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Photo Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

The Plan for Milan

Since this time last week, it has become pretty clear the Oilers are shopping Milan Lucic and more importantly, Lucic is all right with it, more than all right with it. Is now the right time to move Lucic? No. Whether you are a fan of Lucic or not I think we can all agree that the Oilers will be moving an asset when his value is at an all-time low.

Oilers President of Hockey Operations Peter Chiarelli is dealing with two major issues right now. He has a player who he signed just two years ago that is now, all of a sudden, more than willing to waive his no-movement clause to get out of town. I’ve been told that the number of teams Lucic would not accept a trade to is very small.

I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that a Lucic trade is closer to being a matter of when not if or maybe more importantly how?

Immediately following the season, it seemed like Chiarelli’s main reason to move Lucic was because the player struggled. Two months later it appears as though Chiarelli is now attempting to move a player who is seemingly lacking desire to remain with the Oilers.

Lucic moves on in one of two types of deals. The Oilers could ship him out for another “bad” contract in return or they add to him and free up the cap space. At this point, I think the cap space deal is what Chiarelli is hoping for.

So the next question and the main reason for this article is what the plan should be for the cap space acquired in this deal.

I’m going to assume Chiarelli will need to retain about $1,000,000 per season leaving him with $5,000,000 to work with when free agency opens on July 1st. This money will need to be reinvested on the wings.

Here are a few options that would be available to the Oilers post-Lucic trade.

JAMES VAN RIEMSDYK (LW)

Age: 29
17-18 Stats: 80gp 36g 18a 54pts

The $5,000,000 per year freed up in a Lucic deal would not be enough to bring in JVR but with the additional cap space, they should have available after signing their RFA’s they might be able to make a deal work.

Van Riemsdyk may not be the likeliest of options available but I do think he would be the best one if you can make it work. Right now this is nothing more than a pipe dream for Oilers fans but getting a deal made for Lucic in the next three weeks would change that.

JAMES NEAL (RW)

AGE: 30
17-18 Stats: 70gp – 25g – 19a – 44pts

I’ve already seen some folks thinking the Oilers may be able to take a run at Neal without moving Lucic; I don’t think that’s possible. Neal becomes a very attainable target when the Lucic deal goes down.

Neal has scored at least 20 goals in every season of his 10 year NHL career. He has been to back-to-back Stanley Cup finals and has 100 career playoff games under his belt. Neal can play with an edge at times but sometimes appears to be a little too dramatic for my liking. He would be an ideal fit on the wing with Draisaitl.

ILYA KOVALCHUK (LW/RW)

AGE: 35
17-18 Stats: 53gp – 31g – 32a – 63pts

A 35-year old Kovalchuk is likely not the answer to the Oilers problems but he once again isn’t even an option until Lucic is traded. Kovalchuk spent this past weekend meeting with teams in California. Would he take the time to come to Edmonton for a visit if the Oilers promised him they’d have the space to sign him?

He won’t be the same player he was when he left the NHL but the bottom line is goals are extremely difficult to come by and he hasn’t lost the ability to put the puck in the back of the net.

RICK NASH (LW/RW)

AGE: 33
17-18 Stats: 71gp – 21g – 13a – 34pts

If Lucic had one of the most disappointing seasons in the NHL this past season Rick Nash couldn’t have been far behind him. The good thing about signing Nash would be that you’d still have cap space left to add another piece either up front or on the back end.

If you could get Nash and his 20-25 goals for around $3,500,000 per year you would have to look at it. Spoiler alert, he will let you down in the playoffs…if you make it.

RILEY NASH (C/RW)

AGE: 29
17-18 Stats: 76gp – 15g – 26a – 41pts

The second Nash on this list doesn’t come with the name recognition as the first but is likely a more impactful player at this stage of his career. After putting up 41 points last season is it crazy to think he has more in the tank?

He would provide McLellan with more flexibility when juggling his line up. I’m putting him on this list because I’m not sure they’d be able to sign him without moving the Lucic money.

THE WRAP…

Where is Thomas Vanek? I think Vanek may fit into their budget even if Lucic sticks around.

Chiarelli could also be looking at a third option where he trades Lucic for cap space and then moves other assets in a deal for a player under control with a cap hit around $5,000,000. The issue here is what are you possible moving and would it be worth it compared to signing one of the other guys I’ve mentioned.

If Lucic is moved prior to July 1st, the first few hours of free agency will be very exciting for Oilers fans.

Recently by Dustin Nielson



  • RexHolez

    let’s move out a bad contract so we can sign another free agent to a bad contract. Lucic has one bad year. My question is if you have so little faith in a player that you’d move him after 1 down year, why would you sign him to a 6×7 deal in the first place?

    Just another example in a long, long line of examples of how terrible and pathetic this organization Is dating back long before chia.

    Why do I come to oilersnation to read about this team? I hate everything about how the oilers operate, yet here I am posting on a fan site. What’s wrong with me?

  • dsanchez1973

    If they sign any of the people on your list, two years from now we will be in exactly the same situation – multiple years left on a bad contract that we need to get out of. Get rid of Lucic, save the cap space, and plunder someone at the deadline.

  • oilredemption

    So are we not going to mention that Riley Nash was originally an oiler first round pick and he would be coming back full circle. Also unlikely he would come back seeing how he never wanted to sign here in the first place

  • DoubleOhhStoned

    So what’s the story here. He wants out, after signing a 7 year deal with an NMC? Why is a player signing a contract with a no movement clause if he’s not committed to seeing it out? He had a bad year, so it’s hard to envision a team looking at him thinking he’s the answer to anything other than reaching the cap floor. the entire thing seems strange to me. Feeling hurt? Wife unhappy? Chia told him he’s going to be a 3rd liner here so if he can’t take that it’s time to move?

    • Hockeysense9393

      This reminds of the Pronger dayz! He woke up too…and he was like WTF did I sign? Agent…get me out of here fast, or your fired!! Everybody scrambling to get out of Edmonton. Same old same old same old………………..

      • The literal entire Flames team is saying “Get me out of Calgary!” and going to Houston. You can flame away on here, I bet you’re just covering up the pain of losing your team. Enjoy your annual trip to Texas.

        • Hockeysense9393

          Again…! Hmmm…so the NHL works like crazy, even to the point of taking over a floundering franchise like the Coyotes so they will never move out of their market. Flames are one of the top money generating franchises for the last decade (ironically until this year) and then suddenly they are in a huge scare tactic to move? Not Carolina, Florida, Buffalo, or Columbus….but the Flames? Sooo who’s gonna blink first lol.

    • crabman

      @DoubleOhhStoned,

      I think a player has a NMC put in their contract so they have all the control. Can’t be buried in the AHL back riding the bus and he gets to choose where he gets traded to. Not because he wants to stay in his new city at all costs.
      Reasons for wanting to go could be one or all of your suggestions.
      I know he was grinning ear to ear on the day he was signed and was gushing about the opportunity to play with McDavid. After last season I doubt he sees McDavid’s wing again. All of a sudden being in a small city that has harsh winters and a hockey crazed market isn’t worth staying in once you struggle and don’t get to play with the player you signed here to play with.

    • Sasky89

      Bobby Ryan’s contract is worse then Lucic’s, not to mention he really isn’t a better skater and doesn’t bring a physical element. Karlsson has 1 year left before he is due a massive salary upgrade.

    • QuitForRealThisTime

      Not sure why this trashed to much…to much focus on getting Ryan…. Getting Karlsson is a clear will. Now if the Sens to a sign and trade where he is under contract for sure. Although you are now adding a 1st instead of a second. Ryan is capable when motivate. You keep Ryan or 1 year then convince Seattle to take him in the expansion draft by offering up a pick/prospect.

    • Hockeysense9393

      You actually believe that Karlsson would touch Coilerland? You guys need to wake up…and revolt!!! Walk the streets and picket!!! No more Chia-Pets!!!

  • Craig1981

    Media reports say the Oilers reached out to Kovalchuk and he wasn’t interested.

    It now does appear Lucic, will be traded. A UFA that wants out after two years can only solidify Edmonton being a place no one wants to sign.

    • QuitForRealThisTime

      Read the comments on this site after he struggled for 4 months of those two years. Would you want to stay, the ‘fans’ can make this a very uncomfortable place.

      • Rob...

        No offense, but I only want players with enough backbone to accept criticism when not living up to expectations, especially when being handed millions of dollars for that expected level of performance. Now, if ‘fans’ are taking it out on his wife or kids, that’s different. Expose the cretins and make public examples of them.

          • Rob...

            Yup, and the reaction is going to run the gambit, from those who hate just because he was a Bruin, or is a feared fighter, to those who will cheer for him regardless what he does on the ice. Someone who chooses to be a professional athlete should be prepared for that from the moment he/she decides on their career choice.

  • Cowboy Bill

    Not sure why they really want to get rid of the incredible Hulk . Maybe because he doesn’t transform himself very often anymore . if they do trade him it has to be to an eastern team .

    • SSB1963

      Knee jerk reaction from Chia! It seems like one bad season and you are gone, and I was never a Lucic fan! But I believe he brings things to the table that we still desperately need.

      • Daryl Katz

        I don’t think he brought it enough last year to be honest and when he wasn’t scoring or playing physical or able to keep up with the play, he wasn’t any use to us at all.

  • OilersBro

    No to Ilya or Nash unless the price is right and I very much think those dudes will be overpaid.

    Don’t move him on a down year to replace with a guy who’s coming off a career year (shooting % wise).

    Also if I’m Todd McLellan, I’m giving Lucic the green light to get himself physically engaged each game. Take as many major penalties as you want. Be a d**k. If you can’t beat the goalie, then do what you did with Mike Smith and literally beat the goalie.

  • McRaj

    I find it funny how no one here will admit that the fans play a part in this. Face it, we are one of the three worst fan bases (along with leafs and habs) on making it hard on players. Since the moment he was signed, fans were waiting for the first chance to take shots at him. One bad year and everyone jumped on the “Make Milan’s life hell” bandwagon. I laugh at all these suggestions of UFA’s we can get. Why would any player want to come here? You can’t go out with your family without being noticed, the weather is crap, not much to do in the city compared to other NHL cities, the team has missed playoffs 11 of 12 years, management is incompetent, and there is a brutal fan base who if you don’t over exceed your contract, will jump on you the first chance they get. If I was a free agent with no emotional ties to the Oilers, Edmonton would likely be the last place I would want to sign. #TruthHurts.

      • McRaj

        Not comments on a website. But all over twitter, all in the media, heckling players and their families when they are out. If you don’t think these things get back to a player you must live under a rock. 15 years ago, things were different. In today’s world, players know what is said about them from fans/media.

        • jdubs

          The players today are accustomed to social media. They have grown up with it as much as the fans have. There’s an immaturity amongst a player if they want to bail because they had a bad season. Why don’t we see Talbot wanting out? I’m not excusing management entirely for this contract of Lucic, but I’m putting more on Lucic for not holding up his end of the deal. Can’t blame fans, can’t blame weather…..but the player didn’t do a good job last season….

  • ifiwasgm

    Edm’s direction to their finacial adviser;
    “buy high, and sell low”
    “its gotta work at some point”
    “plus its not our money”
    “its the fans money, and they don’t care what we do”

  • Which team is stupid enough to take an older dinosaur player like Lucic and pay him $5 million per for 5 years? The Oilers would have to trade some other assets in order to get a team to make this trade. $5 mil will not be enough to sign a much needed free agent so the Oilers will have to make another move to free up $.

    • camdog

      This might surprise you, but there are many contracts out there as bad as Lucic’s and other teams have found ways to trade those players. I know shocking…

      • QuitForRealThisTime

        No, the Oilers are the only management ever to have made decision that this not work. The only NHL team with brown grass. Everyone is waaay smarter that Chia. Especially the Oilernation hindsight geniuses.

      • Hockeysense9393

        Ummmm I was gonna say “no comment”? But common! Calgary wouldn’t be that stupid. Flames make silly decisions like…waste 4th round picks on 5’7” college players that nobody else looks at. Just think if we actually had a chance (over and over) on 1st picks? Nobody else would get a chance with the cup, and it wouldn’t be fair. Hence…conspiracy theory!!

    • crabman

      @islandjet,

      If a team waits until July 1 when Lucic gets his $3.5M signing bonus and the Oilers eat $1M per year the new team actually only pays him $3.5M per year. A team with an internal budget that doesn’t spend to the cap could be very happy with Lucic at $3.5M per.

  • CMG30

    Lucic was brought in to ride shotgun for McDavid and to provide leadership, ‘grit’, be good-in-the-room and provide all those pesky can’t-be-measured ‘intangibles’ sorely lacking in a ‘soft’ team. On reputation alone, he was given a stupid contract to entice him here even after he had been struggling for years elsewhere.

    After arrival, Maroon promptly ate his lunch and forced him down to the 2nd line since he coudn’t keep up with McDavid, rarely fought and couldn’t score. Now scuttlebutt has him willing to hop almost any train out of town. So much for showing leadership.

    So what went wrong here?
    1. Brain trust ignored current performance and trend lines of a player on the downward side of his career.
    2. Another example of the mentality among Oilers management (and far to many fans) that dramatically overvalues ‘grit’ and ‘intangibles’ at the expense of actual hockey skills. It will never be admitted, but the primary reason Hall had to go was to make room for this guy.

    Now, Lucic is coming off the worst year of his career so do you sell? Ordinarily no. However, this case may be the exception since even a bounce back year by Lucic will still leave us with a mediocre player who is now clearly past his prime. So what exactly are we holding on to? This team needs players who can contribute, not players who used to contribute elsewhere. This team would be far better off to find the next Lucic, not the washed up version.

    • camdog

      Hall was gone because he disrespected the head coach (and many other head coachs along the way) a few years ago when he sprayed him with water. Hall was a goner, long before PC was named GM. Katz, Mactavish and Lowe were thumbs up to “changing the culture” because Hall never grew up. To be fair to Hall he never grew up because the Oilers model from Lowe/Tambellini/Mactavish was all amateur hour and did not provide the support needed for the kids to succeed.

      The link between Hall and Lucic is not real. Hall was a goner regardless of who the new GM was.

    • Oilman99

      The turnaround in team performance in 2017 made it look like the Lucic deal was a good move as it appeared that he had injected a new attitude and was providing leadership. Where that went last year nobody knows, as it appeared the team had reverted back to the same level of performance as before. If the guy can show the leadership, and bounce back from a down year,his trade value next summer or at the deadline should improve.

    • The Future Never Comes

      They already have enough guys that will actually stand up for McD and other teammates; such as, Nurse, Khaira, Kassian. Lucic doesn’t really fight nor stand up anymore.

  • Total Points

    I think the Oilers would have to pay 2 M of Lucic’s salary, therefore keep him. He is probably worth 4M, same as Russel. It seems he wants out (his comments when we left for the summer).

  • he shoots he scars

    If Lucic wants out, and only to a few teams, Oilers are squeezed. The other team knows they don’t have to give up much of anything. When Luongo wanted out of Vancouver, Florida was the only option he gave the Canucks, and that deal was Luongo and a Steve Anthony for bottom rosters Jacob Markstrom and Shawn Mattias. Oilers will be lucky to get similar spare parts. Lucic’s salary is front loaded and bonus loaded, the team picking him up won’t be using a lot of $$, they just need the cap space (no trade will happen until his $3.5m signing bonus is paid out). If Lucic wants to break a deal and leave, don’t allow him a short list that handcuffs the Oilers. Time to Joe Sakic him, Oil will accommodate Lucic for a trade but on their terms and timeframe; if Lucic plays better he potentially speeds up the process.

    • Oilfan69

      Good point if you look at it in dollar terms, if traded after july 1 ( or whenever his signing bonus is due) milan has a 5 year contract left with 22.5 million remaining. This means in the last 5 years of his contract he is owed 4.5 million of actual salary per year without the oilers eating salary. If you look at teams that aren’t cap teams a 4.5 million lucic probably isn’t a terrible idea. Sure it is a 6 million dollar cap hit but in many markets that is a positive 🙂

    • The Future Never Comes

      I am still surprised by the amount of people who say “but he has to waive to go there”, it is quite clear he wants out. The whole city has turned on him, players and management know he wants out, that has got to be a lot to handle. Please tell me what city he would not go to? He doesn’t like small town living, the Oiler’s are probably one of the smallest city’s with an NHL team, he doesn’t like the hockey is life theme here, he doesn’t like the climate, he has not had success here, and the negativity is at an all time frenzy for him. Please, at this point he will take any trade willingly, I would bet my last dollar on it.

  • camdog

    People really need to stop hating on Lucic because “Hall’s money” was spent on him. It was a bad contract and a bad bet, but the emotional undertones some fans have to some players based on what they get paid is ridiculous. The Shawn Horcoff rants on how much a guy gets paid were old then and only older now.

  • OriginalPouzar

    I am against taking bad contract or adding a material sweetener to dispose of Lucic. I could be on board with retaining part of his cap hit, say $1.5M . At a cap hit of $4.5M, Lucic likely has some value and a sweetener should not need to be added.

    Not to mention, after his $3.5M bonus is paid on July 1, for the last 5 years of his contract, his cap hit is much higher than actual dollars received which likely makes the contract attractive to an internal budget/cap team.

    One large issue is the continuation of his NMC. A team will not want to take the contract if the NMC continues and they have to protect Lucic in the expansion draft. As per the CBA, the acquiring team has the option to allow the trade protection to continue or to die. Of course, they would want it to die, however, Lucic could make it a condition of his waiver that the clause continues.

  • jdubs

    Long time reader….I’m commenting for the first time ever.

    As a huge fan of my Oilers, I’m not going to take the blame for a player wanting out. While there are certainly reasons Lucic may want out, I think there is an immaturity to his case if he does. He came here willingly and enthusiastically to play in a new building and with a generational player. And in his second year in, he didn’t have very much success. I believe that we too often give these players an “excuse” to not want to be here. We use the excuses of Edmonton being a difficult hockey market to play in, or the weather (if it’s so bad, then how do over 1 million of us keep grinding it out year after year), or management… I’m not buying any of it. He signed here and got a great contract (for himself personally!)…so my question to these players are where is your commitment to fulfill your side of the bargain? Money aside, I’m losing respect for players (more than management) in professional sports who sign, but then want to get out if it doesn’t quite go their way. It’s a sign of immaturity on their part.

    I don’t really care what happens to him if he stays or goes. I don’t care what anybody makes in terms of money. I just care that players start to give back to any organization for what they wanted in the first place. If Lucic signed enthusiastically for the time and money that he did, I think he has an obligation to fulfill it as best as he can. If he has a bad year, that’s on him. Not “Joe Fan” or a -28C wind chill. These players need to take some responsibility and own it. It’s on Lucic to turn his lackluster season into something better this year.

    I’m interested to see responses to this….

    • M22

      Great first post. This is 100%, spot on.

      My take: IF it’s true that Lucic has asked out, then screw him, he can leave ONLY when it’s best for the Oilers. OTOH, if Chiarelli initiated the conversation with Lucic, then it’s fair game if he accepts being moved, and waives hic NMC.

      • I agree. You came here wanting a chance to play with McDavid, don’t huff and puff now that Nugent-Hopkins took your spot, scoring 1 goal in 40 games isn’t on Chiarelli, McLellan, McDavid, Oilersrisetoglory on reddit, or baggedmilk’s fault. You were given an “A” to be a leader, it’s time to act like one.

    • Reg Dunlop

      Commitment has to go both directions. Oil committed to Milan in a major way. Looks like the big man didn’t return the favor. This is a recurring theme amongst free agent signings, adding weight to the draft and develop strategy.
      You should post here more often. You seem reasonable, but this team will beat that out of you.

    • jdubs

      why doesn’t anyone want to acknowledge that a reason that Talbot had a tough year is that he’s a new father to twins….and don’t use his salary as an excuse to say “they can afford the childcare, etc”….what an adjustment his life must’ve been to not just one new child, but two…and then he’s on the road half the year? cmon, that’s gotta be stressful…all my buddies with kids go through it….why would we expect a pro-athlete to be free from the stress?

      He will bounce back..

    • Hockeysense9393

      You guys can’t even get a #1 pick (over and over) to make a difference! How the mother @&$%# do you expect this year to help? Best case scenario? Add your 1st rounder so you can get rid of Lucic…then he can actually go play some hockey and win. I’m sure he’s already forgotten what it feels like to be on a competent team. He’ll be so happy…that he will get back to normal and actually play real hockey again. Best case scenario (for Lucic). I actually feel sorry for the guy!

      • chezzychez

        I absolutely, 100% believe that this year’s 1st, 2nd and 3rd round picks are going to be ready for next season. Probs the later round picks will be ready later in the season/start of the following season. We’re that good at drafting.

  • OilersGM

    For the love of God stay away from JVR and Neal. These are Lucic 2.0 so why get rid of Lucic than.
    I’m all for moving Lucic but not just for the sake of moving one bad one and bringing in another. This is how people make stupid mistakes by repeating them over and over again. #becauseoilers

  • The poster formerly known as Koolaid drinker #33

    So my uncle who is in the same chess club in Rancho cucamungo with a close friend of the sister of a high ranking member of the OEG told him that the reason why Lucic wants out is because Drai pulled a Comrie on him. Remember Drai’s concussion early in the season. Yeah that was Milan.

  • puckle-head

    Why would they sign any of those guys? How have we not learned from the mistakes of so many GMs and the success of Vegas? Unless they are a very good defense man (who tend to handle the age curve better) or are a bonified super star, do not give large contracts to big-name 30 year olds. The market is due for a massive correction because gms keep giving enormous contracts for 28-32 year old players for work they did when they were 24. It has to stop, it’s bitten so many teams in the ass, and yet here we are talking about signing a 29 year old jvr or a 30 year old Neal. Just…. don’t do it. Let some other team make that mistake.

    • Hockeysense9393

      Hence the problem CWB… short of a 1 sided trade, no #1 defenseman wants to sign with the Oilers when the current management system is in power. The only reason Lucic signed in the first place is because he was offered an inflated contract. Until things change from the top down…not even playing with McDavid will bring “high end” talent anymore without huge dollar signs. He is a consummate professional absolute…but how long can even the best player in the league hold his tongue? Will he hold his breath and hope, for 8 looong years? Or will he eventually come out and rake his employers? That is the question…

  • Anton CP

    Lucic’s situation is not that complicated. Only two options on how to deal with Lucic: 1) Keep him and hope he can turn around, 2) trade him for a bag of pucks just to open up some cap room. No reason to trade Lucic for another player because the Oilers have no reason to take another big contract in return.