The Edmonton Oilers and center Sam Gagner avoided arbitration on Friday with a 1-year, $3.2 million extension. This is a very good thing for all involved.
For the Oilers, it's a deal that's not inflated by the purchasing of UFA years and one that leaves Gagner as a restricted free agent again next summer. It secures his services as the second-line center for an explosive top six, and leaves him hungry to improve his numbers for a larger, long-term deal.
That's an acceptable risk for Gagner. The Oilers, in theory, are going to be a better hockey team next season; if his numbers improve with them, his next contract will reflect that. At the same time, Edmonton isn't locked into a number with Gagner that will impact the sophomore contracts for Jordan Eberle and Taylor Hall; in fact, their deals will likely determine Gagner's.
Win/win, all the way here.
Ryan Batty of Copper and Blue hopes these short-term contracts combined with long-term deals for the "franchise" players is indicative of a organizational philosophy:
If this is a team philosophy and not just a coincidence it's something that has the potential to work out very well for the Oilers because it gives them a ton of flexibility from season to season and with a new CBA coming this fall (hopefully) they could find themselves very well positioned to benefit from any changes that might be coming down the pipe.
I have said repeatedly that the teams that best control the CBA give themselves a better opportunity to win. This isn't something I've generally felt that the Oilers have done well but if this new way of thinking is in fact by design, it is almost certainly the smartest thing Steve Tambellini has done during his tenure as the Oilers GM.
Where's the bar set on that achievement, incidentally?