The Blue Jackets are close to signing free-agent center Sam Gagner to a one-year contract, sources told The Dispatch on Saturday.
The deal could be completed as soon as Monday.
Gagner, 26, had eight goals, eight assists and 25 penalty minutes in 53 games with the Philadelphia Flyers last season. He also played nine games in the American Hockey League for the first time in his career.
The addition of Gagner would help strengthen a soft spot on the Blue Jackets’ roster since the trade of Ryan Johansen to the Nashville Predators in January. Gagner wouldn’t replace Johansen, but he could allow Boone Jenner to move back to left wing, where coach John Tortorella prefers to play him.
Brandon Dubinsky will likely draw top-line duty if Jenner moves back to wing, and Gagner would compete with Alexander Wennberg and William Karlsson to center the second or third line. Gregory Campbell and Lukas Sedlak will also be in the mix for playing time.
In 615 NHL games with Edmonton, Arizona and Philadelphia, Gagner has 124 goals, 228 assists and 352 penalty minutes. His best season was 2011-12 with Edmonton, when he had 18 goals, 29 assists and 47 points, all career highs.
Gagner was the No. 6 overall pick of Edmonton in 2007 and signed a three-year, $14.4 million deal with the Oilers before the 2013-14 season. But he has bounced around in recent years as his production has dipped and his salary became an anchor.
Last season, he settled into a fourth-line role with the Flyers and was put on waivers in January to clear salary-cap space. He played nine games with Lehigh Valley of the AHL before being recalled to Philadelphia.