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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.

WHAT’S THE ASK?

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.

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.

WHILE I’M AT IT

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

  • The future never comes

    The Benson sweetener was a unintelligent suggestion made by the last writer. Almost tacky one could say. I think it’s rhetorical that he would not be added. Straight up 1 for 1, I do that trade. He has to have more skill than Lucic, HAS TO.

      • billsbills

        Stop with the New NHL crap. Please, everyone knows this is a copy cat league. St. Louis wins this year, they did it with speed and skill? Or was it the forecheck? Or their massive and towering defence? Or was it all goaltending?

        Good teams build an identity of their own. They don’t copy anyone else. And when that team becomes dominant, everyone says “we need to do what they did”.

        The new NHL is the same as the old NHL. Teams that are balanced, well coached and getting good goaltending, can win.

          • All Ice

            Lucic isn’t fast but he can keep up to the current NHL. He wouldn’t be able to a leader in league hits year after year if he couldn’t. The play dies on his stick due to his hands. Missed pucks, missing passes and deflections. Especially along the boards and in front of the net. These things are correctable if he’s motivated and instructed properly. Once a guy has already made 50 mil by 30 years old does he still put that work in is the question

  • billsbills

    Something tells me that Cam has been listening to too much Vancouver media who thinks Eriksson still has some value. He doesn’t. He will be scratched and burried in the minors or bought out by Edmonton if they take him.

    Why we would want Vancouver’s cast offs is beyond me.

    Suffer with Looch until a hockey trade can be made. All it takes is a team to feel that they are getting pushed around too much and have sufficient space to add the contract. Lucic still has cache and some GM is going to think he’s smart enough to turn him back to a 40 point guy.

  • Synthesis

    “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”.

    A sadder statement on Oilers organizational culture would be difficult to compose.

    • Why do you say that? Bob makes it his business to know what’s going on around the NHL, not just with the Oilers. He doesn’t wait for information to fall into his lap. Guys in his position will find out things here and there by the very nature of the job, but his understanding of what’s going on goes well beyond that because he hustles and asks questions. All the best guys do that.

  • Oilerz4life

    The line in the article that stands out to me is “exhausted every other possibility”.

    The Oilers still have the “Lucic scares the crap out of opponents…dimension he brings”.

    If Holland is as patient as advertised, then there has to be a better option available than Loui Eriksson.

    • cityofchampions

      My take exactly. Pass on Ericksson and wait for a less-worse offer. I don’t want to say “better” offer as we all know that in order to get rid of Lucic we need to take back a bad contract and give a sweetener, but Ericksson is one of the few guys in the NHL who’s value for money is even less than Lucic’s.

  • Fireball

    Here, here. Lucic is Top 10 every year in hits, he fights, and is still a very effective bottom 6 player. He’s just over paid for that role. Eriksson has been injured and he doesn’t hit, fight, or score anymore. So straight up you hope Eriksson can do something he hasn’t been able to do for the last 3 full seasons. Van will get a guy that is top 10 in hits, will fight and provides a on ice respect for his teammates.

  • Bluetomorrow

    If the Oilers really want to move on from Lucic and Eriksson is the only way then you just do 1 for 1 but retain equal amounts on both sides so Lucic’s extra year is a lower cap hit for VAN. The retained salary could also make moving Eriksson to another team quite a bit easier if needed. Also they don’t seem to like Goldobin so maybe add him and Bear into the deal

    Lucic w/ 3M retained+ Bear+ 4th round pick
    for
    Eriksson w/ 3M retained+ Goldobin

    While not ideal as we lose out on a lot of grit but we also gain two wingers that had ~30 points last year.

  • Odanada

    Yes Looch is slow, but I feel a lot of his problems stem from a lack of confidence. Maybe a new coach and GM get the team going in a better direction and Looch bounces enough to make him more attractive in a trade. While I have my doubts about Milan’s future, maybe Tippet can get him going a bit? If the Looch starts to score even a little, his tradebait value goes up.
    Eriksson is a flaming bag of poo on your porch. Don’t take the bait.

  • Cowboy Bill

    I too scoff at giving sweetener . Can’t see it being anything more than a third or fourth round draft pick though . Both players have their warts , at least Lucic has been given ice time to produce , while Ericksson hasn’t . It’s difficult for a player to produce when he’s on the bench . Ericksson is the more skilled of the two and works on the both special teams , a suitable bottom six type . Also Ericksson will be reunited with his old coach . Then considering the extent of Lucic’s game has been reduced to hitting and the odd fight and doesn’t offer much else . The Canucks covet that type of player , a goon to protect their young players , even when the league is trying to get rid of that player type . Oilers should be all over this deal .

  • Kneedroptalbot

    Erickson can skate, kill penalties, check, has 1 year less on his contract, and a NTC.
    Lucic, can’t keep up to nhl skating, only plays 5 on 5, has 1 more year on his contract, doesn’t mentor young players, has a full NMC.
    What am I missing here?

    • What am I missing here?

      That every year, Lucic has seen a decline in his:

      1) Overall TOI per game (17 -> 16 -> 13 mins)
      2) Total PP TOI (223 -> 174 -> 106 mins)
      3) PP point production (25 -> 7 -> 4 pts)
      4) Fights per season (6 -> 4 -> 2 fights)
      5) Total PK TOI (40 secs -> 89 secs -> 0 secs)

  • El Connor mcdaddy

    “Lucic has scored 39-65-104 to Eriksson’s 32-74-66.” I’m a tad confused how 32+74=66. Also if those are Lucic’s and Eriksson’s actual numbers than Eriksson has scored more than Lucic. I think Brownlee meant 32-34-66. Which is a substantial decline in points that does not deserve a sweetener if we are going to swap players.

    • Johnny Utah

      Eriksson has more goals and around the same pts (in ~ 30 fewer games), and Lucic is trending steeply down. Eriksson is projecting more or less flat. So, while they both signed 3 seasons ago, looking at the totals over that period is missing some context.

  • TomahawkThought

    If a sweetener is required, what if it came in the form of both teams retaining something like 25% (for example) of their respective player’s salary? It would be a wash for the first 3 years, then a cap savings of 4.5M (instead of 6M) in year 4 for the Oilers.

    Following a deal that includes retention, the Oilers could also chose to buyout Eriksson next June and Vancouver would have to pay 25% of the cost (or whatever the chosen retention is). This would lead to earlier savings and make it so Eriksson doesn’t need to be protected in expansion, but result in one more year of about a 1M cap hit.

    • El Connor mcdaddy

      Eriksson already does not need to be protected in the expansion. And this clearly works out much better for the Oilers than the Canucks, effectively not making it a Sweetener.

        • DJ_44

          So the “sweetener” is the Canucks get $4.5M on their cap in 4 years that they would not have without trading for a poorer player. Oh, and lets not forget the fact that Lucic has to be protected in expansion, while Eriksson does not.

          I do not this sweetener means what you think it means.

  • SailorD81

    I think its been mentioned by a few others that the real benefit of a Lucic for Eriksson trade is the upcoming Seattle entry draft. Not having to protect Lucic would be a gift in itself. Having said that I cant see the “sweetener” being any higher than a 3rd or a conditional 2nd.

  • RJ

    I think the PPG number is misleading.

    It’s 50 to 34 to 20. He was given a ton of chances to be McDavid’s LW, but at this point in his career he’s a bottom-six forward.

    He brings truculence, but the Oilers also have Nurse and Kassian and if Holland is really worried about that part of the game, he could find someone who has a much lower cap hit to play that role in the bottom six.

    I think Holland is smart enough not to trade Lucic if it means giving up a prospect like Benson (not to mention the 8OV pick or Bouchard which was a suggestion on Canucks Army). If there’s a reasonable trade, I think Holland will find it.

    The big concern for me is how much Lucic will continue to crater in terms of production.

  • Johnny Utah

    If you want a laugh, take a look at Canucks Army… some people are saying that the Oil would need to include this year’s 1st AND Bouchard to get it done!

    IMO, fair deal is somewhere in the middle. Think swapping firsts, or lower prospect like Bear, might be needed purely because of Eriksson’s better contract. I would hesitate to include Benson as I think he projects better than a typical 2nd. Anything more than that and I’d walk. Lucic brings more to the table as a hockey player – reasons noted in the article – and I think his value, being younger, more of a leader, playoff type player, and not being in the coach’s dog house, has more room to go up. Let’s revisit mid season if the ask is too much.

    • Cageyvet

      As a Canucks fan who wants exactly that to take Lucic, don’t laugh, we don’t think the Oilers would do that……it’s just a sign of how little we want or need Lucic.

      With all of Chiarelli’s bad moves, maybe Benning just thinks there’s one more horrible trade from the Oilers, it can’t hurt to ask.

      Both contracts suck, both players are huge disappointments, and both are unlikely to return to any kind of form that would justify their pay.

      The difference lies in the contract length, term, no movement clause, and the difference in the two team’s rosters.

      The Canucks aren’t stuck with using a protection spot with Eriksson. The Canucks have some of our best talent on ELC’s, there is zero cap pressure to force any move, or time factor to capitalize on the best player in the league’s prime years. We can afford to be patient.

      Eriksson is tradeable next year, and can at least kill penalties and shows up every now and then. Yeah he’s crap, but our team is only just emerging from having even worse in our bottom 6, Eriksson hanging around is an irritation, not a problem, at least not for a year or two.

      I listened to Oilers fans complain bitterly about Lucic all season. We kind of know he sucks, just like you know Eriksson sucks. Who pays 6 million for an intimidator? There are many cheaper options.

      If the contracts were identical, you’d find lots of Canucks fans who said wth, problem for problem, roll the dice. As it is, you want us to take an extra year of a crap contract (yes, LE’s is also crap), have a No Move Clause that costs us a protection slot in the expansion draft, as well as making him potentially untradeable (what if he says yeah, I’m staying here at home in Vancouver forever now), and help a division rival? Damn rights I want an overpayment. I can move on from Eriksson in a year without the player’s consent, and dump him, send him to the minors, or even buy him out. You have no leverage in this deal, and expecting a fair return for dumping that abysmal contract is what’s laughable, sorry.

  • toprightcorner

    Lucic would bring more value to VAN than Erickson to the Oilers. Petterson was manhandled and a target last year and missed 11 games. Boeser has never reached 70 games in a season and Hughes is 170 lbs. Lucic gives them protection they would otherwise not get. Erickson can kill penalties and other than that, doesn’t bring any more offence or notible advantages.

    I think Benning would take the extra year in term to add one of the most intimidating players in the league.

    The only reason why the Oilers would do the trade is for 1 less year in term, otherwise it doesn’t make sense. That means Holland will not add a sweetener

    I still think the only way Lucic goes to VAN is if a 3rd team is involved and the Oilers add in a sweetner or retain salary in order to get actual cap releif or a more serviceable 3C in return.

    Personally I would rather have Lucic in the playoffs than Erickson and neither one helps the Oilers get there.

    • toprightcorner

      I do not see the Oilers drafting Broberg. He is a fantastic skater, some say he only trails Hughes in that department. I have read many places that he is not a great passer and can struggle to transition the puck quickly without his legs. Oilers need dmen that are good at transitioning the puck quickly. Broberg is like Nurse, skates like the wind but can’t make a tape to tape pass and that doesn’t help solve their biggest weakness on the back end, quick transition to the forwards. There are too many good forwards to choose from to add a dman who doesn’t really fill a weakness.

      If Byram isn’t taken in the top 4, expect Holland to do whatever he can to move up to get him.

      I would trade the 8th, 2nd, Samarukov and Yamamoto to move up to pick Byram. I would throw in Bear and another pick if I had to. Byram is a legit #1 dman and reminds me of Doughty with better work ethic. People say he is the best dman in the WHL since Niedermeyer and is better than Subban, Ekblad and OEL. That is a player I would give up a bunch to get and he is flying g under the radar because of Hughes and Kakko and string USDT class.

  • Neilio

    Any trade discussion around the Oilers always starts with the notion that we’re desperate, have no options, and will be lucky to have an offer at all.

    I agree with Robin here. Vancouver stands to gain a lot more than Edmonton even in a 1 for 1 deal. Giving up a top prospect like Benson? So that we can have one less year of Lucic? No thanks! Handing over one of your most intimidating players to your rival, and having to pay them for the privilege? Pound sand.

    There is a difference between the two players too. Both have bad contracts, but Lucic would still be in the league if he was a UFA right now. He’d probably get less than half what he’s being paid now, but most teams would take him in their bottom six at the right price. Eriksson would probably have to sign a PTO if he was a UFA right now. He’s 34 and not getting better. Its not a 34 year old’s league. Lucic will be 34 when that contract runs out.

    I’d tell Vancouver that they need to throw in a sweetener or GTFO.

    As for Broberg, from what I’ve read, he sounds exactly like Klefbom. That’s good. But we have that already. Also Jones and Laggeson, who appear to have more offense. At #8, I’d hope they’re aiming higher than a safe, probably middle pairing defensive defenceman, who won’t even be that for 3 or 4 years. I’d be looking for offensive upside at this spot.

  • Derzie

    This who trade is coming from Vancouver media & Lucic. Oilers have nothing to gain. At all. Lucic is scary. Louie is not. Both are at the end. Time to move on from this trade as an option, unless the ‘sweetener’ is going to Edm.

  • OriginalPouzar

    Sorry Robyn, but I don’t agree that Lucic is the more productive player – certainly not over the last two years and those PPPG numbers are sewed by the 50 points Lucic put up in his first year (driven by a PP heater where all his numbers literally doubled previous career highs – he was essentially just as non-productive at evens).

    As far as straight points:

    Year one – clearly Lucic was superior with his PP heater

    Year two – Lucic had a few more points but in 30 more games – when healthy, Eriksson was the more productive player at both PPG and P/60

    Year three – Eriksson was the superior producer.

    Over the three years, Lucic’s 5 on 5 P/60 is 1.17 – fourth line rate

    Over the three years Eriksson’s 5 on 5 P/60 was not much better at 1.27

    This past year Eriksson’s 5 on 5 P/60 was actually a respectable 1.43 (higher than Kassian, Khaira, Chiasson, Rattie, Puljjuarvi and, of course, Lucic who was an 0.97).

    It seems Eriksson is the more productive offensive player.

    ———————————————–

    Also, Eriksson has been a consistent part of the Canuck PK for the three years and the numbers suggest he is solid in that role (actually, the numbers suggest he is better than that but I don’t want to get too far ahead of that). He played over a minute per game on the PK that was 11th in the NHL – the Oilers could use that.

    —————————————

    Eriksson also played a significant amount of his minutes this past season against elites – no, I’m not saying he’s a great 2-way player or defensive specialist but it seems his coach trusted him to at least munch some tough minutes.

    —————————–

    I’m not saying Eriksson is a great player or worth his contract, clearly not, however, the one year less term makes a one of one appealing (not to mention the lack of a NMC) and, clearly, Eriksson has been the more productive player over the last two years and provides a broader range of skills.

    • Oilman99

      Lucic’s physical play out shines anything Eriksson might contribute extra offensively. Eriksson is older, getting slower,softer, and there is no guarantee his goal contribution is not going downhill . Such a deal makes no sense.

  • ifiwasgm

    I would not, ever trade Lucic straight up for Eriksson. Sure Lucic is not worth $6mil but Eriksson is USELESS.
    Man please don’t send Lucic to Vancouver.
    Brings back memories of when the Oilers were the Canucks b**chs (Bieksa, Kesler…)
    Getting rid of Lucic will do more damage then keeping him.

  • CMG30

    I get that the idea to give a sweeter to rid ourselves of the better player is nauseating. But don’t forget that his contract forces us to protect him in the upcoming expansion draft. That means if we can’t move him we get to lose a very good roster player for nothing…

  • Kool-Aid Man

    I said this in the last article cam wrote and I’ll say it again.

    If there is any sweetener to be added, it had better be on Vancouver to sweeten it. I’m ok with a one-for-one but, if Edmonton is the one to add sweetener then it’s a Charelli trade.

  • rektangle

    I fully understand that offloading Lucic’s contract plus a sweetener for Eriksson is total crap. Just the thought of it leaves a poopy taste in ones mouth.
    However, are we not essentially giving up a “sweetener” if we keep Lucic’s contract into the expansion draft and are forced to protect him instead of some other serviceable players? We are caught between the proverbial rock and hard spot. IF Vancouver is asking for a sweetener, is it not better to have some control, through negotiation, as to what the sweetener would be rather than leave it all up to Seattle as to who gets chosen due to Lucic’s NMC. As much as it sucks, and provided the “sweetener” is nothing too substantial (such as Benson), I would offload Lucic’s contract solely based on the one less year, and not having to protect him with the upcoming expansion draft.

    This is all assuming that there are no compliance by-outs offered with the new CBA, and Holland doesn’t already have something planned with The Anchor.

    • Beer_League_Ringer

      Holland will wait for a better deal. If one doesn’t arise, he will cut bait. I am betting Holland gets a hockey trade done. Panic moves is what got us into this mess. Panic moves won’t get us out.

    • Just a Fan

      Regardless of Lucic’s status, the Oilers will lose a player to Seattle. It will likely be one of the young defense men currently in Bakersfield. The only thing protecting Lucic in the expansion draft means is that Seattle has one more player at the bottom of the roster to select from.

      NOTE: I do not believe the Oilers will protect Lucic. He will waive is NMC or they will buy him out.

    • T.J.F.M

      Keep in mind that we would be losing the “sweetener” that we negotiate – and STILL lose a good player in the expansion draft.

      I have been for the Lucic for Eriksson deal from the moment it was first mentioned – but I am NOT for us adding anything to the deal. No retainment of salary and no addition of a prospect or pick.

      1-for-1, and if that doesn’t solidify the deal, then we look around for other options.

      • Cageyvet

        As a Canucks fan, I respect Oilers fans who would happily make the 1 for 1 swap. It’s not going to happen, but it shows a clear understanding that the deal would be an Oilers win.

        Since nobody seems to mind trading Lucic, they just don’t want to get fleeced, it’s an accepted fact that his contract is brutal.

        Even if you hate Eriksson, he fills a roster spot pretty much the same way Lucic does…..poor value for the dollar, in a salary cap world.

        One less year, not saddled with all the ramifications of the no movement clause, this is damage reduction. Because it’s so obvious, the Canucks won’t do the straight up deal, but at least you’re not actually thinking the Canucks should sweeten the deal. That’s truly ludicrous.

        There’s probably better deals out there for both teams than what our respective fanbases want to see, but let’s be realistic. The Oilers may have the better player, you can debate that all night, but they damn sure have the worst contract. In a cap world, and with expansion looming, there’s not a snowball’s chance in hell you move Lucic to any team without a sweetener.

  • CityofWhat

    Forget Eriksson, if I was Holland I would go after Brandon Sutter for Lucic and maybe then I would add a sweetener but it wouldn’t be Benson or a second. I would send Bear or maybe a 3rd and Lucic for Sutter that would solve the 3rd line C who is a right shot and when healthy can score 15-18 goals a season.

  • Beer

    1. NTC, NMC Player’s shouldn’t have to be protected if the contract was signed before expansion was announced. It’s just another way for the NHL to rig a expansion draft.
    2.Fighting could well be banned in the NHL the time Lucic’s contract runs out.
    3. There is lots of KHL quality player’s and officials for KHL expansion, but theyr’e working in the NHL.

  • Since 72

    I don’t get some people! What’s so hard to understand? Why do we have to add to a trade for lessor washed up player like Ericksson? We have the better player he just happens to be overpaid for what he does. The contract isn’t his fault, I would have signed that contract too!

  • OilCan2

    The trade is one for one. They both have to sign off on it so it may be a stretch just on that point alone. If they are talking Goldobin I might be listening.