At Random: Sweetener My Eye

Being a slow learner, I didn’t feel this way a year ago, but count me among those hoping the Edmonton Oilers will find a way to get out from under Milan Lucic and the four years remaining on his contract. We’re hearing these days that might be possible in a deal with the Vancouver Canucks for their dud, Loui Eriksson.

There is nothing about Eriksson in this point in his career that I like — he’s a worn out one-trick pony who doesn’t perform that trick, scoring goals, nearly enough anymore — except the fact he’s got one fewer year remaining on his contract than Lucic does. Lucic, of course, can’t put it in the ocean off the end of a pier either, but at least he has another dimension. As slow and unproductive as he is, Lucic scares the crap out of opponents. We can argue what that is worth, but it’s a dimension he brings.

That said, if the trade was straight up and I’d exhausted every other possibility, I could probably hold my nose and make the move to rid myself of the extra year on Lucic’s deal. It’s the talk about a sweetener where Lucic-for-Eriksson falls apart for me. Unless Jim Benning is looking for a toaster oven or a gas card redeemable at Alberta prices, I’m out. Peter Chiarelli might go for that, but I’m hoping new POHO and GM Ken Holland won’t.

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Talk about a sweetener is speculation, but when I hear names like Tyler Benson thrown out as possibilities, it ends there. While I’m hesitant to give up the better player in the deal, which Lucic is at this point even with all his struggles and shortcomings, I’d reluctantly do it for Eriksson’s contract, which isn’t only one year shorter but more favourable in terms of a buyout. Warts and all, giving up the better player in Lucic is my sweetener.

As bad a Lucic has been and as frustrating as it’s been for fans to watch him chop the puck into pieces, he’s been healthier and more productive than Eriksson the last three seasons. Lucic has scored 39-65-104 to Eriksson’s 32-44-76. Lucic’s PPG is .43 to Eriksson’s .39, a virtual saw-off. While Eriksson has received votes for the Lady Byng Trophy is seven different seasons, I put more value in Lucic punching somebody out three or four times a year and being a physical presence when neither one of them can find the net with a compass and a flashlight.

We know Lucic wouldn’t mind ending up in his hometown of Vancouver where he played in the WHL. That could be seen as leverage in Benning’s favour. That said, I’m led to believe by somebody I trust close to the Canucks that Eriksson and coach Travis Green aren’t on the best terms. Complaining about ice time and how you’re being used by the coach doesn’t fly when you’ve been as unproductive as Eriksson has been.

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Bottom line, while there can be no debate that Lucic has been a monumental disappointment, I’m not adding a sweetener to save one contract year in a trade for a no-hit, no-score winger, which is exactly what Eriksson is at this point in his career. The Oiler have enough of those. Straight up or look elsewhere.


When Oilers Now host Bob Stauffer drops names on his show or on social media, people pay attention, or should, because his track record tells us he’s one of the people in-the-know. So it is with Swedish defenceman Philip Broberg, who Stauffer mentioned on Twitter May 30. He’s now being mentioned by some as a possible selection with the eighth pick.

The book on Broberg according to MyNHLDraft.com is here. The website has Broberg going 11th to Philadelphia in its mock draft. In terms of rankings, you can find Broberg as high as fifth (Craig Button of TSN) and as low as 26th (Draft Analyst) among insiders who’ve provided rankings. He’s worth keeping an eye on.


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Previously by Robin Brownlee