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:

  • Ken Holland

    Lucic makes 3,4,5,4 over the next 4 years.

    He makes 16 Million in real cash, but carries a 24 Million dollar cap hit.

    If we retain 1.5 Mil of his contract, Lucic makes 1.5, 2.5, 3.5, 2.5 over the next 4 years. He would make 10 million in real cash, with a 18 million dollar cap hit.

    An owner like Melnyk would appreciate saving 8 million dollars, while acquiring a couple draft picks. The Sens are trying to rid themselves of Z Smith and his 9.75 million contract.

    If we took back Smith, Melnyk saves 17.75 Million dollars, while stockpiling and speeding up the Sens rebuild.

    Seems like a pretty big motivator, potentially saving 18 million dollars.

    • Big Nuggets

      I think you’re onto something here. One of these teams that wants to save cash. I think Lucic would look good in Florida personally. They seem to want to change their team culture, they might do well to add Luc. And they have some lines that get points off of the cycle, that’s the sort of line Lucic could contribute on.

  • Moneyball

    Puljujarvi for sure, he has shown he doesn’t have the drive to improve to the NHL level. Yamamoto I would keep, the kid works hard and just might make
    It. There are still suckers out there that think puljujarvi has Laine like potential, but this will likely be the last chance to trade him for anything of value.

  • CMG30

    Bear, a 2nd and a third AND retain salary? I know we need to move Lucic but that’s a bit rich for my taste.

    I could get behind a combination of any 3 of the 4 items but that’s where I would like to stop. Looches name still carries weight in the league. If you don’t believe, just watch how many comments are left by people who still think we need him on the roster in case we ever make it to the playoffs or still think he’s going to bounce back. We just need to find that Chirelli type dance partner…

  • Serious Gord

    While it would be a good thing if Lucic and his salary left town, I don’t see the issue as all that pressing this season. The team realistically is barely a wildcard team at best this year.

    Hopefully he can be unloaded more easily next year – one less year of contract – and the oil can reduce the amount of salary they will have to eat / the awfulness of the player they will have to take in return.

  • FISTO Siltanen

    I think too much is made of Oilers cap issues.

    It’s not great. It’s not as bad as many make it out to be.

    They have $10.7M in cap space with an $83M cap. Add $1M to it when Manning is sent down to AHL next year. Closer to $12M.

    $7M on forwards including Khara, Chiasson and JP. This includes $3M on depth forwards.

    Currently Joel Persson is included in current cap hit. Whether it is him or someone else at 7th dman doesn’t change the numbers that much.

    Budget $2M for second goalie.

    $9M spent with $3M to spare and none of the albatross contracts are gone – Lucic, Russell or Sekeras. That’s $3M to try and upgrade or sign some more bodies ala Alex Chiasson.

    If you can get out from under Russell you have $7M to spend upgrading defense and finding another top 6 or top 9 forward.

    My point is I don’t think any of these solutions mentioned in the article are perfect for solving the cap woes. I think 1 dman (Colin Miller) one fringe NHL forward (Brandon Pirri) leaves money to find one more player.

    • The Rookie

      Your Sollution is to stand pat?? So when would you like to see the team improve?? The point is you need the cap space if you want to improve. And I’m pretty sure Manning has an NHL deal and still counts against the cap

      • Big Nuggets

        With so many prospect about a year away from contributing and the contracts like Sekera and Lucic difficult to move, next year seems like the right time to try to make a big splash. If Sekera stays healthy this year there will be interest in him next season, Lucic’s deal should be easier to move with 1 less year on the contract, also Gagner’s 3 million will come off the books. That is enough money to sign a legit top end player. You can’t force trades in this league, trying to force a trade gave us Larsson for Hall.

        • Ken Holland

          Lucic gets another 6 million in bonuses in the next 13 months. His contract will be alot easier to trade July 2020.

          His salary drops to 1,4,5 – 10 mil over 3 years. Much easier to move a Lucic making 3.3 a year over 3 years than his current contract.

  • 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