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Numbers Game: Purcell, Gagner on the move

Scott Cullen
6/29/2014 11:57:29 PM
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The Edmonton Oilers picked up veteran scoring winger Teddy Purcell, sending Sam Gagner to Tampa Bay, who then flipped Gagner to Arizona in a move to clear cap space.

Numbers Game breaks down the pieces involved in these two deals.

The Oilers Get: RW Teddy Purcell.

Purcell, 28, is a skilled winger with good size, though he doesn't always use that size to his maximum advantage. He's missed a total of three games over the past four seasons and his 194 points over that time ranks 57th in the league. He's a productive player.

A fine complement to other skilled forwards, Purcell has posted strong relative posession stats, enough that he's a solid fit as a second-line winger.

How that fits with the current Oilers roster is an interesting question, at the very least. With Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, David Perron and Nail Yakupov on board, adding Purcell to the mix does give the Oilers plenty of scoring wingers, though they are now looking at a presumed hole at second-line centre, unless the Oilers are already projecting third overall pick Leon Draisaitl into that spot.

Purcell has two years remaining on a contract that comes with a $4.5-million cap hit; no bargain, but not unreasonable for a top-six forward.

The Coyotes Get: C Sam Gagner and RW B.J. Crombeen.

Gagner is a 24-year-old who has never surpassed the 49 points that he scored as a rookie, but is also the second-leading scorer from the 2007 Draft class, behind only first overall pick Patrick Kane.

It's certainly possible that Gagner can recover his game, because he's still relatively young, but he's been a possession disaster over the past couple seasons and at least part of that reflects his defensive shortcomings.

Where this fits for Arizona is that they have two-way centres that can effectively protect Gagner. With Martin Hanzal and Antoine Vermette available to face tougher match-ups, Gagner can be utilized in a role that focuses on offensive production. Since the Coyotes just bought out Mike Ribeiro, it's conceivable that Gagner could take over those minutes and Ribeiro started a higher percentage of his shifts in the offensive zone (minimum 40 games played) than anyone in the league last season.

If the Coyotes are going to maximize Gagner's production, they could also give him that offensive role and add a free agent winger to further upgrade their skill level. Former Oilers RW Ales Hemsky is a free agent, but Jussi Jokinen, Matt Moulson and Mike Cammalleri are other options that could have some appeal.

Gagner has two years left on his contract, at a cap hit of $4.8-million, and will get $5-million per season in actual salary, with the Lightning retaining one-third the cost as part of the trade. More on that in a moment.

Crombeen is a 28-year-old winger who has has 90 fights and 49 points in 265 games over the past six-plus seasons. He's generally a subpar possession player, but not so much so that he can't handle a regular shift on the fourth line.

Heading into the final year of his contract, Crombeen brings a cap hit of $1.15-million, and gives the Coyotes an enforcer that they can keep in the lineup on at least a semi-regular basis.

The Lightning Get: A sixth-round pick in 2015.

In the immediate aftermath of the Gagner-for-Purcell swap, the Lightning Tweeted that Gagner was going to be bought-out, which makes sense considering the Lightning's decision to retain salary as part of the deal with Arizona.

Since Gagner is under 26-years-old, a buyout would cost one-third the value of his contract, so the Coyotes jumped in, before Gagner hit the open market, and by taking on Crombeen's salary, gave the Lightning a little increased financial flexibility as they prepare for free agency on July 1.

With more room to maneuver under the cap, the Lightning could go in a couple directions. They could go after a scoring winger -- Jarome Iginla, Thomas Vanek and Mike Cammalleri are some options -- a veteran to complement a young and promising group of Tampa Bay forwards, or they could spend that money on defence. Former Lightning D Dan Boyle could be one target, but Christian Ehrhoff, Mark Fayne, Anton Stralman and Matt Niskanen are among the more prized blueliners about to hit free agency.

A sixth-round pick brings with it about a 15% chance of yielding an NHL player, so not great value, but a token price for taking on Crombeen's contract.

In a separate deal, the Lightning also moved Nate Thompson to Anaheim, acquiring fourth and seventh-round picks in 2015. The picks bring a little less than a 30% chance of an NHL player, but the Lightning clear Thompson's $1.6-million per season for the next three years off the books.

Essentially the Oilers, and especially the Lightning look like they are making moves to set up something else, other moves to make this offseason, while the Coyotes took advantage of an opportunity and filled a hole in their lineup at a very reasonable cost.

Scott Cullen can be reached at Scott.Cullen@bellmedia.ca and followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tsnscottcullen. For more, check out TSN Fantasy on Facebook.




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