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Photo Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Can the Oilers even move Milan Lucic’s contract?

Milan Lucic is a useful player on a bad contract. His seven-year $42-million deal was a curious choice from the start, but Lucic had a decent track record and in theory, the Oilers could get a few productive years before it truly became an anchor contract. That time has come far earlier. Both the Oilers and Lucic are reportedly open to a trade, which could be a saving grace for the Oilers.

5-on-5 decline

Season Team Age 5-on-5 Points 5-on-5 Points Per 60
2013-14 BOS 25 39 2.03
2014-15 BOS 26 31 1.68
2015-16 LAK 27 41 2.09
2016-17 EDM 28 23 1.21
2017-18 EDM 29 24 1.30

Lucic’s 5-on-5 scoring has fallen off since arriving in Edmonton. He’s scored at a third-line rate while Connor McDavid has been one of his top linemates.

A historic year on the power play masked this in 2016-17. He scored 12 goals and 25 power play points, the first time he reached double digits in goals with the man advantage and almost double his previous career high (7) in 2011-2012. Last season, Lucic produced what you’d normally expect from him on the power play. He had 7 points and scored 2.40 points per 60.

Can his contract be moved?

Yes, but it might require taking a similar contract with big money back. There are rumours Lucic has asked for a trade. It appears that’s not the case, but both sides are exploring the possibility.

Lucic has five years left at $6 million per year and he’ll be 31 years old by next season. That’s a lot of money, but it’s been done before.

David Clarkson’s horrendous contract was moved twice. After signing him for $5.25 million for seven years, the Leafs traded him in the second year of his contract to Columbus for Nathan Horton’s uninsured deal. Clarkson was traded again to Vegas, along with a first-round draft pick. Clarkson’s career is over but two years at $5.25 million remain on his contract.

Dion Phaneuf’s bloated contract has been traded twice already. The Maple Leafs didn’t retain any salary sending him to Ottawa, but took back smaller, short-term contracts of Milan Michalek, Colin Greening, and Jared Cowen to facilitate the move.

Phaneuf was traded again last season, but the Senators had to retain salary and take on Marian Gaborik’s deal. They retained $1.75 million of Phaneuf’s salary and the last three years of Gaborik’s contract ($4.875 million AAV). Gaborik remains a buyout possibility if he can stay healthy.

Toronto traded Phil Kessel a year into his eight-year $8 million per year contract. The Leafs didn’t retain on either Clarkson or Phaneuf, but did on Kessel. They retained $1.2 million, leaving Kessel at a $6.8-million cap hit for the Penguins.

Dave Bolland was traded from Florida to Arizona after two years of his five-year $5.5 million per year contract. Florida had to package a former 11th-overall pick in Lawson Crouse with Bolland, but also received a third-round pick and conditional second-round pick. Bolland hasn’t played since.

Buffalo and Minnesota swapped problem contracts in the Marco Scandella trade. The Sabres took on Jason Pominville’s last two years and the Wild did the same for Tyler Ennis’ contract. Ennis might be bought out this off-season, while Pominville will likely remain on Buffalo’s roster for the last year of his contract after an okay season.

Is Milan moveable?

Mar 31, 2018; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers left wing Milan Lucic (27) and Calgary Flames goaltender Mike Smith (41) fight during the third period at Scotiabank Saddledome. Calgary Flames won 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

It can be done. The Leafs have traded some huge contracts and only retained salary on arguably the best player they moved. The Oilers should be able to move Lucic, but that might mean taking another bad contract. That’s preferable to retaining salary. Lucic is already in decline and it’s unlikely he’ll return to form in his thirties given his style of play and poor skating.

Getting rid of his contract with minimal money coming back should be a priority this off-season.

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  • Steven Bergeron

    mid 30’s? The guy is only 30 as of June 7th. I don’t think he could have as bad a season this year even if he tried. Looch will have a “bounce back” season in some way, shape or form.

  • Just facts

    While there were questions about the term at the start it was hardly a “curious choice”. The team, and many if not most fans, wanted the team to be bigger and tougher. It was well reported that several other teams wanted him, some offering more $’s. So that was it was what took to get him. There were also several other players signed to similar deals that year who were several years older (Erikssen, Backus etc). It seems that both the team and the player want to move on, it’s not clear what the demand for his services will be but there is a reasonable chance there will be interest. Retaining some salary so long as it allows for a material cap saving would seem preferable to taking on a bad contract. If the team pays is bonus on July 1 his actual salary for the remainder of the contract is something like 4.5 M per year, so it might not take a lot of retention for a team with cap space but an internal budget (like Carolina, whose owner also wants to change the “culture”) to be interested in him..

  • OriginalPouzar

    “The Oilers should be able to move Lucic, but that might mean taking another bad contract. That’s preferable to retaining salary.”

    I disagree, 100% – The point of moving the contract is to open up cap space – taking back a bad contract negates that. The only benefit I see is if the contract back is for a shorter term.

    I would prefer to retain apx $1.5M – I believe Lucic has value at a cap hit of $4.5M and this would save us $4.5M on the cap for the next 5 years.

    Yes, we’d have to replace him a LW but that can be done for $4.5M or part of that $4.5M can be used on a guy like Namestnikov and another part of it on a guy like Pulock.

  • OnDaWagon

    Think maybe you guys could write an article about Milan Lucic? Haven’t seen or heard anything about him “on here” for awhile (: Your constant jabbing at the person, could legally be considered online bullying.

  • Corbs

    Mid 30’s? So now you are just making stuff up? If you’re going to write about someone at least try and be factual. Man this site has gone downhill. The writers are getting worse all the time. Check your facts and don’t write completely made up stuff.

  • Muddy

    Here’s the deal, this team was built to win a Stanley Cup unfortunately it was for the year 2012. The year before he took control of the club it was well documented that the Oilers were soft. The Western Conference took liberties with the team and basically the Oilers were bullied into the basement every year. Chia built the big bad Bruins and Lucic was a huge part of that team. He brings in Maroon, Hendricks, Gryba, Lucic and Kass and all of a sudden the Oilers are the toughest team in the league. He over payed for Milan however I believe there were other teams offering similar contracts. He passed and traded away all our speed for the size and toughness that won him the cup in Boston. The smart teams knew the league was changing but Chia had the blinders on stuck on getting bigger. We all know how that went, Winnipeg and Vegas can skate circles around this club. I can’t blame him he was just trying to strengthen the obvious weakness however you must be a trend setter and Chia seems to live a bit in the past. Going to be even harder to grab those 1-2 million dollar speedsters now after Vegas set the trend this past season.

    • ROILYDoGG$

      That’s actually incorrect because even though we sucked this year we beat Vegas 3 out of the 4 times we played them I believe. 4-6 of our players had record crap years , including Talbot and no good backup(signed new KHL goalie). Sekera gone and never returned to par due to a friggin knee brace on. He should be better next year also. I would take Lucic with a bounce back year rather than eat a contract or trade low. I would bet we are making playoffs this coming year without any other significant changes but the fact our whole team puts up what they should have.

  • Anton CP

    This and all other articles about moving Lucic proves that this site has nothing but fanboys left. Seriously, moving Lucic is NOT the priority of this season and so maybe start learning your hockey before writing any articles? Why is oilersnation kept on hiring the goofs?

    The most annoy thing is, how the Oilers fan felt about Lucic has very little to do with his performance really. You and all those haters are just angry about losing Hall and Lucic as the de facto replacement that all of you fanboys are upset about it. GET OVER IT ALREADY.

      • Anton CP

        Improve the depth and get some real veteran leadership to come in. The real thing that the Oilers need to improve for next season is their special teams. Mostly, get their head together. The Oilers were not as bad as every of the negative bloggers suggested, they were both unlucky and way over their head.

        • crabman

          @Anton CP,

          I agree the team is better than it showed last year. I also agree that the team needs to add a veteran or 2 to the lineup. The problem is having the cap space to make any significant adds, whether through trade or free agency. That’s where moving Lucic, or Sekera or Russell, becomes a priority. Lucic may bounce back, I believe he will. But I don’t think he will bounce back to a 50-60 point player. I think a good year for Lucic next season would be 40-45 points, playing physical and responsible defensively. I also expect he will need to do that from the 3rd line. $6M is too much for that role. That’s why I would look to trade him. Even if he bounces back how much and for how long is the question I would be asking.
          Just because I feel like if the opportunity to trade Lucic presents itself we should take it, it doesn’t mean I’m hating on the player. It simply means I see him as a depreciating asset and I believe there are better ways to spend the money to help improve the team. If he has another poor season it will be even harder to move him. And if he bounces back to the level I expect he will still be over paid for that role and this team has cap issues.
          I was one of the people that didn’t like the contract when it was signed but was happy to get, and liked, the player. I still don’t like the contract, and I still like the player. If he is here next year I will be rooting for him. And if he Is traded he will do well on another team getting paid $4.5M per year actual money, less if we retain any, on a team that has ample cap room.

          • Anton CP

            The problem with Lucic’s contract was simply that he was going to get paid for that among of money and it won’t matter for which team, he chose to join the Oilers only because of his loyalty to Chiarelli. If anything then it would just be a bad timing because no better available UFA at the time, so by no means that Lucic’s contract was an overpayment. Also, almost every team will have a cap issue on their way to achieve successes and as hefty as Lucic’s contract that it will just be something that the Oilers have to endure. If you want to talk about the total cap hit that the Oilers is ranked 11th as for now (which will likely move up with a new contract to Nurse), if anything that the current Oilers cap issue is not created by Lucic’s (or Russell’s) contract but more so from McDavid’s (of course, no one will ever say that McDavid is overpaid but considering he is getting paid 2m more than the 2nd highest paid player…you will suffer cap wise no matter what) and Draisaitl’s (which, he ranks 13th in NHL, on par with Steve Stamkos).

            So, ANY discussion about Lucic’s (and Russell’s) contract situation is just because no one can ever fault McDavid for getting paid so much by being the best player on the planet. However, I believe pretty soon that the Oilers fans will jump on Draisaitl bashing bandwagon (which was already gaining momentum since the beginning of last season).

          • crabman

            @Anton CP,

            My problem with Lucic”s contract the day he signed it wasn’t tha annual cap hit. It was length, the way it was structured to be virtually but out proof and the NMC. I , like the majority of people including the so called hockey experts, had issue with that. And at the time I was happy with getting Lucic and and decided not to worry about the future consequences of the deal, “that’s future problems”. Future problems arrived a few seasons early but now a real opportunity may have arrived to move what I thought was an unmovable contract. I would take the opportunity.
            You are right most teams have a bad contract or 2. Even some competitive teams. The difference is Edmonton has no pipeline of prospects pushing for NHL time and ready to be cheap options in important roles so the team feels a bad contract more than a team with a better prospect pool. Yes McDavid makes a boatload of cash. He also drives the teams offence. The team dominates when he is on the ice and your right no one complains that the best player in the world gets paid like he is the best player in the world. Many people complain about Draissitl already, I’m not on of them. He may be a slight overpay but I would make a bet on a player in his early 20s repeating his top10 scoring as he ages than betting on a late 20s power forward repeating his past performances.
            Nothing I am saying should sound crazy to anyone and I’m not running the guy down or trying to run him out of town. I don’t think I ever attacked his character, or referred to him as a “boat anchor”, or as a “dinosaur” which I have heard far too many times around here. I would rather keep him than take on another bad contract unless the player makes around the same money, us on a 1-3 year deal max and can still contribute as a middle 6 forward or still play a regular shift on defence. I still think he can play a regular shift and be useful as s 3LW today. In 3 years maybe, maybe not. So if there is an option to part ways now and replace him with s stop gap $2M player now and use the rest of the cap space to improve the team in another position, I see that as the right move. Doesn’t mean I’m hating on the player.

        • camdog

          Oilersnation compiles lists of potential UFA signings all summer and then one signs there tends to be about 40 stories that year stating it’s an over pay…

          • ROILYDoGG$

            I totally agree Camdog our fans suck !
            And you know the worst ones , the ones that never played hockey or don’t know how to skate that’s the funny thing. Same goes with youth hockey, the hockey moms are the worst complainers and Analyists and never played a game ever yet everyone’s a critic .

        • Anton CP

          Normally any players that came off UFA will like to have a long term contract and that will be unavoidable if that player is the best available in the field. So even if anyone believed that contract’s term is too long that is just what will be. Players themselves knew that they will likely hit the wall when they start turning 30 so this will be likely the last biggest contract that any player can get. You will not ever get a player with high tier for cheap or short-term, that is how the thing is. The only two options at the time were, signing him to big money with long term or NOT signing him at all. It is very hard to get the best FA on market without actually paying him, that is reality.

          • crabman

            @Anton CP,

            and this is why it is best to build through the draft and trade from position of strength to fill positions of weakness. It is also the reason why dispite not liking the conditions of the contract I looked past that at the time of signing and was happy to have Lucic on the Oilers.
            Chiarelli walked into a tough situation with a real lack of prospects and in year 1 made that problem even worse. He tried to build quickly and forced some moves that didn’t need to happen if he was a little more patient.
            The problem with the contract wasn’t even just the dollars and length either though. The NMC and large amount of signing bonuses leave the team with less options if the deal disn’t work out. It was a risky contract from day 1 whether that is the norm or not.

    • Hemmercules

      The reason most oilers fans are sour about lucic has EVERYTHING to do with his performance. Unless I’m misinterpreting your comment somehow? Lucic is a good guy, he’s tough and brings something to the table when he’s on his game. This has zero to do with Hall. It’s about paying a guy 6.5 mil when he could barley make or take a pass in the last 3 months of the season. The only good thing he did in the last half of the season was punch the flames goalie in the face. They need more of that emotion from him and hopefully he can find his confidence again if he remains with the team.

      • Anton CP

        What performance? So he struggled for half a season, and then? Also, get his contract right, it is 6m cap hit, not 6.5m. Lucic was never at any point of his career a top tier scorer, he has TWO seasons that he scored more than 60 points. Again, what kind of performance are you talking about? This is stupid and frustrating because Lucic was NEVER signed as a top tier scorer. So by criticizing his performance pretty much that you guys expect him to duplicate what Hall was doing. That was insane and ignorant, remember a guy named Ovechkin? He also has two seasons score less than 70 points, do player will struggle at certain point of their career. It is typical Oilers fans reaction: so he has a bad season…let’s burn him at the stake! How many players were either traded or buried like that? Where do you think DoD came from?

        • Hemmercules

          “So by criticizing his performance pretty much that you guys expect him to duplicate what Hall was doing.” That may be one of the goofiest comments I have ever seen on this website.

          I fail to see how criticizing his performance this season has anything to do with Taylor Hall?? Hall was gone two years ago. When a guy has a terrible year and eats a good chunk of the cap there will be criticism and I think thats fair, it makes no difference who he was traded for or signed to replace. Any sane person should know he’s a different than Hall and shouldn’t be expected to produce on that level. There have been Lucic haters from the beginning. I’m not one of them but I wasn’t overjoyed with the contract he got at the time and I wasn’t too happy with his overall game for most of this season. I felt he brought something to the team that they needed, and he did that last year. This year he fell off a cliff in more ways than one. I have said on here many times that they should give him another shot here before shipping him out but we will see how Chia feels fairly soon.

      • Anton CP

        Ok, I have to make it clear. The criticism toward Lucic was not only materialized since the beginning of 2018, the moment Lucic signed his contract with the Oilers that you can hear the endless chatter about how many view it was a terrible decision. It only got a bit quieter when the Oilers made to the playoffs last season then the haters quickly returned after Lucic struggled for most of 2018. So, when I said that the hate on Lucic has nothing to do with his performance because the haters were hating him long before he struggled. Otherwise we won’t get so many pop-ups once the rumor mill rolling, how many articles are about Lucic already?

  • Hemmercules

    Overdoing it a bit much with the looch articles. Does this team have no other problems worth writing about? I sincerely hope he didnt ask for a trade. That doesn’t look good for the team or the player. Being a professional I’m not surprised he is willing to accept one weather he wants to leave or not but I hope they give him another chance rather than dumping him for a bad contract or some random prospects another team doesn’t want anymore. He has control over the move so we will see if anything even happens. I’m not fully apposed to trading him but it doesn’t feel like a winning situation. Maybe there’s a deal out there that works but I’m sure he’s just as determined to have a bounce back season a many other guys on the team. Chia is a knee jerk kinda guy so it feels more likely than not something goes down.

  • Heschultzhescores

    Seems some fans are only happy when they are making someone a scapegoat and running them out of town. Then they wonder why no free agents want to sign here. Give the guy a break, he had one bad year, and actually it was only half the year.

    • Big Nuggets

      the scapegoating should stop when the team can actually wins some games. As for trading Lucic, it would be good to move that contract but next offseason would likely be better. I think he will be a little better next season.

  • RexHolez

    Can we please stop with these absurd Lucic articles? It’s driving me completely insane.

    Let’s get it clear. No one in the organization as far as I know has said anything about wanting to trade lucic. Milan or any of his representatives havnt said anything about wanting a trade. Fair enough?

    I’d be mad if chiarelli didn’t talk to every gm about all of his players for the simple fact of gauging the market for every player on his team.

    So, a reporter finds out chia is talking about lucic and the next 10 articles on oilersnation is about how bad lucic is and what the oilers would have to give up just to get rid of him?

    Not one single article sticking up for the guy? Not one single article explaining that he’s been a 20/30 guy his entire career? Not one single article explaining that he was on track with his career average up until Christmas?

    bad half of a year and everyone here wants to throw him off a cliff? For the love of gord, I just read an article about trading him for Corey F’n Perry!!!

    It breaks my heart

    Maybe there’s a reason this team is worst pro team

  • Dallas Eakins Hair

    Well as we have witnessed albatross contracts can be moved for a price, it’s been done more than a few times over the last few years, but it’s going to cost a team to rid themselves of one and they are usually taking a contract back and either giving up player(s) prospects or picks to facilitate a trade. To try and trade Lucic now means the Oil will take a hit ina few different ways, because after last season that Lucic had, finding a trading partner who isnt going to want the shirt of your back too is not going to be easy.

    If I was Chia I would be telling Lucic, he is better of coming to camp a little leaner, meaner and hungry and try and pot some goals and boost teams intrest in him, cause I dont see teams lining up to do a deal after last season and with that much term to go. If Lucic wants to go him driving up his trade value needs to happen, otherwise we are going to be giving up way more than we will get out of the deal and the Oil aren’t dealing from a position of strength here, and we have seen how that has worked out in past trades already!

  • ROILYDoGG$

    With one bad season (half season actually) you don’t trade away or eat half a contract , that’s poor cap management regardless of the size. Our whole team sucked last year and put up less points then normal except MCD of course do we trade them too? We can’t afford to give a draft pick to a team to take him either that’s even more dumb considering our lack of depth. I would rather play him on the 3rd line if he sucks again and add someone to that spot but I believe he will bounce back lighter and faster to camp this year. When will they release the cap ceiling raise ? I think we need to look at budget ufa, Rfa and believe that the team that was forecasted to go deep in the playoffs will bounce back from just a crap season. Hopefully Marody can fill a spot , ufa with Benning , cadjula improving by gaining playing experience and hitting the 200 games mark by Jan

  • ROILYDoGG$

    Come on fans (supposedly) Schultz, Ebs,Lucic… who’s next 20 year old puljarvi then Klefbom ? Need to stop this madness of bashing and chasing players out of here. Support your team ,if you choose not to then don’t watch it, but stop the negativity

  • Clyde Frog

    The problem isn’t that Milan is overpaid by $6 million, it is that he is overpaid by 1-2.5 million based on 30-55 pts a season.

    So retaining cap space or giving up high picks seems silly. If we retain 1 million the best case scenario we end up with is we save 1.5 million after we replace lucic…