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Gagne-to-Tampa rumors: With potential reward comes risk

A couple of days ago, we front paged a story about how (contingent on Ilya Kovalchuk signing in Los Angeles) the Bolts should trade for Simon Gagne.

Now it appears the Simon Gagne-to-Tampa speculation has some teeth to it.

Lightning beat writer Damian Cristordero reported today that the Bolts do indeed have soem interest, but it would also appear that there is a Vinik-level of secrecy going on here. No one will talk about it, no one will mention it. Silence abounds.

Damian then goes off in hyping up the potential of such an acquisition:

Acquiring Gagne, 30, who in the past three seasons in which he was healthy scored 47, 41 and 34 goals, would make the Lightning automatic playoff contenders. It would spike ticket sales. It would make Tampa Bay relevant again in a market where it has been the butt of jokes the past two years. And, besides, what’s the harm in a little short-term gain while Yzerman decides what direction to take the team in the future?

And yet, Cristordero answers his own question when leading into his hyping: “In the past three seasons in which he was healthy.”

Cristordero goes on to list some of Gagne’s past health-related issues from his years with the Flyers, but he segues into the potential far too often to seem like there should be any true caution.

So for a more objective take on Gagne’s health, we jump over to our friend Mike Chen at From The Rink who has a piece up on Gagne’s health related concerns:

The problem with Simon Gagne isn’t so much that his injuries prevent him from being a top-line player; it’s that he’s got those dreaded injuries that can reoccur at almost any moment, and once they happen, it’s a long road back. Let’s see look at his injury history:

2002-03: Groin injury
October 2007: Concussion
February 2008: Concussion (re-injured on his first shift back)
August 2009: Groin injury (Olympic camp)
October 2009: Double sports hernia

Yep, that’s a string of groin injuries and concussions. Those aren’t the types of injuries you just heal from after a few weeks of sitting out. They can have lingering effects for months, perhaps even affecting the rest of someone’s career. And the problem with both of those types of injuries is that once you have your first major incident, your susceptible to another.

So, on one hand, Gagne can score not only goals but many, many goals* despite injuries and physical ailments. On the other hand: The potential for a Darren Puppa redux, or even Alex Tanguay for that matter.

You do remember Alex Tanguay right? Brought in to much hype last season, but with thanks to the system he was playing in – largely forgotten, misused, underused, etc. That’s one intangible that’s not yet answered: How does Simon Gagne fit into Guy Boucher’s system? Yes, Coach Boucher tailors a system to fit a player’s skills and not trying to pound a player into his own personal system (a la Rick Tocchet).

Tanguay was also coming back from injuries, he was also around 30 years old and a proven point producer… and deemed a Vincent Lecavalier line answer.

What is my point here? It’s not such a slam dunk case to go out and get Gagne. It doesn’t even go into the No Trade Clause stuff, or the price-to-acquire for a team that lacks depth in the first place. Collecting assets now is the focus of Steve Yzerman, not a short-term addition, but someone who will pay dividends for a while to come for the Bolts.

I can’t say the idea of adding Gagne is not a sexy one. I’m just trying to ground the expectations. Gagne is not the panacea that Cristordero makes him out to be.

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