Sam Gagner gets short end of the stick as Oilers prepare for a trade

As much as Sam Gagner can consider himself unlucky to be placed on waivers, there are a number of reasons why it was a necessary move for the Edmonton Oilers.

Edmonton Oilers v Tampa Bay Lightning
Edmonton Oilers v Tampa Bay Lightning / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages
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Tuesday was an eventful day for the Edmonton Oilers, primarily because they came from behind late on to beat the Boston Bruins 2-1 in overtime. It was a statement victory versus one of the top teams in the NHL, on the road no less.

However, there was also an intriguing development for the Oilers off the ice, earlier in the day. As confirmed by the team on social media, Sam Gagner has been placed on waivers.

Initially, there may well be a sizeable portion of the Oilers fan base which finds this move harsh, towards one of the team's more popular players. Brought back on a deal for the league minimum of $775,000, he's done whatever's been asked of him during his third tour of duty in Edmonton.

All about the team

However, as the 34-year-old is someone who has the mentality of doing what's best for the sake of the team, the decision to place him on waivers is in reality also what's best for the Oilers. More specifically, it's about preparing for a potential trade ahead of the 1 p.m. MT deadline on Friday.

In this respect, consider the comments of Sports 1440's Jason Gregor on social media. He wrote: "Oilers have placed Gagner on waivers. Likely done today so If they need to add a player before deadline then can send Gagner down immediately without needing 24 hours to clear."

Gagner's third tenure with the Oilers couldn't have got off to a better start, as he scored two goals in his debut, albeit in a 4-3 loss to the Dallas Stars. He proved to be quite useful to begin with as he added hard work and leadership to the bottom six, in the process producing nine points in 18 games.

Since then however, the 2007 sixth overall draft pick has done little on the ice, with just one point in his past nine games. Although in fairness he's had less opportunities to contribute since the turn of the year, in part due to the addition of Corey Perry.

Why Gagner?

There will be those who wonder why another player was not placed on waivers instead of Gagner? However, as per the Oilers' renewed -- and much needed -- dedication to their defensive play, he offers less value than most in this respect, including on the penalty kill.

Yes, there is of course still value to producing points -- something which Gagner can do better than some of the other players who could have been placed on waivers -- but it doesn't matter if you can't stop the other team. Consider last season, when the Oilers led the NHl in scoring, but were still ousted in the second round of the playoffs by the Vegas Golden Knights, due to their poor defensive game.

Earlier this season the Oilers were in disarray defensively, at one point having the worst team save percentage and allowing the second-most goals in the NHL. However, thanks in large part to the influence of coach Kris Knoblauch they are now more solid at their own end of the ice, with the 10th-lowest goals against average and tied-13th best save percentage ahead of Wednesday's slate of games.

Next. Oilers' potential trade deadline move with Blue Jackets. Oilers' potential trade deadline move with Blue Jackets. dark

There is a chance that Gagner will be claimed off waivers, which would be a shame for everyone connected to the Oilers. However, it's a risk Ken Holland and company have deemed justified, as they look to upgrade the roster and improve their chances of winning the Stanley Cup for the first time since 1990.

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