The Edmonton Oilers have avoided salary arbitration with Sam Gagner, signing him to a three-year, $14.4 million contract.

Oilers avoid arbitration with Sam Gagner.

Oilers avoid arbitration with Sam Gagner.

 SPECTOR’S NOTE: The two sides cut it close as Gagner’s arbitration hearing was today, but all’s well that ends well in this instance. Gagner’s new contract pays him an annual cap hit of $4.8 million, less than the $5.5 million he sought, but more than the $3.5 million the Oilers were offering.

He’ll earn $4.4 million in 2013-14, $5 million in 2014-15 and $5.5 million (with a no-movement clause) in 2015-16.

 Overall it’s a fair deal for both sides. Gagner is only 23 but has five straight 40-plus point seasons. In the lockout shortened 2012-13 campaign he had 38 points in 48 games, which when prorated put him on pace for a career-best of around 60 points.

This contract allows Gagner the opportunity to fully prove himself with the Oilers as he enters his playing prime, but at the same time doesn’t tie the club into too long a deal should he fail to make significant improvement over that period.