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Photo Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

How to trade Milan Lucic

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

Vancouver Canucks forward Loui Eriksson in front of Ottawa Senators goalie Craig Anderson

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.

RETAIN MONEY

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.

THE HURDLE

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

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.

  • Spydyr

    I get it there is not much to talk about this time of year but you have beaten the Lucic story into the ground. If you would have put as much effort into an edit button there would be one by know.

  • AlexTheOilersFanSince2006

    You don’t. And anybody who downvotes are probably the same people who’ve stopped to the low level of heckling and harassing Lucic’s family!

  • HockeyYoda

    For the record, I like the Oilers even though I don’t live there, but I’m not a diehard fan so I don’t have the “homer” glasses on when assessing the team and potential moves. Watching Lucic this year was painful. It was simply amazing to me how often the play died on his stick, that is…if he could get there in time. His 1 goal in 40 games or whatever it was is ridiculously bad, especially for someone who plays in the top 6 on most nights. Yes, Lucic and the 10th pick for Kessel is a major pipe dream so forget those kind of expectations, (unless Chia is at the other side of the deal). Craig Button recently blasted Lucic on “That’s Hockey” and I hate agreeing with Button but….
    Anyway, I think the best option if available is the bad contract for bad contract. You don’t want to give up a 1st rd pick at this stage. However, I do think you can improve your team if you can get back a player who #1, Is still an NHL player even though they’re grossly overpaid and 2, meets the teams needs more than Lucic. Such as an overpaid Dman or even a Goalie. This year, to me Lucic did almost nothing. He was a drain on offence and didn’t even fight. He threw the odd good hit but that’s it, It was always Maroon or someone else doing Lucic’s job. And betting on a bounce back year is a major longshot. Getting faster as you age is not going to happen.

    • CMG30

      Yes. The problem with Lucic is that he is the embodiment of a ‘player type’ that certain fans believe you must have on your team. Even when the evidence that he’s no longer that player is slapping them in the face, they just can’t seem to escape the mystique that he (rightfully) earned in his prime.

  • lee

    In the last 4 drafts the Oilers have had 1 second round pick. You can’t have it both ways. If you continually lose important draft picks then your depth will be what it is today which is well below average.
    So much talk about just throwing in a 2nd round pick with any trade scenario.
    To me trading Lucic to who ever just means the Oilers lose another trade and also get weaker. While selling a pipe dream that PC will sign a free agent with that money and make everything better, you know like when he signed Lucic.
    The Oilers are weak at both wing positions and right D, this only gets fixed by drafting the right players. Yes it doesn’t happen over night but almost all the top teams got this way because they drafted their top players.
    When the Oilers drafted McDavid they had Eberle and Hall plus RNH and a lot of cap space. Hall and Eberle are gone and they have no cap space, that shipped sailed thanks to Peter C.

  • T&A4Flames

    Hahahahahahahahahahahahahaaaaaaa!!!
    Oh my lord, Lucic for Kessel. That is soooo rich. Even with the 10 OA add, PIT doesn’t touch Lucic and definitly doesn’t add Kessel to the deal. Pfft. You guys are stuck with a terrible contract 1way or another.
    Even if you moved Lucic, Chia would still screw up the cap savings.

  • DavidMcDavid

    I’d like to see the Oilers explore a Lucic + for Jeff Skinner deal. Both organizations looking to move wingers at low points of value. Carolina is looking for a culture reset – and Lucic has the resume and winning record to impress. Skinner is a goal scoring, high shot volume winger that would potentially complement any of McD, Drai, or even RNH if he moves back to centre at some point. If it takes a couple of non-1st round picks to enable the Oilers to assume no Lucic salary, I think that a deal worth exploring.

    In general, not worth panicking to sell on Lucic at a low-value point, unless there is an associated move that brings in high impact player and puts us over the cap (i.e. a Karlsson)