Sam Gagner Re-Assigned to the Phantoms

Wednesday, December 30, 2015
Taylor Leier looks forward to possibly being re-united on a line with Sam Gagner. Photo: Nina Weiss/The Home News
The Philadelphia Flyers needed to make room to activate Mark Streit from injured reserve, and did so yesterday by placing forward Sam Gagner on waivers. Today at noon after being unclaimed, Gagner was officially re-assigned to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms.

The 6th overall pick in the 2007 NHL Draft has never played a game in the AHL, having spent nine seasons in the NHL and racking up 118 goals and 223 assists in 580 NHL games. This isn't a case of an older guy losing a step in his game. Gagner is just 26 years old.

After a slow start with the Flyers this season, coupled with a concussion that caused him to miss significant time, Gagner joins the Phantoms roster after tallying five points (two goals, three assists) in 18 games with the Flyers this fall.

Exclusive comments from Taylor Leier, who played on a line with Gagner for three games in Phildelphia this season, on Gagner joining the team after the jump, as well as what this means for the Phantoms moving forward.

Taylor Leier on the prospect of Gagner joining the Phantoms:
Obviously, he's got an NHL skill set. If we are lucky enough to get him, we'd be happy to have him and it would be awesome to play with him. He's a really good player. He played nine years in the NHL for a reason. 
Anytime you can add a player to the AHL roster with 580 games of NHL experience and 341 points at the highest level of competition, it's obviously a bonus.

The problem it creates, however, is with the AHL's veteran rule which states an AHL team can only dress five skaters (goaltenders aren't included in the rule) with more than 320 pro games and one with more than 260 but less than 320 pro games (NHL, AHL, KHL and European pro leagues).

With Gagner's addition, the Phantoms now have nine veterans:
Davis Drewiske (less than 320 but more than 260), Colin McDonald, Aaron Palushaj, Chris Conner, Matt Lashoff, Tim Brent, Jay Rosehill and Andrew MacDonald.
Chris Conner is still out with an upper body injury, but when he returns the Phantoms will need to scratch three veteran players every game. Jay Rosehill and Matt Lashoff have often sat as a veteran scratch this season, but now the Phantoms will need to scratch one more on top of those two each night.

Who do you sit in that instance to put Gagner in the lineup?
Colin McDonald is the team's captain and on-ice leader. He plays physical, sticks up for teammates. Both of his goals on the season have come in the last four games.
Aaron Palushaj has been a top-six staple for the Phantoms all season long, and last night in Binghamton looked to have great chemistry with Nick Cousins and Taylor Leier.
Chris Conner was arguably the team's best player before getting hurt and scheduled to miss six weeks.
Tim Brent has been the team's top line center all season and takes every key face-off in late-game, penalty kill and important situations.
Andrew MacDonald has been the team's best player the last 10 games, with four goals and seven assists in those last 10 games.
It will certainly be interesting to see how this all plays out.


John Barness said...

Thank you for the good news

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