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.
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.
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.
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.
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.