Milan Lucic had a bad year. We know it, you know it, the team knows it, and he sure knows it.
He put up a mere 34 points playing in 82 games — the worst offensive season he had since his rookie season including a 29-game goalless stretch.
With five years left on a deal paying him $6-million a year, things are not looking well and now the rumour mill is starting to swirl.
When we look at this team moving forward, Lucic is taking up a significant portion of the cap and I don’t think moving on from him is a horrible idea.
Six-million is a big hit and if the Oilers are looking to move him there is a good chance that some cap is going to come back unless they swindle something with a team fighting to make it to the floor.
He is still an NHL player, but at 30 years old it is fair to say that he is not going to be improving much as a hockey player.
Can he bounce back? Sure — of course he can.
But at what point do you look at Lucic and say enough is enough? Will he be able to be a sixty-point guy like he once was in his career? It’s hard to say, but I would bank on that being a no.
With the game being played faster than ever, the big, bruising Lucic is a player of a dying breed. Having speed is proving to be more and more crucial in the league these days — just look at these Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The Oilers are in the driver seat here when it comes to Lucic. They could give him the Kassian/Maroon treatment and bring him back.
Both Kassian and Maroon came to the Oilers as bigger men and both of them worked to trim weight and speed up their game.
If Lucic were to lose even 10-15 lbs., there is a good chance his foot speed could improve. We saw how Kassian and Maroon became more effective players after they shed some lbs.
The Oilers, of course, have the ability to trade him as long as he gives clearance due to his full no-movement clause. This idea is one that seems to be picking up steam.
Elliotte Friedman told Bob Stauffer yesterday that there was a rumour going around last week Milan asked for a trade.
“I was told that was not the case. I asked somebody and they told me that he had not asked for it. But I believe there has been some conversation about is there a way that this can be worked on to make it happen. Look, I think this: Obviously everybody is really frustrated after last year. I think that Lucic is a guy who was frustrated. Obviously the fans are frustrated. And look, some places when things aren’t going really well, they’re very difficult be in.… But the issue here is not Milan Lucic the player, it’s Milan Lucic the contract. It’s a difficult contract to move, it’s buyout-proof, he hasn’t played well. I think all of that, it’s a huge obstacle in the way of any potential deal getting done.”
TSN’s Frank Seravalli joined Lowetide yesterday where he told him “they’re trying and talking to teams about potentially taking another contract back even if that means sweetening the pot with a pick or some other roster player in order to make it happen. They are pushing, or at least doing their due diligence and working to try and move on from Milan Lucic if they can. I just don’t know that it’s going to happen with that much term left. It’s going to be a really tough one to do.”
Where there’s smoke, there’s fire
These words are very telling and there is clearly fire surrounding this smoke.
If the Oilers are looking to move Lucic — and I think they should sit down and have a long, hard look at it — then they need to move fast.
We are nearly two weeks away from the draft where I would imagine a deal coming down.
Teams like the New York Islanders, Carolina Hurricanes, Vegas Golden Knights and New York Rangers all have $25-million plus in cap space available and could all make viable trading partners.
The connection to the Vancouver Canucks will forever be there, given Lucic is from the city. Loui Eriksson is the Canucks problem contract, but he is now 32 with four years left on his deal. For that reason, I don’t foresee that being a possible trade.
It’s all hard to predict. After all, Lucic does determine his own fate.
On Twitter: @zjlaing