Gagner can be a UFA in one year, and Mac does not want to see that happen.

“Sam likes it here, he has been a valuable member of our team and is always trending up and he’ll be a guy that we’ll be looking to sign.”

My take? This is good news. Gagner is heading into his prime years as a two-way NHL player. If things don’t work out for him at centre, he will be a good second line winger. It’s the right move to try to sign him up long-term.

He might even make it as a centre if he’s given the right wingers. He has done well with Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle in the past, so maybe that is the right mix. This would see Ryan Nugent-Hopkins team up with Nail Yakupov on the other Oilers line.

Mac added that as Nugent-Hopkins and Gagner get older they should become better two-way players, as seen in Detroit with Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk. ”They’re players that can win battles and I feel like our centermen are very capable of doing that.”