The Dominos

Everybody knows that the Oilers have some big holes in their roster that need to be filled and that Peter Chiarelli doesn’t have a lot of cap space to work with.

The simplest way for him to free up some money is to trade one of Andrej Sekera or Milan Lucic. There have been plenty of rumours that one of those may players may get shipped out and it’s obvious how important that would be for the Oilers.

The big problem between now and the draft will be that Peter Chiarelli is pretty handcuffed until one of those two contracts are moved along and it will be tough to get rid of either player before this coming weekend.

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Starting with Milan Lucic, the assumption is that if the Oilers move him they would prefer not to retain any salary, they want it to be a hockey move. I can almost guarantee that the teams interested in acquiring Lucic, have zero interest in bringing him in before his $3 million signing bonus gets paid out on July 1st. The upside for teams like Carolina or Arizona, who have internal caps, would be that if they acquire Lucic after his signing bonus, they actually only have to pay him $3 million, but get the benefit of a $6 million cap hit. They’ll get closer to the cap floor, while not spending as many real dollars.

The Oilers are a very wealthy organization and if they need to pay the $3 million dollar bonus, I’m sure they would have no problem doing that, especially since it doesn’t count against the cap.

Now, Chiarelli could have a deal made that simply won’t be made official until July. That would allow him to make a move at the draft since you are allowed to go a little over the cap in the offseason.

Another solution to this problem is to hold off on signing any of their RFA’s (Darnell Nurse, Matt Benning, and Ryan Strome) in order to keep some cap space open until Lucic is traded.

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This is risky because if another team doesn’t want to pay that signing bonus, a trade can’t be officially agreed to until July 1st. What happens if Chiarelli has a trade agreed to for Lucic, uses cap space at the draft, then the other team backs out of the deal before July 1st? It’s a lot, but it could always happen and he’d be handcuffed.

Andrej Sekera is the other big domino that could fall, but he’s very far from the best defenseman on the market. That would lead you to believe that other teams will exhaust other avenues before circling over to Edmonton, meaning a deal at the draft isn’t very likely.

The two contracts blocking Peter Chiarelli only increases the odds that the team will use the 10th overall pick to select a player. If you’re an Oilers fan waiting for Chiarelli to make a big splash, you might have to sit tight until free agency opens up. Lucic will have his bonus paid out, and teams who missed out on free agents like John Carlson or Mike Green might look at someone like Andrej Sekera as a buy-low candidate.

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If Milan Lucic is the name being moved out, then it would open up $6 million in cap space that Chiarelli would certainly use. Just based on what I’ve heard, it wouldn’t surprise me if he used the new found cap space to add a puck-moving right shot defenseman.

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If a defenseman is brought in, then one will likely need to be sent out. So a Milan Lucic trade likely has a direct impact on the future of a player like Oscar Klefbom.

See why I used the domino analogy? If Lucic isn’t dealt, they likely don’t have the money to bring in an impact defender and if they don’t bring a defender in, then it’s less likely that they feel the need to trade Oscar Klefbom, and if Klefbom isn’t dealt it becomes more difficult to address their lack of skill on the wings.

In a confusing way, any significant move Peter Chiarelli might want to make is connected to Lucic and Sekera.

There has been lots of debating over whether the Oilers will be aggressive or not this summer. I believe that Peter Chiarelli WANTS to be aggressive and make some big moves, but if he can’t push down either the Lucic or Sekera domino, he might have no choice but to sit on his hands and make small, safer bets.

  • Dapper Dan 3099

    The problem with Sekera is that after coming off a major injury and missing half the season, nobody expected him to be their best d-man, yet everyone still harps on how bad he is based off last season…. I would hope that other GM’s don’t jump the gun as fast as our fans sometimes…. on the other side of it, we definitely need cap space…. I wonder if there would be any interest in Carolina to bring Sekera back there, since he did have some good years on that team (not sure what the return would be)

  • E-Mac

    The Rangers are rebuilding and have cap space, perhaps we can offload Sekera there. Not sure who else would want him at his current hit for three more years. I still think he has the potential to be a good second pair guy.

  • Hockey123

    Cap problems with one of the worst teams in the NHL. One of the worst teams in the AHL. Horrible trades by Peter C , not. many prospects and still he is here. Maybe he needs to win the Stanley Cup before Oilers get rid of him.

  • Rama Lama

    Sorry to be a ” Debbie Downer”………..but I’m expecting a fleecing. The only thing PC has shown in his past dealings is that he does not know how to win a trade.

  • Carbonrod

    Our three bad contracts are Russel, Lucic, and Sekera. I think the time to move Sekera is next offseason, his value is so low now that it is almost negative and is harder to trade because of his NMC, if he plays better next season he will at least become movable so the play is to wait on him.

    Lucic will be hard to move after his past year. If we can trade him for another shorter, less bad contract and use the savings for depth players then maybe we should, but i would prefer to let him stay and have a better season next year before moving him. I wouldn’t want to add picks/prospects just to dump him because our system is so depleted, and we still have to replace him, so who fills the spot?

    Russel should be traded next year too, he has some value, but is overpaid by a million+/year and has too much term. Of the left shot d-men we have he is not as good as Klef/Nurse and is paid too much to play 3rd line, and not great when he plays RD. Only way I would move one of the other guys is to get a top 4 RHD, and Russel is the odd man out..

    I’m scared of what the trade Chia will pull the trigger on for Lucic right now.

  • GK1980

    “Peter Chiarelli doesn’t have a lot of cap space to work with.” His own fault, the current players will need to figure out how to win, no white knight coming this summer to save them.

    “The big problem between now and the draft will be that Peter Chiarelli is pretty handcuffed ” He did this to himself…..

  • Shane

    A healthy Sekera is absolutely worth his contract. He sucked last year because he came back from knee surgery and couldn’t skate at an NHL level. If he recovered and strengthened his knee this summer he’s a top 4 defencemen on any team so why sell low on him? If you want to trade sell high on Nurse, Klefbom or Benning. Some sort of package of those 3 should get you a bonafide, no guess work, already developed but burried top D like Parayko or Trouba

    • Shane

      Sorry but are you saying dont trade Klefbom/Sekera because the returning cap hit would be to high? Ya those guys are expensive but I think you have to make room for a #1 defenceman that can play a whole season and make passes through the neutral zone. Even if you’re just giving away Russell for a 7th round pick or something to make it work.

  • A-Mc

    Our struggles on D were because Sekera was out, and when he did return – he wasn’t close to ready. Throwing away Sekera would be a mistake.

    As for Lucic; i think he’s a decent player. He had 1 bad half-season. Big deal. I’d rather keep him than throw him away for a boat anchor, or worse: Dead cap space.

    • Gravis82

      I agree on Sekera 100%. There have been a few articles on this now, but if you take 10min to dig into the numbers, watched the games he played both pre and post injury, you would know that he is likely going to be much better next year and will not be considered a bad contract. That was a very serious injury.

      On the surface though, comparing points, games played from last season to his just from last year, then ya, looks bad. But I expect a bit deeper analysis that that on ON to be honest.

  • Arfguy

    I think the worst move the Oilers can do is to add a pick or prospect when trying to unload Lucic. At this point, as much as I think he will not rebound, I think it is better to try and hold on to Lucic rather than to try and trade him and add another piece to make the deal more palatable.

    However, I think Chiarelli will do just that. Add a high draft pick or a player with potential to try and fix the mess that is the Milan Lucic contract.