Given the reports that have surfaced over the past week, it’s clear Milan Lucic could be dealt within the next month. What appeared to be just a pipe dream for Oilers fans, now seems to be a legitimate rumour.
Elliotte Friedman threw some extra fuel onto the fire in his most recent edition of 31 Thoughts.
I’d heard rumours he’d asked for a trade, but that was denied. However, it’s clear he and the Oilers are working together to gauge interest. It doesn’t look like an easy trade to make without taking back a big contract, but the team seems confident there will be a fit.
Combine that with the report that the Oilers would be willing to sweeten the pot in order to move on from the 30-year-old and there’s no denying that this thing has legs.
If a deal does get done, what could it look like? Here are some possibilities:
BAD CONTRACT OUT, BAD CONTRACT IN
This scenario has been discussed more than enough and it’s the simplest. The Oilers trade Milan Lucic and his $6 million price tag for another struggling player with a bad contract.
Names like Loui Eriksson, Brandon Sutter, or Bobby Ryan are examples of guys who could use fresh starts and have some ugly deals. The quality of player and the attached contract will determine what the Oilers would have to add to a potential move.
The pros of this move are that the Oilers probably wouldn’t have to retain any money and would hopefully get a player with either a smaller cap hit or less term than Lucic. The cons would be that it has minimal cap savings and there’s no guarantee the player coming back is any better than Lucic.
This scenario is pretty straightforward and on the surface, appears to be the most likely.
If the Oilers find a team that believes Lucic can bounce back from a poor season, they might be willing to move assets straight up for the winger, but the Oilers would have to keep $1-2 million of his deal.
The pros to this move are that the Oilers would free up some much-needed cap space and it likely wouldn’t require them to bring in a different crippling contract.
The problem here is that if the Oilers retain $2 million, they need to go out and replace Milan Lucic and his top-nine roster spot for less than $4 million. There are some interesting UFA names and lots of options on the trade market but the bottom line is that if they retain money on Lucic, they need to have a cost-effective replacement ready.
ADD A THIRD TEAM
This scenario is the most complicated, but I think it could be the best route for the Oilers.
If you remember, back at the trade deadline, the Ottawa Senators flipped Derrick Brassard to the Vegas Golden Knights so they could retain 40% of his salary before dealing him to the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Vegas essentially got Ryan Reaves and a 4th round pick in exchange for keeping $2 million of Brassards deal. I think that could be a trend that becomes increasingly popular around the league, even if the NHL isn’t a big fan of teams essentially trading for money.
If the Oilers threw in a sweetener, would a team like Carolina or Arizona be interested in a move where they eat some money and get a package of picks in exchange?
With Lucic then only making $4 million, it would be much easier to send him to a team like Montreal or Buffalo (who are both rumoured to be in search of a culture reset but need to watch the cap) and possibly even get a decent return.
Lucic’s no-movement clause is no doubt the biggest obstacle, but Friedman seems to be implying that the Oilers and Lucic are working together on finding him a new home. That leads me to believe there are more than a few cities he’d be willing to waive for.
On top of that, there’s finding a team that believes Lucic can bounce back and has the financial ability to bring in his contract, or finding a rare third team that would simply acquire cap space.
My best guess would be that a potential Milan Lucic deal might look similar to the deal I mentioned above that saw Vegas jump in and take a chunk of Derick Brassard’s deal. The only difference I could see is the Oilers adding a sweetener to the third team for taking the money.
The CBA also states “A player’s contract can only be traded twice in a retained salary transaction” which means the Oilers could keep a portion of Lucic’s deal and allow a third team to keep more money.
I don’t have any inside information on things, but allow me to play armchair GM here and put together a proposal:
If the Oilers packaged the 10th overall pick and Milan Lucic, would the Pittsburgh Penguins consider sending back Phil Kessel? This scenario would also see a third team step in and eat around $2-3 million of Lucic’s deal, which would give the Penguins the financial flexibility they need.
The Oilers would get Kessel, who could step right into their top-six and contribute much more than Lucic did. Kessel does make 800k more than Lucic but his deal ends a year earlier, which obviously benefits the Oilers.
That deal is probably a pipe dream, but I wanted to put some names into a proposal to better illustrate the type of deal I’m talking about.
On the surface, a simple one-for-one, with a potential sweetener on Edmonton’s end, does seem like the easiest way to get this done. However, the more I think about it, the more I think we might see Peter Chiarelli get really creative with this move.