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Photo Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Could Milan Lucic be traded this summer?

According to Frank Seravalli, there’s a chance that Milan Lucic could be on the move this summer as his name appears at #18 on TSN’s trade bait board. Not only that, Jason Gregor added more smoke to the rumour after he mentioned on his show that the big winger could be open to the idea of a trade. Let’s investigate that, shall we?

After signing a seven-year deal two summers ago, I don’t think anyone would have expected things to fall off the rails like this, at least not this fast. I remember the day Lucic signed that monster $42 million dollar deal and thinking that it might be a year or two too long, but that we’d cross that bridge when we got there and there wasn’t really much point in worrying about it now. Less than two years later, we’re already talking about whether or not the big man will be back for a third season with the Oilers despite still having five years left on his deal. Would you have expected that? I wouldn’t have. But I guess life comes at you fast.

In fact, our own Jason Gregor mentioned on his show that Lucic would actually be open for a trade provided that the landing spot fit with what he was looking for:

I’ve heard that (Lucic) would be open to a trade but, obviously, he’s going to have to agree to the city.

The fact that Lucic’s name is coming up in trade rumours shouldn’t exactly be surprising. The guy had nine points in the back half of the 2017-18 season and that’s the kind of production that is sure to spawn the “he might need a change of scenery” talk. That said, there is still a lot of time and cake left on this deal and I can’t help but think that it’s unlikely that we’ll see him move, but what the hell do I know? This rumour has enough legs at this point where I could easily be wrong so I figured I would look at some of the pros and cons of moving Lucic while also trying to figure out who might be interested in taking him.

THE PROS

  • The Oilers desperately need cap space. Having a $6 million winger on the third line doesn’t exactly make much financial sense, and if that’s the role that Lucic is looking at for the future then it would certainly seem plausible for the Oilers to try and send some of that money elsewhere.
  • The Oilers were often accused of being too slow last year and Milan Lucic would certainly be included in that. Once he gets to top speed he’s actually a decent skater, but like Bowser in Mariokart, getting up to that top end can take a minute or two.
  • Last year, the play too often died on Lucic’s stick and he doesn’t have the quickness to turn it around and give chase back towards the defensive zone. Was that a confidence thing? Could be, but I’d rather not see those choppy one-handed passes anymore either way.
  • If Lucic is in any way unhappy being here then why would the Oilers keep him around? If you love someone, Pete, set them free.

THE CONS

  • If you’re a fan of the #GritChart then moving Lucic probably doesn’t make a lot of sense to you. With Pat Maroon gone since the deadline, the Oilers don’t have much left in terms of size on the wings and sending Lucic away would compound that fact.
  • Love or hate it, the Pacific Division is full of big boys and Lucic’s style of play fits in with that. Now, skill can always seem to find a way around big and slow, but is that the kind of team Chiarelli wants?
  • I truly believe that it’s important to have players on the roster that have won before and Lucic is the only guy with a Cup ring. In the playoffs, that experience can be valuable.
  • Quite frankly, I find it hard to believe that Lucic won’t be better than he was at the end of last season. Those 40+ games were the worst of his NHL career and it almost seems likely, based on his career history, that he will bounce back in some way. I mean, I would bet Gregor’s money that he won’t go another half-season with only one goal to his name. Moving him now would certainly be selling low, but it’s still a gamble to expect that he will bounce back.

THE OPTIONS

Considering there are still five years and $30 million left on Lucic’s deal, it’s going to take someone with a lot of cap space to take him on, or the Oilers will have to take back an ugly contract the other way to try and even out the money. Looking at NHL Numbers, teams like the Arizona Coyotes and Vegas Golden Knights have plenty of room under the cap for the winger, but it still seems unlikely given the former’s love of analytics and the overall team quickness of the latter. There are a couple of other teams that could maybe swing it but you know that the Oilers wouldn’t be able to come out of this one without some dollars coming back.

If you look at a ‘change of scenery’ type of deal, then the options open up a little bit more. Maybe Lucic would be open to a homecoming in Vancouver if it meant that the Canucks could send Louie Eriksson back the other way? I’m not saying it’s a great idea, but Chiarelli has traded for Eriksson before so it’s not exactly out of the realm of possibility. What about the Florida Panthers? There were rumours a while back that Nick Bjugstad might be available and landing in Sunrise, Florida, might a spot that Lucic would waive his no-trade for, you’d have to think. The Oilers would probably have to add value to the deal to make it work, but there could be a fit there. How about Carolina? According to basically every insider there is, the Hurricanes are looking at making some sweeping changes and maybe part of that is bringing in a former Cup winner?

Who am I missing?

THE WRAP…


The idea of Milan Lucic being traded this quickly is almost crazy, but there seems to be some smoke forming around the idea. Though, how surprised should we be? I had heard stories throughout the season that things weren’t exactly sunshine and roses for Lucic around here, and maybe a change of location is what he needs to get himself back on track. That said, he ultimately controls the situation with a no-move clause on his bullet proof contract that would make trading him tricky unless he likes what he’s seeing. That said, the Oilers could definitely use some cap relief and moving Lucic out would certainly provide that.

Of course, with $30 million still owed to him ($26 million in actual dollars), the Oilers would likely be getting back a bad contract or next to nothing in return so you have to wonder how Peter Chiarelli will approach this, especially when you consider the relationship he has with Looch from their Boston days. Would he be willing to trade the veteran he brought in for leadership as a favour to him or would he ask that he comes back ready to play? Trade or not, I can’t see these Lucic rumblings calming down any time soon or, at the very least, until there is some kind of comment from either the player or the organization. No matter what happens, things just got a little more interesting around here.

What do you guys think?

LUCIC’S CAREER SO FAR

Season GP G A P +/- PIM PPG PPP SHG SHP GWG OTG S S%
2017-2018 82 10 24 34 -12 80 3 7 0 0 1 0 147 6.8
NHL Career 811 192 289 481 105 981 37 99 0 0 35 1 1,398 13.7
  • socaldave

    I don’t see ML as a huge reason why the Oilers failed last year, but if HE wants out because he’s got no jam, and can’t hack it in a hockey-crazy market? What a pansy – good riddance.

  • Louiemac75

    Well, the pens are apparently looking to move kessel and his 4 years of 6.8. I understand they’re expecting sprong to be a regular next season. And there not opposed to playing big money on a third line. Pens may see value in that role. Im sure more pieces would have to be added, a second rounder maybe? Oilers would be taking on a bigger cap hit but with one less year. I wouldn’t move a first to get that deal done though.

    • Carbonrod

      Luc and a 2nd for Kessel would never happen. Kessel is an elite offensive player costing them only 6.8 and Luc isn’t in his league and makes 6. if that was on the table I would take it in a second. Kessel would cost us the10th or a core player as well.

  • Lucic’s value has never been lower and you guys want to trade him to Van for Eriksson, or Pittsburg for Kessel. Van would have to swap picks though, 7th for your 10th. Really? Hahaha. That will never happen, but even in theory, it does nothing to help Oilers cap hell.

    Find a way to make it work. He’s not going anywhere.

  • OilCan2

    I think that last season was a glitch in the matrix. Looch may have played through an injury,… who knows? Nurse might have punched him in the noggin for not back checking. Season opener day checker is ON.

  • Carbonrod

    I think Lucic can bounce back next year and be productive. 45pts is attainable. It is stupid to keep this cycle of turning on a player after 1 bad season going, it’s a bad dynamic that harms our teams reputation among players and is a big reason we aren’t a free agent destination.

    Every team has a bad contract with too much term. Dumping Lucic for cap space would serve a purpose if we were signing a better player like Carlson, but he’s probably not coming here. Trading bad contract for bad contract is just spinning our wheels, a Loui Erickson or Bobby Ryan type player isn’t a real upgrade and hurts our cap situation just as much..

    If all things go well for him this offseason he can come back to training camp with his confidence and maybe 15-20 fewer pounds on his frame. He can never be a speedster because of his frame but if he gets just a bit quicker he will be able to keep up with Drai and maybe have a solid contribution.

    • oilerjed

      I would be surprised if Looch could lose even 10lbs. Nothing there to lose but muscle and more muscle. might make a difference though, not that I believe the whole too slow for the NHL drive that is making rounds around here.

  • AlexTheOilersFanSince2006

    Well not surprising considering EVERYONE hated him since basically day 1. Hope you’re happy guys! As one of the few who was behind this signing FROM DAY 1, I’d be mildly upset if he was traded. Last season was bad, sure, but the year before he was excellent. He scored, he made plays, he lay HUGE hits (I’m still in love with his hit on Auston Watson) and he contributed. But yeah, go ahead and run him out of town. I’m sure nobody will regret that decision

    • crabman

      Lucic has scored the majority of his career points 5×5. He has had 2 poor, by his standards, 5×5 seasons in a row. The reason it doesn’t look like he had 2 bad years in a row is because last year he had a historically, by his standards, good PP season. He scored 25 PP points, which made up 50% of his total scoring. Lucic was a career average 17% PP point player before joining the Oilers and this year he dropped back to Earth with 20%. He has scored 25 and 27 5×5 points the past 2 years, well bellow career average. That could be the beginning of a bigger trend or it could be a 2 year slump. I believe Lucic will bounce back somewhat but think the 50+ point seasons are behind him. I hope if he returns he can get 40-45 points, play a responsible defensive game and physically impose his will like Lucic in his prime. Not a $6M player but useful. If he is traded and does this for another team, good for him. It will all depend on what they get back and how the cap savings are used to determine if moving him was the right move or not.

  • Moneyball

    One of the big reasons Edmonton had a decade of darkness is that we could not attract UFA’s to come to Edmonton. When we finally do sign one, he will get run out of town a couple of years later. Good luck building a team with that track record. We will be in a scenario of overpaying more than any other team for UFA’s. The best long term plan is to work with Lucic, improve his game and get him into a role where he can succeed. Last season like a lot of players he seems to be confused about the game plan on the ice, his role and the officiating. Next year will be better and the return we would get from trading him will be too.

  • Kneedroptalbot

    Lucic can’t skate at the NHL level, he struggled to keep up with Kopitar, Gaborik, and Toffoli in L.A. Would be great if the Oilers are able to move him. Other GM’s see what we see.

  • Corbs

    I think trading him now is a big mistake. He’s a proud, motivated guy. He had a bad year obviously but nothing in his history suggests that he won’t bounce back. If he’s gone guys will immediately start running at 97.

    As for his contract…who cares how much he makes. We were not a cap team last year so his contract didn’t hurt us. In a couple years it could but by then Sekera will be off the books. His contract is an over pay but it doesn’t hamper anyone but the guy paying him…and he can afford it just fine.

  • ponokanocker

    His play dropped off drastically in the second half; the Oilers were out of playoff contention in the second half. He’s at a point in his career where he wants to win, and when it’s clear his team won’t be in the playoffs, I’m sure subconsciously, he checked out. I could see him open to a trade if he thinks this season is an indication of what future years will be like. If I was a player who wanted to win, I know I sure would give serious consideration to moving on.

  • FISTO Siltanen

    Correct me if I’m wrong but wouldn’t the play here be if he wants out you give his agent permission to talk to teams he’d be interested in playing for and coming back saying “Team X will give you this for Lucic…” and the Oilers haggle from there?

    I am not on the Lucic-hate train but if the Oilers were to trade him isn’t there easily s dozen players whose cap hit is considerably lower than their salary?

    Is Justin Faulk worth $6M a season next two years? Is Nick Bjustad worth $5M? Not saying these will be our targets but i can see a situation where someone would rather pay more in cap hit for Lucic and dump one of these guys – either directly for Lucic or to another team and move some of those assets for him.

    I just hope this organization figures out how to solve keeping Lucic and making it work and not dumping another vet.

  • Frank Rizza

    I agree that there’s “smoke forming around the idea”. When Stauffer is saying it over and over again it probably means that it’s coming but I can’t help but feel that we get way softer real quick if we do this. Say what you want about Lucic but he’s one of, if not the greatest equalizer on the ice in every game he plays. There’s almost never any funny business from anybody in the league when he’s on the ice. He’s the ultimate deterrent and you know we would need guys like that in playoffs if we’re gonna get out of this division.

    • Derzie

      And if you disagree, show me numbers that state otherwise. I don’t care if he’s “tough.” There are players a little less tough with a lot more value for a lot less money.

  • Spiel

    Canucks want Lucic and they have the cap space with the Sedins retired. Not sure the feeling is mutual as the Canucks are in full rebuild mode. Vancouver made a big push for Lucic before he signed in Edmonton to play with McDavid. I don’t see Vancouver giving up any significant draft picks in such a deal as their management keeps saying they are trying to acquire picks. Moving a big contract off the books is worth something to the Oilers.