Sam Gagner fits what general manager Steve Yzerman is trying to accomplish with the Detroit Red Wings.
Gagner is a skilled veteran; a former first-round pick who does things right. He brings a right-shot dimension to the offense and the mentality of a mentor to the young players. It’s why the relationship has been extended for a second time, with the Wings re-signing Gagner for one year.
Yzerman has spoken over the past few days of wanting to surround the younger core of the rebuild with veterans. Over the weekend, defenseman Marc Staal was signed to a one-year extension. Keeping the deals short allows for flexibility as the Wings continue to make inroads on regaining competitiveness.
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Gagner, who turns 32 in August, came to the Wings at the 2020 trade deadline from the Edmonton Oilers as part of the package in the Andreas Athanasiou deal. The key pieces were a second-round pick in 2020 and a second-round pick in 2021. (The pick in 2020 became part of a trade that led to the Wings drafted Theodor Niederbach, and the 2021 pick was used to acquire Nick Leddy.)
Gagner emerged as a nice addition. He only played in six games in 2019-20, but he appeared as an inexpensive, right-shot, veteran presence and was signed last September to a one-year extension.
Gagner was one of five Wings who tested positive for COVID-19 a week into last season, forcing him into a 14-day quarantine protocol. He appeared in 42 games, recording seven goals and eight assists.
Part of the appeal in keeping Gagner is the character he brings. He knows what it’s like to come into the league with tremendous pressure, as he was drafted at No. 6 in 2007 by the Oilers. That makes him an ideal mentor for Filip Zadina, who was the No. 6 pick in 2018.
Contact Helene St. James at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @helenestjames. Read more on the Detroit Red Wings and sign up for our Red Wings newsletter. Her book, The Big 50: The Detroit Red Wings is available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Triumph Books. Personalized copies available via her e-mail.
This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Detroit Red Wings extend Sam Gagner for one year