UFA Options for Holland and Lucic Trade Talk

What Ken Holland would like to add and what he can add are very different. He hasn’t hid behind the fact he’d like to add another scoring winger, but he doesn’t have much cap space and until the contract demands of existing UFAs drop, he doesn’t have the room to add who he wants.

Holland was close on a few players leading up to July first, but other teams offered them more. In the case of Wayne Simmonds, it was $1.5 million more. That’s the reality right now, but with every passing day the potential for salary demands to drop will increase.

Here’s what I know about some salaries right now

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Derick Brassard‘s camp was looking for $4 million over four years. Considering Marcus Johansson signed for $4.5 million for only two years, there is almost no chance Brassard will get the term he wants. But for now, he has no reason to drop his salary demands. Wayne Simmonds got $5 million for one year, and Brassard’s camp likely won’t budge off of $4 million for now.

He is coming off the worst season of his career, producing only 23 points in 70 games. His rookie season he only played 31 games due to injury, but still scored 25 points.

Prior to this season, he had produced, starting in 2014, 45, 60, 58, 39 and 46 points. He averaged 50 points over five seasons before stubbing his toe heading into free agency. Once again debunking the myth that players magically have career years leading into a contract year. Some players perform well, others remain status quo and some struggle. If it was easy to just flip a switch and have a career year in the final year of a contract then all players would do it. But it isn’t.

Make no mistake, NHL GMs will use Brassard’s down season to their advantage, just like agents use a career year for their client to his advantage. Brassard’s 14-9-23 season will cost him some money and term, it is just a matter of how much.

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I’m told the Oilers could find a way to go to $3million, but ideally they’d like to come in around $2-$2.5 million. .


Ryan Dzingel is still available, but is looking for something in the $4-$5 million range. He might get that on a short-term deal. Ottawa had offered $5mil/year for five years according to Elliott Friedman, but Dzingel’s camp turned it down. If he has a change of heart, would they still offer that? Hard to say, but I’m told teams are curious why the Blue Jackets elected not to sign him after they lost Matt Duchene, Artemi Panarin and Sergei Bobrovsky. It has some teams wondering if there are concerns about his game? Whether that is fair or not, he might be a financial victim of optics.

Michael Ferland has scored 41 and 40 points the past two seasons in Calgary and Carolina. The main concern, from three different organizations that I spoke with, is his concussion history. They all like what he brings, but are leery of the possibility of another concussion. Head injuries are very scary, but the fact he might get another from delivering a body check or from receiving one is working against him in free agency. It sounds like he is going to have to settle for a short-term deal.

Ferland had 35 EV points with Calgary in 2018 and only six on the PP. Last year, in Carolina, he had 27 at EV, and 13 on the PP. He is unlikely to get on the first PP unit in Edmonton because they already have three left-shot forwards in Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Chiasson was very good in front of the net, and he shoots right. But Ferland’s play with Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan is what makes him appealing. He is smart enough and skilled enough to play with skilled forwards. He is on the Oilers radar, but his salary demand will have to drop in order for them to be a serious bidder.

It is very unlikely Patrick Maroon is a fit in Edmonton, simply because of Milan Lucic. I know it worked in 2017, but having both heading into next season isn’t ideal. The Oilers don’t have interest in Maroon at this time.

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Over the weekend, I was informed there have been no serious talks regarding a Lucic trade. Opposing teams are not interested. His bonus due date doesn’t change the fact he is a $6 million cap hit for four more years. I’ve seen some speculate it is July 17th, but a source sent me a text this morning. Confirming 100% the contract clearly states July 1st as the bonus date for Lucic.

I wonder if those pushing July 17th got it mixed up with McDavid. His bonus is due July 17th, 2019. But I have it confirmed from a source on both sides of Lucic and the Oilers that July first is his bonus due date on every year of his deal, except the initial year when he received his $4million bonus on September 16th. Maybe they agreed to alter the date, but the original contract states July first.

It might have happened, but it would have required both sides agreeing to delaying it. Which would be very odd. And from what I’m told right now there is no trade talk that hinges on a bonus being paid prior to the trade.

I sense this bonus due date has Oilersnation talking because many are holding out hope it means Lucic can be traded after. I understand the theory behind it, but I don’t believe there is much to it in reality for many reasons. Lucic has a NMC and he has to agree to a trade. He will not agree to Ottawa, which many have speculated due to their cap space. Vancouver was discussed, but the Eriksson for Lucic trade was more rumour than close to occurring. The Oilers would have to add a lot to take Lucic, and then it has to be a team he wants to go to. He believes the Oilers can be competitive so, outside of Vancouver, he isn’t interested in going to a team he thinks is further away from competing.

The Toronto Maple Leafs had to add a sweetener of a 1st round pick to Carolina in order for the Hurricanes to take Patrick Marleau’s contract. He only had one year remaining at $6 million. Lucic has four. At this point, do not expect a Lucic trade. This can change, of course, but there has been no serious trade discussions to this point. Lucic is training in LA and has been working with a skills coach. The Oilers are hopeful that will allow him to be more productive this season. His camp is confident he can be more productive as well. Skating isn’t the area of weakness. He thinks the game well, but the past 18 months his puck skills have eroded. A lack of confidence is part of that, but working on those small area drills with a skills coach will help. He needs to make better plays with the puck, and he has to improve his play along the wall.

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Also, the James Neal for Milan Lucic rumour was shot down from a source from both organizations. Neal’s name is out there and he is available, but nothing serious has emerged between Edmonton and Calgary at this point.

If you are into bonus due dates. Next summer here are the bonus dates: Milan Lucic is July 1st ($3mill), Leon Draisaitl ($7mill), McDavid ($13 mill) and Mikko Koskinen ($500,000) are on July 15th. Kris Russell is July 16th ($1mill).


Regardless if Holland can sign another UFA this summer, expect a few veterans to sign PTOs with the Oilers. They saw what Alex Chiasson did with his PTO. He earned a one-year deal at $650,000 after a strong preseason, and then had a career-year and signed for $4.3 million over two years.

No team in the NHL has the Oilers combination of skilled centres and a lack of proven scoring wingers. The opportunity to come to camp, earn a spot and then work your way up the lineup is a very realistic possibility.

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Right now Edmonton has the 13th and 14th forward spots open, plus Joakim Nygard and Gaetan Haas are on two-way contracts. A veteran would look at that and see four open spots. I was told by three different agents, that they would recommend to a client, especially if they were a winger, to take a PTO in Edmonton over most teams at this point.

Names to keep on eye on in late August or early September if they are still unsigned could include Oscar Lindberg, Dmitri Jaskin, Jamie McGinn or Magnus Paajarvi to name a few.

Holland wants to sign another UFA forward, but the prices are still too high. That could change in the next few weeks and especially later into the summer. We have seen free agents have to take shorter term and reduced money before and Holland will be pressing to find those types of deals. The other option, is if he can find a good return for Jesse Puljujarvi.


Are you a sports trivia buff? If you are, and can find a partner, then send me an email to [email protected]. We are having a special SPORTS ONLY trivia at Smarty Pints Trivia next Tuesday at Match Eatery and Public House in West Edmonton Mall. No cost to enter, but the winner will win many prizes, and more important, bragging rights that they are the Sports gurus of Edmonton. First place prize includes ten rounds of golf, gift certificates and more.

We have room for three more teams, so email me and let me know why your team is qualified. Good luck.

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After having such a blast over the past two years, we absolutely knew that we were going to organize another golf tourney for the summer and, after a few months of planning, we’re psyched to finally be able to launch our third annual golf tournament.

  • When – August 29th, 2019 (Thursday)
  • Where – Cougar Creek Golf Resort
  • How much – $1000/team or get in on the $900 Early Bird price until July 10th
  • Teams – Groups of Four (4)
  • How – Book your team here

As always, a portion of all proceeds from your ticket purchase will be donated directly to a local charity. This time we’ve partnered up with the Gregor Foundation to make sure that our kids are at their most handsome.

Recently by Jason Gregor:

  • Spydyr

    The team is still short two top six wingers, a starting goalie and two top four defenceman. Of course that cannot be fixed in summer never mind a few summers. There are many miles to go before we can sleep.

    It just goes to show the massive failure that the Oiler organization has been in the Katz era. Shameful actually.

    • Connor's Girlfriend

      I agree with you. Except “maybe” we have 3 top 4 defencemen so only need 1 more.
      so… worst case scenario this team needs.
      A Starting Goalie
      2 Top Six Wingers
      1 Top 4 D-Man.
      Those are MAJOR holes to fill!!!!
      The Oilers are a mess.
      Connor is far too competitive to play here much longer with no playoffs in sight.

      I too blame Daryl Katz and in 3 years when we don’t improve under Holland all of the sports writers are going to be complaining that we hired a GM that was too old and out of touch with todays game. Well…. I’ll let you in on a secret. We know that already. Just look how good Detroit has been over the last few years.

      • All Ice

        Detroit is a product of its own success. Holland was told to keep the playoff streak going as long as possible and once it stopped to then rebuild. His deals since the streak ended are pretty good. I can’t say whether we’ll have success or not over the next couple seasons but to complain by drawing comparisons between the most successful organization of the last few decades and the current oilers is just foolish

  • billsbills

    A good return for JP is as unlikely as a Lucic trade at this point.

    The question is can JP swallow his pride and come into camp and earn his way into the roster? A new coach and GM should mean a new opportunity for JP to make an impact.

    It will be a tough year I imagine. I don’t see any magic elixir to cure what’s in the water in Edmonton.

  • hagar

    Should Ferlands concussion worry be an issue since he is a ufa? It would be way more of a gamble if a team were giving up assets for him, but is it even a risk since he only requires money to sign?

    If he gets messed up and goes in the injured reserve list, then the money becomes available again no?

    • OriginalPouzar

      No, that is not how LTIR works – the cap hit never goes away. There is a mechanism for a relief cushion but its highly ineffective and hugely limiting to building a team.

  • JimmyV1965

    The Leafs added a first round pick to trade Marleau and his $6 mill. Yet the Avs received a third rounder to trade Soderberg and his $5 mill. Still don’t Lucic can be traded.

    • Jason Gregor

      Soderberg has one year left on his deal at $4.75 mill. But he also scored 23-26-49 last year. That is a great trade for Arizona. Give up a 3rd to get a guy with one year left, coming off a very good year. Don’t see how Lucic compares to him at all.

      • Redbird62

        The Marleau and Lucic circumstances are not equivalent either. First, Toronto had to absolutely shed a big contract or give up on a few of their RFA’s so they were not bargaining from any position of strength at all. Marleau was the guy because he wants to head back to San Jose anyway. Edmonton might like to get trade Lucic, but should not be desperate to get rid of him (bloggers on here not withstanding). And the acquiring team fully intended to buy Marleau out. The team acquiring Lucic presumably wants him to play. If the Oilers take back someone like Eriksson since you are trading problems, then you only need to add a sweetener if the problems are not equal (term, age, NMCs etc.) then a sweetener may be needed, but I would be surprised if the Oilers viewed the problem reduction from Lucic to Eriksson worth a first rounder, or a highend prospect. Hard to speculate on other trade scenarios without knowing a) what the consideration is and b) what is the bargaining position of the other party.

        • Jason Gregor

          Taking back Eriksson saves no money, so it doesn’t solve the problem of cap room. Of course Edm wouldn’t give up a 1st for one less year of Lucic, when it won’t occur until 2022… The point was that Soderberg isn’t close comparison to Lucic. He was productive. Lucic and Marleau weren’t, and Lucic has 4 years left so much harder to move him than one year of Marleau is how I see it.

        • HockeyYoda

          You’re splitting hairs on how much the Leafs wanted to trade Marleau in comparison to how much the Oilers want to trade Lucic. Bottom line, they’re both teams that want to shed a bad contract. Besides term, biggest difference IMO is that Marleau can still play despite his dip in production. With Lucic, that’s highly debatable to those outside of Edmonton.

    • The real dealbreaker for Lucic in Vancouver is his NMC and the expansion draft. If we protect 7 forwards (because our defence sucks and we don’t have 4 defenders worth protecting), we protect young core/semi-core players (Pettersson, Boeser, Horvat, Gaudette, Virtanen, Goldobin), some offensive veterans (Miller plus guys like Baertschi, Pearson if resigned) and any prospects that may become eligible (e.g. Lind, Gadjovich). We can’t afford to use a protection slot on Lucic. Even if you took Eriksson, gave us Lucic for free and threw in a sweetener, it still doesn’t work and we lose a more productive player.

      • Jason Gregor

        I will be very surprised if Lucic doesn’t waive him NMC for the expansion draft. He and the team who he is on at that time, can make a deal, he waives it for draft, then gets it back on after. SEA won’t take him. No chance, so the team gets to protect another player. I don’t see any reason why Lucic wouldn’t do it. It benefits his team and there is zero chance SEA will take him with his cap hit and term.

  • Dave Marks

    Resigned to yet another wasted non-playoff season for the Oil. How many more before McD demands out? So they bring in a dude like Holland that is known for patience, over seasoning & missing out on the playoffs as a result. I don’t get it.

  • Kelly Youngblood

    Columbus passed on JP and used that pick to land a very good player in Dubois. The fact they haven’t tried retaining Dzingel makes me wonder what they don’t see in him either. Too one dimensional maybe?

    • HockeyYoda

      Dzingel was really invisible in the playoffs. And it’s not like he didn’t have good line-mates to play with. But I think often it’s just a chemistry thing. Duchene really did nothing for Ottawa after the big trade for about half the season until he adjusted.

  • Russky

    I am still hopeful for Lucic to bounce back. If he can get 40 points, we will be in good shape i think. As you stated in your previous piece, we do not need much if all our forwards,outside of top 3, can step their game a little. If all our guys give extra 3-5%, we will have postseason.

  • D

    I’m happy that Lucic isn’t leaving Edmonton. I like him and if the Oil ever make the playoffs (that’s a big if), having Lucic in the lineup will be beneficial.

  • TKB2677

    I don’t expect a Lucic trade to happen. I didn’t think he could get worse than his second year but he did. To me he gave up last year in the second half. So why on earth would a team want to take that unless the sweetener is ridiculously high. It got floated weeks ago that a rumor of JP was what it would take as a sweetner. I don’t think that’s enough.

  • Vanoil

    I’m not sure Gregor and the rest of the fan base see the same player in Lucic. His skating is definitely an issue.Maybe not for the fourth line which is just straight-line forward power skating with little stopping (checking instead) and no edge work, but then his endurance is an issue. He certainly doesn’t have the edge work (nor stamina for that matter) to follow players in the defensive zone, nor to switch positions in the offensive zone on a skilled line. On the third line, which has been an unsuccessful hybrid line of sorts on the Oilers he can muddle his way through but tends not to back check preferring the line change route instead of defensive coverage after being spent in the ozone, he gets away with it lots in home games but certainly not on the road. At this point he is the prototypical 13th forward, being paid as a top 6 or top 3. Yes the contract sucks, but maybe he retires early after sitting in the press box for 82 games. He still gets his pay-cheque so likely has nothing to complain about.

    • TKB2677

      Totally disagree. While not elite nor would I call him fast, his skating isn’t an issue. He had 259 hits. As a forward, you aren’t like a dman where the play comes to you, a forward takes the play. SO if he can’t skate, he wouldn’t be getting a lot of hits because the puck/player would be long gone. He also gets a lot of scoring chances. He hits a lot of posts and crossbars, he misses the net or just misses the pass. So that means he’s getting to spots for scoring chances. If his skating was so bad, he wouldn’t even be getting to the open spots.

      What I see him having problems with is his puck skills. The play dies on his stick. HIs board work and getting pucks out is poor, his passing has declined, his shooting isn’t that good. He either misses the net or drills it into the pads. At times he can’t get the puck up in tight. All those things don’t have anything to do with skating.

      • Serious Gord

        He has some speed left in his skating but his agility on those skates is about as bad as it gets… That noted it is his mental quickness that has fallen off most dramatically and that is most visible in his awful stick skills. As I have commented in the past, perhaps improved training and skills regimens can help him regain some of what has been lost.

      • HockeyYoda

        I agree his puck skills are really lacking. Makes me think perhaps the best off-season training for him would be to hire that Pavel Barbar guy. Apparently Jake Virtanen did that last summer. I definitely noticed an improvement in his puck skills and his stats improved as well.

      • russ99a

        Puck skills and battle level are way more a problem with a Lucic than skating. Look at his games with LA, he’d win those battles on the way lol and hold his own in front of the net, now he can’t do either.

        He seems to give up on the play way, way too much, could be a mix of conditioning and confidence.

        We’ve heard this before many times, but maybe Tippett gets through to him a bit more, as the only thing that makes a Lucic trade possible is improved play.

  • Abagofpucks

    Time for jesse to get traded or punt him to europe, with his agent flapping his gums in the media it undermines anything the oilers can do to trade him to a team in the nhl.

    If lucic isn’t willing to go anywhere it does make him untradeable and we have to keep him and hope he can improve. Ottawa likely would have been the only team we could have unloaded him to because of how massively there under the cap floor.

    Holland is smart to wait till a reasonable player or players that fit our cap restraints shakes loose.

    • Dallas Eakins Hair

      Okay dont know what happened there… If there is a deal that makes sense for Holland to trade Jesse, I am sure he will, but if not expect Jesse to go to Europe for the season. At this point Jesse’s agent is doing anything to help trade Jesse and Jesse;s trade value is so low and especially with him coming off surgery. Honestly its best of Jesse goes overseas and play a tons of minutes and rips it up. Only way I see Jesse going anywhere is he is in a package with another player, but right now I dont see that happening

      • TKB2677

        I see JP being part of a package for a player.

        It’s become apparent that the team doesn’t want JP and I don’t blame them. The Oilers share lots of blame but JP hasn’t done his part either. The whole not being able to speak English was the start. Tons of people learn English in Finland as a second language. He was highly touted more than a year before he was drafted so he knew he would be going to the NHL at some point, a league in an English continent. You don’t have to be fluent but being able to speak the language to some degree is critical. Even Laine who wasn’t fluent could speak some English, enough to get by. IF any one of us was planning on taking a job in another non English speaking company and we had more than a year to get ready. Most of us would take some language classes prior to going over to at least be able to function. That is just one major Red Flag from a player who clearly has a ton. So I could see why the team would be done with him. He’s been here for 3 yrs and he still can’t speak very well. In the middle of the game in the heat of the battle, you need to be able to communicate and his linemates can’t even have a basic conversation because he still can’t understand the language.

      • TKB2677

        The agent does work for the player so if the agent is mouthing off, the player should know what is happening and be fine with it.

        If JP isn’t OK with it but just letting it happen, then he is clearly extremely immature, not ready to be a professional and acting like a little kid who’s dad runs his life. Maybe that is the case because it would explain a lot as to why JP didn’t show any sort of improvement.

  • Beer_League_Ringer

    Looch will adapt his game. He is clearly overpaid, but that doesn’t mean he has negative (on ice) value like the toxic rhetoric suggests. We will be happy we have him when we need him.

  • The Perceptor

    What are the odds that the Oilers and Sens could get together for a trade involving Lucic and Bobby Ryan? Both players have a NMC, so I’m guessing it’s a low percentage chance. But the Sens are an odd team, so who knows what their plans are, so I think it couldn’t hurt to inquire.

    Ryan, who is a much needed RW for the Oilers, would slot in on a line with Draisaitl and McDavid, and he has an AAV of 7.25M, which is 1.25 more than Lucic, while the contract is just 1 year shorter. Both teams could add smaller pieces into the deal to balance it out. Ryan is coming off a season of 42 points, but had season totals of 33 and 25 points in the 2 seasons prior, as he played 62 games in each of those seasons. He did have 56 points back in 2016.

    Couldn’t hurt to ask, and see where talks end up.

    • cityofchampions

      If Lucic isn’t willing to go to Ottawa, there might not be any harm in asking, but there isn’t any use in asking either. I think Lucic would waive to a lot of teams to get out of Edmonton, but Ottawa is not one of those teams.

  • ed from edmonton

    I’m glad JG has stated that there “have been no serious talks” about Lucic trade. I suspect there were “no serious talks” last summer either. Lucic trade rumrs must be some kind of record for much ado about nothing.

  • cityofchampions

    Lucic probably isn’t tradeable for another 2 bonus payments. Once he’s down to 2 years left after the bonus payment on July 1, 2021…then maybe a deal can be arranged. Until then..we are stuck with him so lets hope for the best and that his off-season training makes a difference.