Both Sam Gagner and Brandon Manning cleared waivers on Tuesday afternoon. In addition, the Oilers declined to claim one of the skilled wingers available for free on waivers, electing instead to stand pat. There is a chance the Oilers go the trade route, but odds are what you see is what you will get when it comes to this roster.
The Oil elected to keep Manning on the roster, using him as the seventh defenseman to start the campaign. It isn’t a popular decision, but the club would rather have the veteran Manning sit in the press box as opposed to a prospect like William Lagesson.
My expectation is that Manning will be assigned to AHL Bakersfield within the next week to ten days when Joel Persson is cleared to return to game action.
Gagner, meanwhile, will start his season in the AHL for the second year in a row. He’ll count $2,075,000 against the cap for the Oil while he plays in Bakersfield. The assignment saves the team just over $1 million on the cap.
My expectation for Gagner is that his AHL stint will be short. The Oilers have not closed the door on recalling Gagner, and my money is on him returning to the NHL before October is over.
There will be injuries and players like Tomas Jurco, Joakim Nygard and Gaetan Haas have the potential to struggle in a regular NHL role. Gagner has warts, but he brings skill to the table. The Oilers don’t have enough skill to bury him for the entire season.
Sources also indicate the Oilers are looking at offloading Gagner via the trade route. Although they aren’t desperate to dump him, they are looking at exchanging him for another team’s bad contract. Gagner is in the final year of a free agent contract he signed with the Vancouver Canucks.
Ideally, the club would like to acquire a top-six winger and a top-four defender. Ken Holland confirmed as much when speaking to the media earlier today. Unless they are taking a poor contract back, they won’t be getting that kind of player for Gagner.
The Oilers roster looks just about set. The club will place Kyle Brodziak on LTIR in all likelihood, while Riley Sheahan, Logan Day and Joel Persson all open the season on IR.