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.

      • 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.

      • 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).

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • hagar

    Imagine being lucic and your team trades you and their first overall pick for nothing. Like not for little scraps.. like the other side of the sheet is empty…

  • 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.

  • The Rookie

    Dusty, what are you expecting in return for these sweetners tho? Bear, Lucic, a 2nd and a 3rd…what comes back the other way? Top 6W? Bottom 6? Prospect?

  • 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.

  • 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

  • OriginalSixMachine

    Doesn’t he want to go home lol..the thing about that is Vancouver sucks there’s nobody on that team to pick up and the people that are suggesting Erickson for Lucic need to sober up a bit maybe snap out of it and come back to reality if we did that trade I would lose it! Can’t believe it’s even been suggested but then again with all these armchair GM’s and EA sports legends …maybe Sutter for Lucic atleast he kills penalities doesn’t he? Then throw in a bunch of picks from both teams to make it work….hopefully they just get rid of the salary cap then all this won’t matter lol

      • OriginalSixMachine

        Thanks for that..The last time I checked we could use more options on the PK plus Sutter only has a couple years left on his deal that’s the route I would go if available it gives us options at 3C and 2C in a pinch or if we wanted to load up on the top line with Connor Dr.Drai and my boy Nuge ..Sutter is decent on the draw too probably a higher % than our guys and he’s from a hard working family we could use more grinders IMO

      • 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.

  • toprightcorner

    If Lucic ends up playing 70% on the 4th line and 30% in the pressbox, he would likely accept a trade to Ottawa just so he could play more minutes. Ottawa is terrible on the back end after Chabot, if the Oilers trade Benning, Bear and a 3rd to go along with Lucic and take a bit of cap back in the for of Pageau that would play 3C and retain $1.75 mill in salary, Melnyk may do it as it would be a $4.75 cap hit but an avg of $2.25 mill actual paid dollars, which is less than Pageau.

    Benning is easily top 4 in OTT, Bear would start in the NHL and both would help their rebuild.

    Oilers get a quality 3C at $3.1 mill signed for 1 season to fill the gap that Marody could be ready for in 2 years. The Oilers would save $4.25 on Lucic and replacing Benning with Persson saves them $900k

    This deal should make both teams happy.

    • OttawaOiler

      Pageau is loved by the fans and not lining up for superstar bucks. After chasing out Karlsson, Stone, Duchene and Dzingel, even Uncle Eug and his puppet Pierre know that they’d get crucified for trading Pageau (and he isn’t going to make enough for Uncle Eug to do it anyway).

      • Ken Holland

        Sens will trade Pageau at the deadline. Most likely for a 2nd or 3rd rounder.

        They are in full rebuild mode, the team will not keep anyone over 25 they can trade for picks or prospects.

        If we can get them to swap Gagner for Pageau and we throw in a sweetner that would be ideal.

  • 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.

  • Jerri Kurli

    I’m not a big believer in Yamo or JP, I have no reason to. They have both been fairly disappointing thus far. Therefore I wouldn’t touch the 19 or 20 first rounders. Let the new captain (Holland)build his team. If you can lose Lucic with one of those guys and not retain much salary, it’s worth every penny.

  • GK1980

    “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.”

    This team is far from one player getting the into the playoffs. This team has many my holes and issues that won’t be fixed this season nor next season. No playoffs in E-Town for awhile folks, sorry.

  • OilCan2

    Lucic is staying here until a potential deal in Seattle I think. He’s a west coast boy and may waive to get back close to home. OK; now can we talk about who we get at #8?

  • RJ

    Why don’t we have an article about the Philly defencemen?

    They’ve had some highly touted defensive prospects in recent years: Provorov, Gostisbehere, Sanheim, Morin, Hagg, Sanheim and probably a few others. The Oil don’t have one defenceman as highly touted as Provorov, and he struggled a lot this year.

    The assumption that Bear, Jones, Persson or Samorukov can step in and immediately be difference-makers is unreasonable. It wasn’t all that long ago that highly drafted Griffin Reinhart (who’d spent time over-ripening in the AHL) was going to speed up the re-build as a guaranteed top-4 D. We all know where that went.

    No expectation should be placed on any of the prospects playing 300+ games or being an elite top pairing defender until at least 2/3 seasons of NHL play.

  • SnowMan8

    Yamamoto is trending towards bust more than puljujarvi!! just because pul is not as good as you would hope from 4th overall does not mean there’s not a player there. keep him and play him in whatever role he deserves. He will probably be worth more than his value is at this moment. Yamamoto on the other hand might entice some teams and is looking like magic beans to me

  • Westoil

    This is insane.

    The Lucic contact is certainly the highest profile issue with the Oilers cap situation but it’s also the most difficult to fix. It makes much more sense to tackle the pile of other issues that will not cost a valuable asset.

    You know who else eats up to much cap space?

    Sekera. Not quite 6 million but close. Could move him without giving up an asset. His contact is also very buy out friendly. I’m not in favor of it because he can still play but it’s still a better option than giving up a first round pick or good player.

    5.4 million for Brandon Manning and Sam Gagner. FIVE point FOUR million!!!

    Kris Russell makes 4 million and is also a liability on the ice. He could also be moved without giving anything up.

    Mikko Koskinen makes 4.5. enough said.

    Kyle Brodziak and Zack Kassian are a combined 3 million. Is that money well spent?

    That’s over 20 million dollars in questionable salaries. Start there. Clear out a bunch of that and you can afford to have Lucic sit in the press box, at least for a year or two until he’s either easier to trade to someone looking to hit the floor or buy out. Or maybe he get allergic to his gear.

    Giving away assets is how we got here. Time to stop.

    • Ken Holland

      If we retain 1.5 mil Lucic has a contract most teams would sign him to. 10 million over 4 years is not a bad deal for what he brings. Lucic was top 10 in hits and is the ultimate bodyguard.

      Boston and San Jose are tough physical teams, and the NHL is a copycat league.

      The market for a Lucic type on a 2.5mil contract may be there this summer.

  • Oilerproud

    Too much is being made about our cap situation imo. We are lucky to have a very good 6 defense locked up next year. If healthy they could easily get back to form and seriously improve our depth scoring. The club’s record with Klef, Larsson, Sekera, Nurse, Russell and Benning all healthy is worthy of contention.
    Another year of development under the belts of our prospects will bode well in case of injury or indifferent play. I’ve watched as we’ve traded and bought our way out of cap troubles in hopes of player development. If guys beat out a player for their spot great, if not we have no need to ship out quality veterans.
    To break it down we will have close to 11 million in cap next season. After a solid back up G and resigning Khaira and Poolparty we will likely have around 6 million. Given the ridiculous contracts being handed out and the league’s recent prosperity I could see the cap going up again also. Modestly I can predict 8 million in space to repair our bottom 6 forward group.
    I see no need for a Duchene or Panarin as we have some decent prospects ready to make the jump to NHL. Holland WILL make sure our youngsters earn their ice but in the meantime we could easily keep Lucic and bolster our forward corps by buying low on some solid veterans in UFA.
    Guys like Marcus Johansson, Colin Wilson, Alex Chaisson and Magnus Paajarvi(to name a few) will be available for 1 or 2 year deals on the cheap come July 1 and would bolster our bottom 6. A guy like Nyquist has a history also with Holland and would be excellent in our top 9. Holland also has shown he can work magic signing vets cheap. With quality veterans in place it creates a barrier to entry for our up and comers.
    This is neccessary not only to get back to the playoffs, but to create a culture where young players can develop at their own pace. Judging by how contending teams operate we need to let these kids grow up with the club’s support and know they will have the best chance to carve out a solid career as an NHLer. Enough throwing them in the fire and failing only to lose important development years. When our draftees start forcing their way onto the team then the expendables will be obvious and we can make trades from a position of strength. Until then I’m afraid it will be the same old.
    Every team has an albatross contract. At least Lucic is an NHL player. When someone forces him out of the bottom 6 I’ll be the first to welcome a trade. Until then let’s hope Holland realizes what he’s got and polishes the Oil back into the contender we were only a couple short years ago.

  • BloodSweatnOil

    How about the 2nd rounder plus one of Yamamoto, Safin or Bear, (guys injured alot this year) AND Lucic with nothing retained and an agreement for Ottawa to buy out Lucic. Thus Keeping the bulk of the cap hit but not blocking kids from playing and allowing looch to choose where to go.

  • Just a Fan

    I think it is crazy to both trade Lucic and to continue to trade Lucic. He is here for one more season ( at least). If you retain salary (1.5) and you replace his role (~1.5) you save 3M but you are not signing a top 6 winger for 3M. If you trade Russell you save 4M and you might be able to actually have internal candidates to replace him.

    • RJ

      Friedman said Chia had an offer or offers for Lucic, but was asking for too much last off-season.

      Too bad there wasn’t more info about the offer or offers. If they could have cleared all of the cap hit, it would have been good to know what else was on the table to clear out that cap hit.

  • West Coast Hockey Fan

    Bouchard, the 2019 1st, and a 20.9 Million dollar salary dump of Lucic, Gagner, Sekera, Russell, and Manning to Vancouver for a bag of pucks… who says no?