Oilers should trade Milan Lucic for Loui Eriksson if possible

Milan Lucic has been linked to the Vancouver Canucks for a while, including a strange interview on TSN 1040 where Lucic muses about playing for the Canucks one day. The Oilers should resolve the Lucic situation. Both the team and the player want a split at this point. Loui Eriksson for Lucic isn’t the most desirable avenue, but the Oilers should take it if it’s on the table.

(5-on-5) Milan Lucic Loui Eriksson
Season PTS/60 CF% Rel ATOI PTS/60 CF% Rel ATOI
16-17 1.21 1.98 17:1 0.98 3.05 18:41
17-18 1.3 0.71 15:58 1.48 2.74 16:16
18-19 0.97 3.51 13:14 1.43 -1.01 14:04

Both players aren’t the top-six players they used to be. Lucic turned 31 last week and Eriksson will be 34 next season. There’s a lot of miles on both players. Even with the three-year age difference, I’d trade Lucic for Eriksson.

Lucic hasn’t been a difference maker 5-on-5 in Edmonton. He had the second-worst season 5-on-5 since his rookie year in his debut season in Edmonton. Lucic had an uncharacteristic run on the power play in 2016-17 to mask that decline. He had one more 5-on-5 point in 2017-18, but the power-play points dried up.

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The contracts aren’t much different. Eriksson’s is a year shorter but they’re both loaded with signing bonuses that make a buyout almost pointless. One less year is important, but it shouldn’t require a huge addition from Edmonton. It could allow them to flip Eriksson a year later. Eriksson is owed only $5-million in real dollars after his $3-million signing bonus is paid for the 2020-21 season. There’d be a $5-million difference between his salary and his cap hit in 2020-21. That could be attractive to a team like Arizona, Ottawa, or New Jersey.

Still nothing official on the James Neal conditional pick

Lucic doesn’t penalty kill and power play time feels like a lost cause at this point too. Eriksson offers more speed and penalty-killing prowess, as well as experience playing under new head coach Dave Tippett. We know Lucic would waive his trade protection for Vancouver, would Eriksson waive his no-trade clause to play for Tippett again in Edmonton?

Lucic for Eriksson isn’t ideal. The cap hit is the same and both players are bottom-six guys at this point. Eriksson is a marginal upgrade at this point, but he’s a fresh face and carries a year less on his contract. Good enough for me.

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What about James Neal?

(5-ON-5) Milan Lucic James Neal
Season PTS/60 CF% Rel ATOI PTS/60 CF% Rel ATOI
16-17 1.21 1.98 17.1 1.47 1.01 17:42
17-18 1.3 0.71 15.58 1.75 -0.51 17:11
18-19 0.97 3.51 13:14 0.99 -3.2 14.57

James Neal might be another option if the Oilers move Lucic for another problem contract. Neal was a flop in Calgary. He makes just $250K less than Lucic and also has four more years left on his contract, but unlike Lucic and Eriksson’s contracts, a Neal buyout provides actual cap relief. A Neal buyout this summer produces a $1.916-million penalty for the next eight years. Waiting a year means the penalty lasts only six years.

The Big Questions: When will the NHL offseason happen?

Neal had two decent scoring seasons in the past three years. Can he recover some of his scoring alongside McDavid or Draisaitl? Neal spent most of last season with Mark Jankowski and Sam Bennett. That’s not the same as playing with Erik Haula and David Perron in Vegas or Calle Jarnkrok and Ryan Johansen in Nashville.

Elliotte Friedman poured cold water on the idea in his latest 31 Thoughts article. Friedman says the Flames thought about Lucic for Neal, “but decided against it.”

Trading Lucic for Eriksson or Neal doesn’t address significant cap concerns next season, but it resolves an unpleasant storyline that will hang over next season. Maybe Eriksson or Neal rebound and you have a more productive veteran with less of a cap headache to potentially move. It’s not the perfect transaction, but the Oilers won’t be Stanley Cup contenders next June. Setting up the cap for 2020-21 and beyond is a nice consolation prize.

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  • Holland is in a no win situation here, if he says with Lucic and he mails it in and Ericsson has above par year he will get criticized. Even that he could get moved is progress.
    But van is his dream retirement move which he has not earned and in our division is way too risky. If a similar deal came from the east I think we would have to look at it but would let it happen.
    If he wants a to call his future he has to earn it. IMO