We’ll be sure to take a more in-depth look at the deal in the coming weeks, and certainly in our full-season preview of the Kings he will play a significant part of that exploration. But for now, let’s take a look at the deal that the Kings signed after being snubbed by Brad Richards (Good luck in New York… you’ll need it!)
First, the biographical facts. Gagne is a 31 year old winger, selected in the first round (#22 overall) of the 1998 draft by the Philadelphia Flyers. Standing a solid 6’1″ and weighing in at 193lbs, Gagne isn’t the kind of player that can be easily pushed around by opposing defensemen. Gagne is a Flyer through and through, having suited up for them for the 1999-2000 season (his rookie season) and continuing to toil away in Philadelphia until being traded to Tampa Bay prior to last season. As you might notice if you pay close attention, that means he’s been part of two significant playoff runs, including Philadelphia all the way to the Cup Finals last season, and to the Conference Finals this season with Tampa Bay.
So what does Gagne bring to the table? He’s an interesting case, and frankly the answer is… quite a bit. He’s scored better than 40 goals twice in his career, and better than 30 goals four times. He’s definitely slowed down a bit in the last two seasons, scoring only 17 goals in each, though that can be attributed to a number of factors. What else does Gagne bring to the table?
One thing that Lombardi and the rest of the leadership team have emphasized is character players, and people willing to provide that veteran leadership to the team. The “winning attitude” if you will. Gagne was the assistant captain for the Flyers during their run to the finals (and we’ve got their captain as well), and played a key role in that run. If you recall, the Flyers were down 3-0 in the series against Boston, while Gagne was out with an injury. He returned in game 4, scored the game winner in over time, scored two more goals in game 5, and scored the series winning goal in the eventual game 7. If that’s not clutch play, I’m not sure what is.
Simon Gagne is a talented offensive player, who has the potential to score goals in bunches, and it is not insignificant that he’s got a working relationship with Mike Richards. The two of them made up 2/3 of the Flyers leadership group only one year ago, and hopefully they’ll be able to bring that leadership, combined with skill to Los Angeles and help find some success in the post season.
So are there downsides? Of course, with all players there is some sort of risk, and this is no different. Gagne does have a history of injuries, having missed around 20 games in each of the last two seasons. That said, if he can stay healthy, he’s going to be a very talented addition to the top 6 forwards. The players tentatively slotted into those spots include Kopitar, Richards, Penner, Gagne, Williams and Brown. It’s a very impressive top 6, and frankly enough to make the Kings a strong team heading into next season.
However, the downsides are very effectively minimized when looking at his contract. Our previous look at Gagne makes it seem like he’s a great choice, but his price was a bit higher than I think the Kings were interested in paying, having played last season for $5.25 million. However, Gagne signed for a very reasonable $7 million over two seasons, so only a $3.5 million cap hit. For $1 million per season less than Erik Cole, this is a very reasonable deal that the Kings will be able to fit under their cap with ease.
In all, I think this is a great deal for the Kings. Simon Gagne provides secondary scoring, helps relieve some of the pressure on Kopitar that has mounted over the past two seasons, can work well with Richards (at least), and has the ability to help in a variety of scenarios, as well as contributing something to the leadership side of the Kings. It’s a deal that Kings fans should be quite pleased with. Next up, signing Doughty to a reasonable, long term offer.
Topics: Anze Kopitar, Boston Bruins, Brad Richards, Drew Doughty, Dustin Brown, Dustin Penner, Erik Cole, Justin Williams, Los Angeles Kings, Mike Richards, New York Rangers, Philadelphia Flyers, Simon Gagne, Tampa Bay Lightening