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.
Some rumblings #Oilers have deal in place to move Lucic. We shall see
— Andy Strickland (@andystrickland) June 28, 2018
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.
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.