There is a lot of talk about Milan Lucic heading out of town in the coming days or weeks. After just two years with the Oilers, what once looked like a perfect marriage appears headed for certain divorce. I touched on everything that has been happening yesterday, while also warning that a rebound for Lucic is likely.
The point of these articles is NOT to bash Lucic, Peter Chiarelli or the Oilers. There has been enough of that in the last little while. The point of these posts is to try and break things down honestly while removing the bias from the discussion. It isn’t easy, but we’ll try and do that.
I believe that Lucic will be traded before July 1st. Why? The Oilers have a history of telegraphing their moves via the media. There is far too much smoke, especially from the big insiders, regarding this story. Something is doubtless up.
Here is what Elliotte Friedman said last night (via FRS Network Hockey).
“Well, you know it sounds to me like – and I haven’t spoken to anyone in Edmonton – but it sounds to me from the people who have kind of either spoken to them or spoken to teams who have spoken to them that the Oilers are somewhat confident that they’re going to be able to do this. I’m not there. I assumed there was going to have to be a sweetener, whether a draft pick or eating money, or taking back a bad contract. But it sounds like Edmonton is reasonably confident.”
One of the biggest things for me in a Lucic trade is not taking an anchor contract back or giving up a prime asset. To me, that wouldn’t be worth it for the club. Based on Friedman’s comments here, we don’t have to worry as much about that now.
Friedman later mentioned Florida and Dallas as teams that were interested in Lucic back in 2016 when he hit free agency. Vancouver and Montreal were also on that list. Although Friedman also mentioned that Lucic no longer has an appetite to play in Canada, one has to think they are both involved here now.
So, if Edmonton is trading Lucic and doesn’t have to retain salary or sweeten the deal, what does that trade look like with the aforementioned teams?
The Stars are projected to have around $17 million in cap space this summer and really don’t have any major free agents to re-sign. In fact, veteran D Dan Hamhuis and F Antoine Roussel are the only real big names and both of them shouldn’t require a large penny.
I could see Dallas trying to off-load Jason Spezza in a Lucic deal, and that could make sense for Edmonton from a money standpoint only. Spezza only has one-year left on his deal, meaning the Oil will be free of commitment next summer. That said, Spezza’s cap hit is more ($7,500,000) and he fell to 26 points last season. He did post 50 points in 2016-17, however, and could benefit from the change.
Dallas also has the cap room where they could send Edmonton a draft pick or mid-level prospect to acquire Lucic. They have two fourth rounders this June while Edmonton has none. A name I wouldn’t mind seeing in return but I doubt it happens? Old pal Tyler Pitlick.
Dale Tallon has always loved Lucic, and Florida made a push for him in 2016. As I mentioned yesterday afternoon, the Panthers are very much alive in trade talks for the veteran Lucic.
Florida has a projected $9 million in cap space this summer, with only Alex Petrovic left to sign (RFA). The Panthers won’t want to spend to the cap, so there would have to be either money coming back to Edmonton or retained by the Oilers here.
I could absolutely see Petrovic, who is reportedly on the block, being involved here. He is exactly the kind of player Edmonton likes and he’s an Alberta boy too. Jamie McGinn, for cap purposes, is a player I could absolutely see involved in trade talks between the teams as well.
The obvious one that pops off the page, if Lucic is willing to go back home, is Loui Eriksson-for-Milan Lucic. Chiarelli has already acquired Eriksson once, and the contracts are similiar. Eriksson is a more skilled player and better defensively, while Lucic is more of a leader and physical player.
If I’m the Oilers, I’m not moving Lucic’s contract for an equally as poor one. In fact, Eriksson has been been far worse in Vancouver than Lucic has been in Edmonton. He’s posted seasons of just 24 and 23 points, respectively, with the Canucks.
Other than that, the contract of veteran center Brandon Sutter could be a chip here, but I’m not sure he’d entice the Oilers. Sutter’s cap hit is less ($4,375,000) and only has three years remaining on it.
I’m not sure there is an appealing fit here.
If Lucic’s family feels Edmonton has been too tough on them, they should 1000% stay away from Montreal, especially right now. I highly doubt Lucic would waive his NMC for the Habs, so this is kind of a pointless exercise for this team even though they have called Peter Chiarelli on him already.
Andrew Shaw ($3,900,000 AAV, four years) is the cleanest fit here because he’s cheaper, has less term and still gives Edmonton the intangibles. Shea Weber ($7,857,143 AAV, eight years) would be a huge help to Edmonton now, but he’s coming off major injury and his contract is without debate worse than Lucic’s moving forward.
There is still the possibility that another team or two enters the fray. I believe that if the Boston Bruins lose Rick Nash and can’t sign Ilya Kovalchuk that they will circle back to Lucic. Pittsburgh could also be in the market for Looch, especially if the Oilers are willing to take Phil Kessel off their hands.
Of course, you can NEVER rule out the Philadelphia Flyers when it comes to big name players that play Milan’s style.
The most appealing deals out there right now? Certainly looks like the ones that Florida and Dallas could do. If the Oilers got Jamie McGinn and Alex Petrovic back for Lucic? I think most people would have a hard time complaining about that.