GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — The Arizona Coyotes did not wait long to find a new center.
Arizona acquired center Sam Gagner from Tampa Bay on Sunday night, about 90 minutes after the Lightning picked him up in a trade with Edmonton Oilers and two days after the Coyotes parted ways with Mike Ribeiro.
“It’s been a roller coaster of emotions,” Gagner said on a conference call from his home in Muskoka, Ontario. “I was talking to my agent, and he had said when Tampa traded for me that there might be something else going on. So it was something that I was prepared for. I wasn’t really expecting to be traded (again) today.”
Arizona also acquired right wing B.J. Crombeen in the deal that sent a sixth-round pick to Tampa Bay.
“It came together in a hurry,” Coyotes general manager Don Maloney said.. “I think there’s three of us that feel pretty good about our day so far. …
“We are very pleased to acquire a talented, young center like Sam Gagner. “He has the intelligence, character and skill set we were looking for and we believe he has further growth in his game. We look forward to welcoming Sam to Arizona.”
The Coyotes thought they had the playmaking center they had coveted last offseason, signing Ribeiro to a four-year, $22 million deal.
It didn’t pan out.
Ribeiro had an inconsistent season, finishing with 16 goals and 31 assists while struggling with personal problems. He also was a healthy scratch in two key road games late in the season.
Arizona initiated a buyout of Ribeiro’s contract on Friday, citing “behavioral issues.”
Gagner should be a solid replacement.
The No. 6 pick in the 2007 draft, he had 10 goals and 27 assists in 67 games last season while battling through injuries.
“I hold myself to higher standards than that,” Gagner said.
He had 101 goals and 194 assists in 481 games in seven seasons with the Oilers.
“We didn’t have much success as a team and there’s going to be a lot of changes that come from that,” Gagner said.
The 24-year-old Gagner is under contract for two more years with a salary-cap hit of $4.8 million, though the Lightning agreed to take on a third of his salary.
Arizona also picked up a gritty veteran in Crombeen, who had three goals, seven assists and 70 penalty minutes in 55 games for Tampa Bay last season. He has 31 goals, 43 assists and 771 penalty minutes in 387 games in seven seasons with Dallas, St. Louis and Tampa Bay.
“B.J. is a great fit for us,” Maloney said. “He is a big, strong, character player who will be a leader on the ice and in our locker room.”
Gagner went to Tampa Bay in a deal that sent left wing Teddy Purcell to Edmonton.
The 28-year-old Purcell had 12 goals and 30 assists in 81 games last season. In 401 games in seven seasons with Los Angeles and Tampa Bay, he has 75 goals and 153 assists.
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