EDMONTON - With all the excitement over their new prospects, Sam Gagner has almost become an oversight.
Yet it wasn’t too long ago the 21-year-old centre was considered the future of the Edmonton Oilers franchise.
Gagner would like to regain that status this season, having signed a two-year contract extension announced by the club late Sunday night.
“I’m really excited about it,” Gagner said. “I really wasn’t worried too much about my contract getting done, I knew my agent was working on it. I was just concentrating on getting ready for the season.”
A native of London, Ont., Gagner cracked the Oilers lineup as an 18 year old out of junior.
Last season, he scored 15 goals and added 26 assists for 41 points in 68 games.
He, along with the rest of the club, had loftier goals heading into the year.
“You learn a lot when you go through a season like we had last year,” Gagner said. “But with the new guys we’re getting this season, there is a lot of excitement heading into the year. I’m really looking forward to it.”
The Oilers first pick - sixth overall - in the 2007 NHL Entry draft, Gagner expects to take on more of a leadership role with the club the season.
Going through a rebuilding phase, the Oilers blew out a number of veterans this off-season to make wave for their next generation led by Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle.
They were left without a captain with Ethan Moreau’s departure, a position Gagner was once considered a possible candidate for.
“I’ve always tried to be a leader by example,” Gagner said. “I’ve never been a vocal guy in the dressing room, but I’m ready to take on a bigger role. I’m really looking forward to the season.”