Dave Gagner spent two full seasons with the OHL's Brantford Alexanders. In 1982-83 he registered 55 goals and 121 points in 70 games, catching the attention of NHL scouts. The same season he was named to the OHL Second All-Star Team.
He was selected in the first round of the 1983 NHL Entry Draft (12th overall) by the New York Rangers and bounced back and forth between New York and their American Hockey League farm team, the New Haven Nighthawks over the next several seasons. He remained with the Rangers' organization until 1987 but was never able to completely get over the hump and earn a full-time roster spot, largely due to his being considered too small for an NHL forward.
His career took off when he was traded to the Minnesota North Stars in 1987. Though initially spending time with Minnesota's farm team in Kalamazoo, Gagner broke out in 1989–90 with 40 goals and was in the NHL to stay. In his best season (1990–91), Gagner recorded 82 points in 73 games. He remained with the Stars when they moved to Dallas, until he was traded to Toronto on January 29, 1996. His stay in Toronto would last only 28 games before he was again traded, this time to Calgary, where he would spend the entire 1996–97 season, scoring a very respectable 27 goals and 60 points in 82 games.
In the summer of 1997 Gagner was on the move again, signing a free agent contract with the Florida Panthers. Gagner would spent a season and a half in Florida before being involved in a blockbuster trade on January 17, 1999. Gagner, along with Ed Jovanovski, Mike Brown, Kevin Weekes and Florida's 1st round choice (Nathan Smith) in the 2000 NHL Entry Draft were dealt to Vancouver in exchange for superstar Pavel Bure, Bret Hedican, Brad Ference and Vancouver's 3rd round choice (Robert Fried) 2000 NHL Entry Draft.
Gagner would finish the 1998–99 season with the Canucks before officially announcing his retirement on September 9, 1999, after 15 years in the NHL. He finished with 719 points in 946 NHL regular season games.
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