The Edmonton Oilers cut three more players on Monday afternoon, placing veterans Sam Gagner and Brandon Manning on waivers. The team also assigned defenseman William Lagesson to AHL Bakersfield.
It’s no surprise that Manning, who was waived last winter and finished the season in Bakersfield, was cut. Gagner, acquired from Vancouver in February, is a little more surprising of a cut.
Manning never looked like he had a real shot at a job in training camp. He was consistently a step behind and was outplayed by the likes of Caleb Jones, William Lagesson and Ethan Bear. He doesn’t provide anything offensively, and his defensive game is far too inconsistent.
His lack of a transition game and constant defensive mistakes made this an easy choice for Dave Tippett and Ken Holland. The Oilers are no doubt hoping he gets claimed by a team desperate for defensive help, but the odds aren’t good.
When Manning clears tomorrow, and make no mistake that is the expectation, he’ll carry a $1,175,000 cap hit, per cap friendly.
As for Gagner, this one surprised me a little bit. Gagner had a tough camp, but actually played quite well for the Oilers after coming over via trade last February. He posted ten points (5-5-10) in 25 games and was one of the more skilled players on the roster.
Gagner still has that skill, and I believe is one of the six most skilled forwards on the roster. Clearly, the Oilers do not agree with that assessment. Gagner is not without his faults. He struggles defensively and in the faceoff circle, which likely contributed to today’s decision. The Oilers have to be better without the puck this season.
A case can also be made that Tomas Jurco, considered an afterthought in the summer, has outplayed Gagner and earned a roster spot. That appears to be how the coaching staff sees it too. Jurco combines both speed and skill, something lacking a season ago.
I don’t think it is out of the realm of possibility that Gagner gets claimed. A team like Ottawa, with tons of cap space, could take the risk on Gagner with just one season left on his contract.
In the likely event he does clear, Gagner will count $2,075,000 against the cap.
Should both clear, the Oilers will carry a dead cap hit of $3,250,000. That’s quite a bit of money tied up in two minor league players. The good news? Both are in the final year of their contracts, and both being assigned to Bakersfield will save the club $2,150,000 this season.
As for Lagesson, I’m a little surprised he was assigned to Bakersfield. I thought he played well enough to make the club. The issue? It’s a numbers game and Joel Persson’s injury isn’t that bad. Persson, hurt last Tuesday, was expected to miss a week to ten days. He’s close to returning.
With Ethan Bear stealing a roster spot, there just wasn’t enough room for Lagesson. I don’t think we have seen the last of him in Edmonton this season.