up the possibility of moving Jenner to wing full time, which clogs the pecking order already stocked with Brandon Saad, Matt Calvert, Cam Atkinson, Nick Foligno and Scott Hartnell (though Hartnell remains trade bait). Bjorkstrand could find himself outside the top nine if Jenner is on the wing full-time.
Bjorkstrand should be considered too good to be kept down but this is a team coached by John Tortorella so we have to throw notions of talent out the window.
Alexander Wennberg has been making strides at the center position the past couple of seasons but now has more competition. He did not appear ready to breakout, however, so the addition of Gagner may not be that much of a hindrance.
The Blue Jackets made waves at the draft by bucking the consensus and selecting Pierre-Luc Dubois with the third pick, presumably to be their centerman of the future. Adding Gagner makes it all the more unlikely Dubois jumps to the NHL this season. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing for Dubois’ development as rushing him to play hero for a struggling club could set him back long term. Still, fantasy owners generally benefit when their prospects make the leap sooner than expected and Gagner’s signing reduces that possibility.
Read more on Bjorkstrand here.
Read more on Dubois here.
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