The Sweeteners

If Ken Holland is unable to free up any cap space it could be a very underwhelming off-season for the Oilers. He could buyout Sam Gagner, he could try to move Sekera or Russell and while those types of moves will certainly help we can’t avoid the elephant in the room — Milan Lucic.

Any Lucic transaction will likely involve the Oilers retaining salary; it’s just a matter of how much. The amount of retained salary will be directly related to whatever sweetener Holland is willing to include. The Oilers new GM will also have to maneuver around Lucic’s no movement clause but I get the sense the player will be a willing participant in most situations.

So who or what should Holland be willing to give away in order to undo one of Peter Chiarelli’s biggest mistakes?

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1st Round Pick 2019

I can only see one scenario where this pick would be included in a deal to move the Lucic contract and I’m still not sure I’d be a fan of the move.

Let’s say Ken Holland has a commitment from Artemi Panarin or Matt Duchene and the only way they afford to sign that player is to move the entire Lucic contract. This will never happen but it was worth mentioning because it’s the only possible way I could see the 1st round pick in 2019 being involved.

2nd Round Pick in 2019

I would be willing to move the Oilers second round pick in 2019 and retain one million bucks on the Lucic deal to free up five million in cap space and a roster spot. It likely won’t be enough.

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The problem with this scenario is trying to find a dance partner. The Senators may be the only team that will be desperate to get to the cap floor but would Lucic be willing to waive his no move to go to Ottawa?


The easiest name to throw in the mix is Jesse Puljujarvi. The big Finn just turned 21-years old but many people are ready to write him off. If you are in the camp that believes Puljujarvi is trending towards bust territory then you would certainly be willing to give him away to move Lucic.

It won’t be a surprise to many of you but I still believe Puljujarvi could become a reliable second line winger in the NHL. So if Holland moves Puljujarvi to help dump the Lucic contract he’d have to get a useable asset in return.


Yamamoto’s professional career is off to a bumpy start. In 26 NHL games, he has just one goal and five points. He battled injuries in Bakersfield this season on his way to 18 points in 27 games.

Anybody penciling the former Spokane Chief into the Oilers starting night lineup next season is delusional. Like Puljujarvi, your willingness to use Yamamoto as a sweetener in a Lucic deal depends entirely on your personal view of his potential. I’d rather include Yamamoto than Puljujarvi.


Benson is definitely trending in the right direction and I think most Oilers fans would be against moving him at this point. Benson alone wouldn’t be enough to move the Lucic contract without having to still retain a significant cap hit.

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I saw someone ask on Twitter last week if fans would be open to tossing Darnell Nurse in a deal to move the entire Lucic contract. The answer is no. Never. I did see a few people say they would be willing to do it but I just can’t justify it anyway. Nurse is by no means untouchable but to suggest him being a sweetener in a Lucic deal is just ridiculous.

1st Round Pick in 2020

I’d said a few times this off-season I’d be willing to move the 1st round pick in 2020 if the return was immediate help that could push the Oilers into the post-season. Using the draft pick to move Lucic doesn’t really fit the criteria.

If the Oilers did trade the 2020 1st to free up the Lucic space I’d assume it would be the entire contract and that they’d have something bigger coming down the pipe.


I’d be willing to move Bear in a deal but I’m not sure what type of value he actually holds. Most NHL teams already have an Ethan Bear type in their system.


Adding Bouchard, Samorukov or Jones is a non-starter for me. Maybe I’m thinking too highly of Caleb Jones but unless a team was willing to take Lucic’s entire contract and add a pick in return I don’t think it’s a good idea to weaken the future of the Oilers blueline.


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In the end, I would be willing to offer Ethan Bear, a 2nd in 2019, a 3rd in 2020 while at the same time retaining $1,500,000 to move Lucic. How high would you be willing to go with your sweetener?

Previously by Dustin Nielson:

  • Kybra

    Oilers retain $1M and give a 3rd round pick to Vancouver for Eriksson. Oilers buy out Eriksson, which is a lot easier to stomach than buying out Looch.
    Option 2: Pay Lucic his bonus on July 1st then trade him to Ottawa, adding Benning and a 2nd round pick in 2020.

  • ifiwasgm

    So here is what I think…
    A lot of teams have bad contracts, example Eriksson, if he is not scoring he has no value.
    Lucic has value beyond scoring, he is still one of, if not the toughest guy in the league. He brings intimidation to the line-up.
    I agree he is paid way to much. Buyout is insanity. Give up prospects and retain $$ for Eriksson then buy him out is insanity.

    All you hear is how bad Lucic is, and how desperate Edm is to get rid of him. This reflects bad on Edm as an organization.
    What free agents would want to come here with how players are continuously run out of town here?

    Focus on ways that are possible to shed $$. Just look at the value you can find in Lucic and move on. Constantly trying to perform magic to get rid of Lucic is a waste of effort. Lucic is not a feasible way to shed salary.

    Try Sekera, or Russel, or ….

    Buyouts are a slow death. Edm will have enough dead cap space for a full 2nd line if they keep looking to buyout contracts.

    If me or you were Lucic, we wouldn’t want to be here, with all the bad publicity. Probably a lot of other free agents too.

    • Serious Gord

      Lucic’s Intimidation fact is wildly overblown. How quickly we forget the game where Mcdavid got cut not once but twice and the best Lucic could do was scowl.

      I do think we need a physically intimidating player. But that player needs to be young, fast enough to keep up with the game and more action than scowl.

    • I definitely am in the camp of do not sweeten a deal to move him. Lucic is just a really expensive third to fourth liner which means they need a value deal in the top 6 which probably means some overachieving rookies. Buyouts are terrible cap killers

  • TKB2677

    I don’t quite get all the love that Sekera gets. For the record, I have no problem with him. 2 years ago he was the best Oilers dman and when healthy, he’s a good dman. But he has had 2 MAJOR leg injuries. Torn his ACL which can take up to a year before you are fully recovered if at all. Then he follows it up by tearing his Achilles which is a MAJOR injury. That can take a year to fully recover if at all. I give him full credit for coming back last year and being able to play at the NHL level. I wouldn’t fault him if he couldn’t after back to back major injuries like that. But let’s be honest here. He looked good but he was a 3rd pairing guy. There is a MAJOR difference between between a 3rd pairing and a top 4 dman. We are talking like 4-5 mins a game less plus you are going up against lesser competition. He’s making 5.5 mill. So I would be trying to trade him if I could. If you can’t, I would look to buy him out. They would save 3 mill on the cap for the next 2 seasons then have another 1.5 mill on the cap for the next 2 years after his deal is done. That isn’t horrible. Then I would trade Russell which I think you can do because I think he has value. The NHL is about having skaters on defense, he can skate and play both sides. I think he would only get you a draft pick but oh well.

    The Oilers currently have 6 dmen on defense signed to NHL deals. I think everyone thinks they need to bring in a true right shot to replace Russell, even if he’s not a high end right shot because having Russell on his off side isn’t ideal. They also need to create a spot for Jones who’s ready and who brings ALL of the things that the NHL now needs on defense. To do that, they have to create roster spots. So if you bought out Sekera and traded Russell, that’s 7 mill you shave off the cap which would help out a lot.

    • nicolas10

      I don’t understand the hate on Sekera. The difference between the playoffs oilers & the tirefire oilers is the absence of Sekera. Considering how Sekera impacted the blue line after returning from major injury mid season, it’s not too far fetched to imagine that he could play well on the second line after a healthy offseason and a good training camp. He showed he can still improve the oilers defense tremendously upon return, the oilers could very well use him as not only a good 2nd line option, but also a veteran mentor to all the young prospects. A third (second?) line of Sekera/Bouchard would be quite intriguing, and I think it would help Bouchard to stard in the NHL with an experienced vet who can still play at high level despite missing almost two years.

      • nicolas10

        And since there is no edit button…
        Keep Sekera; trade Benning & Russel for draft picks. It’s obvious Benning can’t play higher than on the 3rd line and the third line is better used for a prospect like Bear, Bouchard or Jones besides Sekera who mentors them. As for Russel, he is way too expensive for what he brings, which could be had for half the money, and might not even be needed with the options coming.

      • TKB2677

        I have no hate for Sekera what so ever, it’s simple numbers for me. The Oilers have 3 contracts for players who can not and will not earn what they make.
        Lucic – 6 mill – He’s being paid to be a top 6 forward. Baring a miracle, he will never be a top 6 forward. If the Oilers are very lucky, he will somehow become and effective 3rd liner. Even if a miracle happens and he find away to be a decent 3rd liner, he will STILL be grossly overpaid.
        Russell – 4 mill – He’s being paid to be a #4 dman. He’s #5 dman who’s left handed. The Oilers need a right shot who can play as a #4.
        Sekera – 5.5 mill – He’s a former top 4 dman who has had 2 MAJOR leg injuries. He came back and was able to be a decent 3rd pairing guy. The chances of him being an effective top 4 dman at his age after 2 major leg injuries are slim. He’s another left shot dman, the Oilers need a right shot capable of playing in the top 4.

        In addition, the Oilers have 2 good left shots in Nurse and Klefbom who are younger, more offensive, skate better and do more of the things that the NHL requires dmen to do. The Oilers NEED better skating, more offensive, better puck moving dmen in their line up. They have a young left shot dman who is ready for NHL and would slide into the 3rd pairing.They need to create a roster spot for him. They also NEED a true right shot to play in the top 4. Sekera and Russell are not right shots. The Oilers also need to free up some money to help bolster the wings. So something has to give.

        • nicolas10

          Russel has to go and be replaced by a right shot DMAN until Bouchard is ready, that’s for sure, but Sekera solidifies your 3rd line and can step up when Nurse or Klefbom get injured + his presence on the third line would help mentor a RD prospect like Bouchard. Sure he’s expensive for 3rd pairing Dman, but he brings more than what it would cost to unload him, and if you manage to get rid of Russel & Benning you get plenty of cap room anyway. And if you get a healthy sekera come trade deadline you can surely get a nice return for a contender looking to shore their defense.

    • Sekera would be the last player I’d be trying to get rid of – he can contribute, take and make a pass. Lucic will just need to either play better in the bottom of the lineup or maybe dress as the backup goalie. It would probably take quite a creative approach to break even in trading him and a buyout/sweetener if probably a lose situation

  • Consultant

    I really want to understand more about the chances of Lucic going on Long Term Injury Reserve. Other teams do it why can’t we. BUT first let’s see what he brings to training camp, I heard he plans on skating a lot more this summer rather than being so gym focused. Let him come into camp in great shape, score a few preseason goals and then trade him to a team looking for some size. Quite trading from a position of weakness.

  • Deported to Ottawa

    Giving up assets to correct a situation where a player under performs his contract is really counter productive. Lucic does provide to the team just not as much scoring impact as was expected.

    He’s expensive for what he provides but he still provides veteran leadership, physical play, 3/4 line scoring, and most opponents play the Oilers a bit differently when, Lucic is around.

    Any trade involving Lucic and additional pieces has to return more value than Lucic provides or it doesn’t make sense.

        • Serious Gord

          He wears and “A” only because management was pre-empted from giving him the “C” with the arrival of McDavid. The “A” is entirely symbolic IMO of his seniority – not evidence of any kind of leadership abilities.

  • On the right side:
    There’s talk of moving Larsson? There is no one in the system ready to replace him.
    Benning has to stay until Bouchard is ready, which is not for another year, unless the plan is to keep Benning and move out Russell (ideal).

    On the left side:
    I’m hesitant moving out Nurse when Klefbom and Sekera get injured or until Caleb Jones is ready. If one of them gets injured, the entire D seems to have a domino effect of worsening inconsistency. I’d keep Kevin Gravel as your 7th. I thought he was pretty solid.

    So if you moved out the anchor contracts with Sekera and Russell, what remains is this:

    Klefbom – Larsson
    Nurse – Benning
    Gravel – Jones (off-hand)

    I’m sorry but that’s not a playoff-ready defensive lineup. With Bouchard, Persson, Samorukov, and maybe Bear ready in a year or two, unless they get more immediately top 4 veteran help, there will remain a big hole with the D, as it has been since Souray left.

    • El Oilero

      only the Oiler’s would look at the leftorium and conclude lets trade a rightie. After Larsson our best RHD is Benning. That isn’t good long term. Benning is a solid 3RHD but past that he is out of his depth. We need to add to the RD not subtract.

  • El Oilero

    Take a step back: What is Lucic worth for a 4 year contract in the open market if he were a UFA right now? I am guessing about $2m a year. That means if we retain $4m we can move him for a bag of pucks. Any sweetner is about lowering the amount of retained salary.

    Option B is make a trade for someone else’s ad contract (like Eriksson). Can we flip him at a lower sweetner?

    First question has to be, what is his actual market worth?

  • El Connor mcdaddy

    Honestly I think we need to do whatever we can to get rid of the entire Lucic contract. I would be willing to add in any of the above sweeteners besides Nurse. The upside of losing a dead weight contract plus the ability to sign a potential scoring winger to play with Connor, or a goalie is, to quote the Hulk, “An Absolute win.”