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:

  • OriginalPouzar

    Oilers trade a 4th and Lucic with $3M retained to Team B for a 7th.

    Team B retains $1.5M and trades to team C. Team C acquires Lucic at a cap hit of $1.5M per.

    Oilers $3M
    Team B $1.5M
    Team C $1.5M

    Lucic waives to ultimate destination (Team C) – 3 team deal agreed upon together.

    • Ken Holland

      There are a few key limitations:

      -The percentage retained cannot be more than 50 percent of the salary and cap hit.

      -A player’s contract can only be traded twice in a retained salary transaction.

      • OriginalPouzar

        Correct on point 2 but point 1 is a bit misleading – I’ve done research in to this and confirmed it with a few sources including Puckpedia – the pie can be split by 50% each of those two times.

        The Oilers can trade Lucic and retain 50% ($3M) and then the team that acquired Lucic at $3M can trade him and retain 50% ($1.5M).

          • Jehu23

            The retention is the same % applied to both elements. i.e a 50% retention of a 6M cap hit with a real salary of 3M works out to a 3M cap hit retention, and the original team paying 1.5M of the salary.

            This is the way around the math that could result in a negative payment by a subsequent team. In your hypothetical, The Oilers would retain 3M in cap hit, 1.5M in real salary (fluctuating year to year as shown in the 2nd reply), and team 2 would retain 1.5M in cap and 750K in real salary. Team C would have a 1.5M cap hit and only pay 750K.

            Year two would be 3M, 1.5M, 1.5M in cap retention, with 2M, 1M and 1M being the salary allocation… and so on.

            I – like Dustin – strongly believe the Oilers should not retain more that 1.5 million in cap hit in any season if they are offering assets to dump the contract.

            Remember when most of us thought that McC & Chia >>> MacT & Eakins. Little did we know how deep that hole was when climbing upwards still leaves you pretty damn close to the basement.

          • OriginalPouzar

            Oilers would be on the the hook for 50% of cap hit (and 50% of compeation paid).

            Team B would be on the hook for 25%

            Team C would be on the hook for 25%

            Oilers give up a small asset to Team B to gain $3M of cap space X 4 years (small asset like swapping a 4th rounder with 6th rounder – or something along those lines).

      • Ken Holland

        Lucic real salary is 3,4,5,4 – 16 mil over 4 years.

        This is a pretty unique scenerio. IF we retain 3 mil and team B retains 1 mil, Team C would have Lucic cost them no real salary.

  • Copper

    Lucic, Sekera and 2 prospects/picks to Carolina after July 1st bonus is paid. Oilers make available all non-1st round picks plus 30-40 players and prospects for Carolina to choose from.

    Players protected eg McDavid, Draisaotl, RNH, JP, Kharia, Kassian, Benson, McLeod, Kelfbom, Larssen, Nurse, Bouchard, Sagamukov(??), Jones

  • OriginalPouzar

    A clean disposition of the entire cap hit would require a sweetener along the lines of the 2019 1st rounder or Bouchard – an absolute non-starter.

    If the Oilers retained the max, the sweetener would likely be along the lines of a 2nd rounder or an Ethan Bear level prospect. I’d do it for Bear but likely not Jones or Lagesson both of whom are better bets for every day NHL employment than Bear (not that Bear doesn’t have a shot but his skating and ability to board battle are issues).

    The three team scenario I proposed above, or something creative along those lines, would be the most beneficial to the Oilers.

      • Cageyvet

        That’s interesting, because here in Vancouver, we say Lucic does less than Eriksson and his contract is one year longer. Both contracts are anchors, but the overwhelming feeling here is we’d need more than you’d want to give to sweeten a Lucic for Eriksson swap. Both guys are anchors, and both teams would be better served by trying to unload them somewhere else, some other way, not just swapping problems that are very similar.

  • 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.

  • OttawaOiler

    Lucic, Koskinen, Bear, Benson and the 2020 1st to Ottawa for Anderson and 2020 3rd. (If Lucic would waive his NMC for Ottawa).

    Rip the bandaid off. Let Holland give himself a clean(er) slate to work with.

  • 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.

  • 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.