Sam Gagner was traded twice within 90 minutes Sunday night, first from the Edmonton Oilers to Tampa Bay and then from the Lightning to the Arizona Coyotes.
The Oilers got winger Teddy Purcell from the Lightning in exchange for centre Gagner. The Lightning then flipped him to the Coyotes along with tough guy B.J. Crombeen for a sixth-round pick.
Gagner has two years left on his contract at a cap hit of US$4.8 million. The 24-year-old had long been the subject of trade rumours with Edmonton mulling changes amid a long playoff drought.
Purcell, a 28-year-old right-winger, has two years left at a cap hit of $4.5 million. He had 12 goals and 30 assists in 81 games this past season.
The trade represents another change for the Oilers as general manager Craig MacTavish seeks to get a young core built around Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle to the playoffs for the first time.
Drafting big German centre Leon Draisaitl third overall Friday night might have been enough to convince MacTavish it was time to move Gagner, whose no-trade clause was set to kick in July 1.
“I think (Draisaitl) helps us fill a need, gives us an opportunity to have a strong centreman with some size that can play ahead of or behind the Nuge, whatever way it works, and we’ll give him that opportunity,” director of amateur scouting Stu MacGregor said Saturday in Philadelphia.
Gagner, the sixth overall pick in 2007, had 10 goals and 27 assists in 67 games in 2013-14. In his NHL career, all with Edmonton, the London, Ont., native has 295 points in 481 games.
Purcell, a native of St. John’s, N.L., has 228 points in 401 career games and 18 in 22 playoff games.
By trading Purcell and Crombeen ($1.15 million), the Lightning cleared more than $5.5 million in salary-cap space two days before the start of the free-agent period. Tampa Bay is believed to be targeting a right-handed-shooting defenceman.
In Gagner, the Coyotes get a centre to replace Mike Ribeiro, who was bought out for what general manager Don Maloney termed as “behavioural issues.”
“We are very pleased to acquire a talented, young centre like Sam Gagner,” Maloney said in a statement. “He has the intelligence, character and skill set we were looking for and we believe he has further growth in his game. We look forward to welcoming Sam to Arizona.”