Flyers’ Sam Gagner ‘can’t play center at NHL level’ says Coyotes GM

Flyers’ Sam Gagner ‘can’t play center at NHL level’ says Coyotes GM

SUNRISE, Fla. – Sam Gagner is now a member of the Philadelphia Flyers after the NHL Draft’s final big move on Saturday, when a team formerly owned by the National Hockey League traded for a league employee and his dead cap space.

Where will he play for the Flyers?

Hopefully not at center. Because according to his former general manager, he kinda sucks at it.

"At the end of the day we just didn't think he could play center at the National Hockey level for us," GM Don Maloney told the Coyotes website. "And (we) thought by moving his money around — we have a couple of young players that can put in his place that we can grow with and so we decided to move on."

Gagner had 15 goals and 26 assists in 81 games for the Coyotes last season.

Now, before this gets thrown into “DON MALONEY SAID SAM GAGNER CAN’T PLAY IN THE NHL!!!” territory, let it be known that he’s just talking about Gagner as a center, not a player. Gagner’s move to right wing last season benefitted the team and the player.

From The Hockey Writers in January:

“While I still like to play at center, the move was good for me,” he said. “This gave me a chance focus on creating chances and not worrying about face-offs. Also, this helped me to really focus on my game.”

The Coyotes need help in the middle, and Gagner’s $3.2 million hit could have been better utilized. Plus he goes UFA next summer, and one assumes the Coyotes would have cut ties anyway.

Besides, the Flyers probably don’t need him playing center anyway. And according to GM Ron Hextall, he might not even be on the Flyers next season, via CSN Philly:

In all, the Flyers save a tad over $5 million in salary, yet it sounds like Hextall won’t be keeping Gagner, who is unrestricted after the coming season. “We’re going to look at all of our options over the next few days and we’ll make the decisions we have to make,” Hextall said.

“I really don’t know. I don’t want to speak right now and look back and say why did I say that. Sam is a good player, he brings a high level of skill. We still have to look closely at our cap and see where we’re at. 

“We’ll make that decision and the other decisions we have to make here. It could be a combination of a few things. I really don’t have an answer for you.”

What about a buyout for Gagner? “We just haven’t even had time to think about anything, quite frankly,” Hextall said. “We’ve got to get our numbers in order  our cap is still not totally cleaned up, but we’re a lot closer now.”

This trade, man…