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Photo Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

Trading Lucic to a Floor Team

This morning, I looked at a tweet from Andy Strickland and found myself compelled to write about it. It was a one-liner about a potential Lucic deal that filled me with more hope than dread and here we are.

Can this possibly be true? Do the Oilers indeed have a deal in place to move Milan Lucic? Well, as the man says, we shall indeed see.

Milan Lucic’s arrival and tenure in Edmonton has been… uneven to say the least. He arrived with a contract that rivalled the man in its heft. The bulky winger was everything fans and media had been clamouring for after many seasons of feeling like the team was getting pushed around. Well not anymore! The boogeyman was on our side now.

(I’m going to forgo the connection of the Lucic signing to the Hall trade but let’s all assume I wrote a scathing 500 words about how idiotic that was)

Everyone could stand taller in Edmonton. Lucic was the cure for a curved spine and a weak constitution. Any utterance of the word “Smurf” would now only refer to the Belgian cartoon and not Oiler forwards getting pasted into the boards and boxed out from the front of the crease.

Milan Lucic was going to be the bone-saw to McDavid’s scalpel and the two would combine their skill sets to provide the best of both worlds and the Oilers would ride Unicorns down Jasper Avenue in their 5 consecutive Stanley Cup parades, but –like- manly Unicorns with razor teeth and freaking laser beams shooting out of their horns.

Year one was fine for Looch and the Oilers but there were concerns that a career-high number of Power Play points (not his usual strength) was masking an underlying problem. Then disaster strikes in year two and it appears that the Oilers are holding onto a player who has lost his mojo and there are five more seasons left on this contract.

The Oiler forward managed to play all 82 games last year but scored just a single goal after Christmas. He had 8 points in 46 games over that stretch and was eventually relegated to a 3rd line role but only after the Oilers tried to resuscitate his season by glueing him next to McDavid for too many weeks. This is bad. This is REAL bad.

Who in their right mind is going to take this player?

Well, about that. This summer represents a bit of an opportunity for a team who wants to buy Lucic’s service for the lowest possible real dollar amount on average. The way Milan’s contract was structured with its combination of signing bonuses and base salaries, the former Bruin power forward will have been paid almost half of his entire contract by July 1st 2018.

That mega-deal he signed was for $42,000,000 over the course of seven seasons, but he was paid $16,000,000 in actual dollars over years one and two, and then on July 1st he receives another $3,500,000 in bonus money. In real dollars, after July 1st 2018 he will have just $22,500,000 remaining on his deal over these next five seasons of hockey.

So what?

What that means is that Milan Lucic will only be paid an average of $4,500,000 per season by his new club for the remainder of his contract despite taking up $6,000,000 on the cap. To a club that wants to be at the cap limit that’s not overly valuable, but to a team who wants to be at the cap floor, it’s a bargain. The Islanders, Knights, Coyotes, and Hurricanes may all be interested in saving real dollars while staying compliant with the lower limit of $58.8M on the Cap.

Trading for Milan Lucic this summer gives potential teams the most likelihood of seeing Lucic regain some kind of value by bouncing back while also paying less for his services than he takes up on the Cap. For a Cap Floor team looking to get maximum value for the risk they take trading for him, now is the time to act. And by now, I mean after the cheque from the Oilers clears on July 1st.

Milan Lucic’s deal is not entirely undesirable, even if the market might be limited. As the tweet from the top of this article reminds us, there is hope. There are teams that just want to pay the least for a complete hockey team and somehow it might be possible to convince another human being that Lucic can help that cause.

What question remains will be how much is saving $1.5M in real dollars spent (compared to the cap hit) worth to another GM? Is that enough that the Oilers take back only a moderately poor player with a survivable contract? Lucic was unlikely to provide $6M dollars of value for the length of his deal, that was known already. However, he might only be an overpay of $2M for a couple more years.

How do all these moving parts mesh together? I am genuinely interested in seeing how the Oil get out from this deal and what they have to take back in return. Despite all the rumours to the contrary, Darryl Katz appears to be able to afford taking on a player who might be in the opposite situation to Lucic, someone who makes more than their cap hit (example: Jason Demers makes more real dollars this year than his cap hit).

These are the kinds of transactions that might be a couple days and $3.5M away from going down in Oil country. Let’s see what happens.

  • LibrarianMike

    My dream…
    Oilers GM: *picks up phone* “Hello?”
    Other GM: “I heard that maybe Lucic is available. I think we’d be interested in acquiring him if the price is righ…”
    Oilers GM: “HERE YA GO!” *hangs up phone*

      • Rock11

        Demers would provide cover for Bouchard, allowing him to percolate, and provide even further incentive for Chiarelli to get rid of Russell all while saving $1.5m on the cap. What’s not to like.

        • Can't Fix Stupid

          So realistically which of the 30 teams in the league would be willing to take on Russell? I’m sure Chiarelli would have plenty ignored reasons to trade Russell if the price is right. How would Demers’ $4.5 Million X 3 cap hit be advantageous to Russell’s $4 Million X 3 years? I will wait to hear your reason…

          • crabman

            @Can’t fix Stupid,

            If the move is Lucic straight up for Demers the benifit is $1.5M in cap space. At that point a defenceman would need to be moved out. Russell would make the most sensebecause Demers will likely play 2RD, the position Russell is likely to play this year. It wouldn’t be a trade Demers for Russell. Russell would be a secondary move. Vut the 2 moves would give the Oilers $5.5M minus whatever salary the team brought in with a Russell trade.
            Although Demers makes $500K more a season than Russell he would play gis natural side. Their Buyouts would be very similar, but if neither was bought out Russell will need to be protected in an expansion draft because of his NMC, but Demers wouldn’t because he has no clauses protecting him the last year of his contract. So between cap saving in a Lucic trade and more flexibility during expansion I believe that would be the advantage of such a move.

        • TKB2677

          Florida signed Demers for 4.5 mill. After 1 season, they dumped him to the Coyotes but in order to get that done, Florida retained $562,500. So he has a cap hit of $3,937,500 with the Coyotes. So they are saving $62,500 from Russell. Demers had 20 pts last year. I am not a Russell and it’s bad enough they have him on their team to potentially be in their 3rd pair fan at least they know what Russell would give them.

  • The rumor is probably true. That’s why Maroon is in town, ready to sign on July 1.

    This whole Lucic thing is very bad. For Lucic, his family, the Oilers, the city of Edmonton, and it only cost $19.5M.

  • CRONENBERG

    I hate spreading rumors, but I haven’t seen anyone bring this up. I heard Lucic was going through a potential divorce and that’s why he was so off his game last season.

  • Oilers100

    Oilers are gonna trade Lucic and Draisaitl for conditional a 2nd round pick.
    (Becomes a 3rd if Lucic turns over the puck more than 300 times in the first 2 weeks of the season)

      • Moneyball

        This year will really be the story on Talbot. Last year in many games he was not much better than a backup. He need to rebound or his contract will not be for a staring goalie. The same holds true for puljujarvi. This “NHL” ready draft pick has been a total bust so far, especially when you consider his draft pedigree. I hope both rebound, but I personally would not bet the season on significant improvement from puljujarvi, Talbot can bounce back to the 2016 Talbot, pj has nothing to bounce back to.

  • oilerjed

    Speculation + waiting = crazy OilerJed
    Life should have the same fast forward button NHL18 has.
    It would be sweet, Oilers eliminated from playoffs-fast forward to draft- fast forward to July 1st-fastward to training camp.

    • Hemmercules

      Be careful with that fast forward button. Could end up fast forwarding to your own death before the Oilers win another cup. What they need is a rewind button. Go back to 2007 and do basically the exact opposite of what they did after that cup run.

  • GK1980

    Look, last year was a bad year all around for the club. Everyone needs to calm down and just lest this season roll and see what happens. If it turns to stinky sh&&Zt again then we can start demanding trades. They need to get together and get their game back on track. Short leashes all around this year.

  • McNugent

    Lucic for Alzner is my prediction.

    Oilers will be retaining 1 mil a year.

    Oilersnation will blow up with disappointment.

    Same thing that happened with the Eberle trade and Hall… we clear cap and than dont use it. Just become a worse team with each and every sell low transaction.

    • NoBuBlackOPS

      And what big name UFA were we supposed to lock up long term last year with that unused cap space? There wasn’t a lot of options for the cap space any UFA with any value was going to want term something the oilers couldn’t offer with Mcdavids new contract kicking in this year. I would’ve been fine with the oil overpaying on a one year but any agent would advise his player to go for term over one year of 1-2 mil over pay. Why leave millions on the table to pocket an extra 1-2mil for one year when you can get added years and millions more somewhere else. What happens if the player on a one year has a career ending injury he just left millions apon millions on the table. If the same thing happened and said player that was locked up long term he gets bought out or goes on the LTIR and still comes out millions ahead of the one year deal. If you stop and think it’s very easy to see why that cap space was unused.

  • Kneedroptalbot

    Spector has said, there is a deal in place to unload Lucic. Just have to wait till July 1st to announce it (and pay Milan his 3.5M annual bonus).
    Lets Hope he’s right.

    • Hemmercules

      So many negative things happen to the Oilers its hard not to be negative most of the time. They had a good draft and Chia didn’t get fleeced by anyone (yet) so some positive arrows there. Got some goalie depth now so hopefully one of those guys takes it to the next level one of these seasons. Maybe things will take a turn for the better this season? I wouldn’t bank on it personally but I think I finally learned my lesson and I wont be getting hyped up for this team prior to the season anymore. If Talbot stumbles or they take any significant injuries to the defence the season will probably be over in November again.

  • Hemmercules

    I have a feeling its already done. Too many rumours about Lucic floating around the last month or so. Where theres smoke theres fire so to speak. Have to see the return when it actually happens to judge if its good for the team. If they take back a bad contract it will likely be a total waste. If they can just dump him and get picks, prospects and cap space then its probably a good thing. Maybe sign Maroon back or another decent free agent? I’m in the camp that says keep him another year and hope he rebounds but Chia likes to pull the trigger on guys who had a bad season. I could see Klef gone as well, possibly in the same trade.

  • OiLNATION

    Do you guys think it would be wise for the Oilers, if they are selling low on lucic, to potentially go for free agents like neal and a depth guy like one of rieder of derek ryan or in another scenario go for maroon to replace lucic and add a couple of depth players like rieder or ryan with the bit of extra cap space.

    • Hemmercules

      You better believe chia will do that. If he can bail lucic salary he will have money to spend. Not spending it didnt work out so well for him last time so I believe he will be shopping hard for a couple free agents like Neal or maroon. Might not be wise because he will have to overpay any decent free agent but what other option does he have?

  • Don’t believe anything Andy Strickland says. Strickland was the guy who said Oilers fans burned Pronger’s baby crib. That never happened. Strickland is a St. Loiuis reported and will make up nonesense about other teams.

  • BudOil

    Lucic is going to add 5 years to Mcdavids career. Why do you think players don’t key in on him physically? It’s the nuclear deterrent factor. Maybe everyone wants to go back to the days of Hall and Ebbs going for a line change while Nuge gets beat up by three guys in front of the net. Oilers fans on here want one thing and then another. Just support the team!!

  • Serious Gord

    That this can be done is an indictment of the current CBA. We now have a loophole that allows wealthier teams to dump their mistakes on the less wealthy ones.

    It needs to be addressed in the next one.

  • Arfguy

    I wonder if something like this is possible. If Milan Lucic is willing to accept a trade to a team like Vegas, do you think Vegas would give the Oilers someone like Tatar and Erik Haula?

    The Golden Knights save potentially $2.05 million for the next two seasons, the Oilers get back a couple of pretty good wingers which they sorely need without greatly damaging the cap.

    It would be hard to pull this off, as Lucic would have to accept this trade and so would Tomas Tatar, as they both have clauses that could prevent this from getting off the floor.

  • Opi

    Can Chia afford to take a hit that includes eating up to 50% of Looch’s salary just to trade the plug? The Oil literally got one half of a good season from Looch & he has been sliding since … picking up a cap hit of three million per year for the next five years for a player that would never again suit up for this hapless team would likely be the final nail in Chia’s coffin … how can he possibly admit publicly to such a humongous blunder after two years of Looch’s contract … ?

    Lucic’s contract is also structured that he will always get at least 85% of his contract due to the bonus structure within his contract, The league norm is 67% … this means there is very little saving to the Oilers if they wanted to buy him out. It’s essentially buyout proof …

  • 2centz

    I know,we’ll raise Lucic’s value by getting a bunch of hack so called writers,to write article after article about how bad he sucks and how nobody in their right mind would ever trade for him. Go to bed Cloutier