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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
    • Spydyr

      Well if you score one goal after Christmas and make six million a year you might be open to criticism. He is not a scapegoat he has earned and deserves his current situation.

    • And like I said in the cons, it seems very likely that he’ll rebound next year. He had a career-low shooting percentage in 2017-18 and that won’t last forever. Hell, before Christmas he was on pace for 55 points.

      • OilersBro

        He needs to play with the right players to succeed. I sound like a broken record but Lucic, Drai, and Slepy looked great against the Ducks, let’s do that again (but replace Slepy with Pulu). Stop putting Lucic in situations where there is no chemistry

      • Glencontrolurstik

        And if he got 50 or 60 points he’d be a hero all of a sudden.
        WHEN we do make the playoffs next year, he’ll be worth every penny.
        He WILL have a bounce-back year & this’ll all be forgotten.
        Much like Jet’s Fans felt like with Hellebyck (sp) last year to this year.
        He definitely improved year over year.

      • Rob...

        I’d like someone in an interview to ask him ‘how his efforts to improve his skating speed are going?’ If he’s open to a trade it makes me thing it’s not going very well.

      • Gravis82

        a bad year means more when you start to get up there in age. When you are approaching 30 a bad year is more likely to mean permanent regression, rather than a temporary blip.

        Stress, more likely, and we are never sure.

        Also, his bad year was, for the most part, a result of being ineffective at basic hockey skills such as skating fast, taking a pass, not having plays die on his stick and receiving a pass. If it was just about being unlucky with a low shooting percentage or weird deployment, they sure, but it was clear by eye that there were issues with the fundamentals. Do things like that ever regress non-permanently?

  • 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.

  • Spydyr

    If the Oilers get “next to nothing in return ” that is exactly what they gave up for Lucic. In reality the cap saving is not “next to nothing” . It would go a long way in providing options desperately needed to improve the team.

    The catcher for me is that I don’t trust Chia in making the move or spending the cap savings wisely.

    • Cap savings would definitely be something worth having, but you know what I meant. I meant, actual assets coming back. But you’re right, shedding $6 million from the books would be a win, unless it gets replaced with a guy like Eriksson who also makes $6 million (one-year less on his deal, though).

        • crabman

          @tierone1fanfirelowe,

          Khaira, Nurse, Kassian and possibly whoever they bring in to fill out the bottom 6 13th, 14th forward roles.

          Lucic wasn’t the same intimidating player this year and he rarely fights anymore.
          the role of Oiler police officer was played by Khaira last year.

  • Natejax97

    Connor McDavid at exit interview on Lucic: “It doesn’t even matter if he scores, he does so much for us”. Good enough for Connor, good enough for me. I won’t claim to know what the issues are, but I hope he comes back and plays great this year.

  • crabman

    @baggedmilk,

    Although Lucic has $30M in cap hit over the next 5 years on his contract he actually is only owed $26M.

    *shout out to Thedrr*

    What if the Oilers wait until after July 1st, and pay his $3.5M signing bonus paid to him on July 1? That leaves $22.5M to be paid over 5 years or $4.5M real money. What if the Oilers are willing to retain $1M also? Now a team with cap room, a team with an internal budget or a team just trying to get to the floor, get Lucic at $3.5M/year real money at a $5M cap hit. A team’s desire to trade for Lucic would need to match a team he would waive his NMC to go to but Lucic at $3.5M will.sound good to a lot of teams, it would just he a matter of cap hit.

    • 24% body fat

      arizona? to bad he is hard analytics, however on the flip side he probably does realize that even if Lucic is regressing this is probably lower than usual and buying low on a 3.5M dollar player is a good idea.

      • 24% body fat

        the following players should have, would have, could have been oilers. But they are so F’n stupid they are not.

        Hall, Eberle, Demers, Debrincat, Barzal and Carlo.

        Lucic chosen over demers, puke

        Hall traded for a righty because oilers chose lucic over demers and a physical D in larsson over a more puck moving D in demers

        Benson over debrincat because he was born in edmonton, and small skill apparently cant be effective in the nhl

        Eberle a cap casualty because of stupid contract given out for size, grit and lay on the ice, take your self out of the play and get scored on all the time shot blocking.

        Barzal elite talent that fallen to oilers (similar to taresenko falling) but we wanted another big slow D man that played for the oilkings because our scouts are to lazy to look else where.

        Carlo would have been available and a big right handed Dman the oilers definitely would have drafted. The difference is this one can skate and has skill.

        NO HINDSIGHT, everyone knew this and everyone wanted these players and thought these were stupid moves.

  • McRaj

    I think most fans are not realizing that this is not a good sign. If Lucic is open to a trade, it is due to the constant negative attention he and his family have received since arriving in Edmonton. Not sure when we will realize we are one of the worst fan-bases out there constantly bashing and sending players out of town. We kick them when they are down instead of helping them up. Why would a free agent ever want to come here? Oh come play with Connor but if you don’t excel we will do everything in our power to never let you live it down. Horcoff, Souray, Petry, Schultz, Eberle, now Lucic. The list goes on and on, players the fan base has had a hand in sending out of town.

    • crabman

      @McRaj,

      To say, “If Lucic is open to a trade, it is due to the constant negative attention he and his family have received since arriving in Edmonton” is as much a rumor as if I was to say his personal problems off ice are caused by an affair he had with one of his kids school teachers and his wife found out. Wait, where have I heard that one before?

  • Semenko27

    I don’t think Looch is sitting home this offseason sucking on cigs and tallboys. He knows what he has to do and what is expected of him. The beast will return.

    • camdog

      When he was playing good before Christmas I wrote on here that he needed to stop fighting and take care of his hands. I got trashed hard for this comment and then within a month he couldn’t handle the puck or make a pass. It’s not just guys that fight that lose their hands, I remember it happening to Glen Anderson and it happened quick, not this quick of course. I’m still hoping it was injury or confidence issue, he can get lighter and work on his feet, but when the hands go, it doesn’t matter if you can skate like Glen Anderson, you are done.

  • OriginalPouzar

    Subject to Lucic’s agreement to waive, oubviously, I think that the player/contract is moveable if the Oilers retain apx $1.5M. The cap hit for the acquiring team would be $4.5M and its reasonable to think that Lucic will bounce back at least somewhat.

    Of course, if we trade Lucic we’ll need to acquire a top 6/middle 6 left winger – if we open up $4.5M of cap space to do so, we’ve got some wiggle room (although I’d still be against adding an aging veteran).

    I expect Lucic to remain an Oiler and I expect him to bounce back somewhat – hopefully to the 20-25-45 range.

  • 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.

  • Moonlight

    “I had heard stories throughout the season that things weren’t exactly sunshine and roses for Lucic around here…”

    I’d like to know more of these stories about Lucic that you have heard