The Red Wings re-signed Sam Gagner to a 1-year, $850,000 contract extension today. It’s a ridiculously affordable signing which provides the Red Wings with a “veteran” leader who isn’t ancient at 31 years of age, and when Gagner himself spoke with the media regarding his re-signing, he emphasized points that summarize his status as effectively a “playing coach” as well as a useful 3rd line center who can contribute on the power play.
The Free Press posted a video of Gagner’s Zoom call…
And the Free Press’s Helene St. James posted some of Gagner’s remarks…
“I can bring some leadership and veteran experience,” Gagner said on a Zoom call Saturday. “I can play on the power play as a right shot. It was great talking to Steve through this process and I’m excited to get back and get going and show what I’m capable of as a player.”
Yzerman was not made available to media.
Gagner was speaking from Edmonton, where he lives in the offseason with his wife and children. He returned shortly after the season was paused. He spent less than three weeks with the Wings, scoring one goal and making it clear part of his appeal is he can show young players how to be a good pro.
“I think I’ve handled a lot of adversity in my career and you grow from that,” Gagner said. “I think I can be a lot of help in that area for young players. I’d be doing the team a disservice if I wasn’t pushing as hard as I could to be an important part of the lineup every night.
As did the Detroit News’s Nolan Bianchi…
He’ll fill a much-needed role as a right-handed shot on a Detroit power play that finished 29th in the league a season ago, converting on just 14.9-percent of its chances.
“I think that me being a right shot kind of adds a different dynamic to that power play, so that’s something I think I can help,” Gagner said, adding that he sees potential to improve with the pieces in place.
“Having [Anthony] Mantha healthy toward the end there certainly helped. I think the more chemistry we got, the easier our reads are, and the more repetitions you get, the better off it becomes. I’m excited about the opportunity to continue to help in that area.”
And, perhaps most importantly, the cost is low, and the term is short. Still, Gagner said that when he was brought in by Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman, conversations surrounded the idea of Gagner having “an opportunity to be a part of things long-term.”
“It was great talking to Steve through this process,” Gagner said. He added that even though he was only here for a short amount of time, “I really enjoyed the three weeks I was there playing, and I’m looking forward to coming back to show what I’m capable of as a player.”
“I thought I was treated really well, personally, and my family as well,” Gagner said. “That’s something that’s really important, that you really value as you go along in your career and start raising a family, how the organization treats your family and treats you as a player. I think you look at the new arena, the staff, everything, the guys in the room. It was a really short time … but I really enjoyed the three weeks I was there playing and looking forward to coming back and getting an opportunity to show what I’m capable of as a player and looking forward to helping the group.”
The Red Wings signed Gagner, a 31-year-old forward, to a one-year, $850,000 contract on Saturday. The 13-year NHL veteran appeared in only six games (one goal, no assists) after being acquired from the Edmonton Oilers at the trade deadline, along with a pair of second-round picks, for Andreas Athanasiou and prospect Ryan Kuffner.
Gagner could have explored the market on Oct. 9 but knew when the season was paused in March that the Red Wings had interest.
“When I first got traded there, we had talked about the fact there was an opportunity to be part of things longer-term,” Gagner said. “I just wanted to put my best foot forward and give everything I had in the short time I was there. I thought I played well, I thought I played hard. It’s a good group of guys in a tough circumstance.”
Due to the pandemic, there is still uncertainty as to when camp will begin and when the regular season will be able to get underway so Gagner has made adjustments to his offseason routine.
“It’s been so long I’ve tried to break it up into three different offseasons,” Gagner said. “The first one being we weren’t sure if we were going to come back to play so I was just preparing as if we were going to be in the bubble so I was in good shape at that point. Then I took a little time off. Then kind of as playoffs progressed, started training hard again and I’ll probably take another break once we figure out kind of what next season’s going to look like and try and figure out the best way to go about getting ready for the season. I feel if the season were to start tomorrow, I’d be ready but there’s still a long time yet. Gotta try and make sure that you’re coming into the season ready to go and looking forward to whenever that may be.”