For the better part of the Dave Tippett era with the Coyotes the team has been searching for offense.
The team had signed veteran Mike Ribeiro prior to last season with the hopes that he would bring some scoring punch, but things didn’t go as planned and the team bought out his contract Friday afternoon.
So, over the weekend, the Coyotes swung a deal for a replacement.
And in Sam Gagner, they landed a 24-year-old center who is coming off a down year but has shown an ability to put points on the board.
“We are very pleased to acquire a talented, young center like Sam Gagner,” said Coyotes GM Don Maloney in a statement. “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.”
A guest of Bickley and Marotta on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM Monday, Gagner, who was actually dealt twice Sunday, said he believed the whole time he would end up in the Valley, and he thinks it’s a good spot for him.
“I like the way the team’s going and I like the way I’m going to fit, so I think it’s an exciting opportunity for me and I’m looking forward to getting the season started,” he said.
Gagner has played all seven of his NHL seasons for the Edmonton Oilers. The sixth overall selection in the 2007 NHL Draft, he quickly developed into an offensive threat. From his rookie year in 2007 to 2012-13 he tallied 258 points (91 goals, 167 assists) in 414 games. While not a star, he was certainly productive.
However, his play dipped a bit last season, with him posting just 10 goals and 27 assists. But now he gets a fresh start with a team that is more competitive than the one he last played with, which is an appealing prospect for a player who has never appeared in a postseason game.
“I think there’s a lot of great pieces,” he said of his new team. “I’ve had a chance to play against Phoenix a lot in the last little while — I guess Arizona now. But I know that they play a hard style and everybody on the team plays the right way.
“It’s an exciting time for me to get a chance to go a team like that and I’m hoping that I can help them be a contender for years to come.”
That’s the idea.
What Gagner brings to the table is something the Coyotes could definitely use more of.
“I like to play a creative style of game where I’m making the players around me better,” he said of what people can expect from him. “I think that’s something, when I’m really going I’m really looking for two-on-ones all over the ice and trying to use my linemates and make those guys better, too.
“I think that’s what I can bring. I think I can be good on the power play. I’m continually working on being good defensively on both sides of the puck, and I’m excited to come there and add to the already strong group that they have.”