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Photo Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

REPORT: Milan Lucic traded to the Flames for James Neal

Well, it looks like it’s finally happened. The long-awaited divorce between Milan Lucic and the Edmonton Oilers has been completed. The Oilers have reportedly linked up on a deal with their provincial rivals, the Calgary Flames, on a deal to swap Lucic for James Neal. 

Lucic was signed by Peter Chiarelli back on July 1, 2016, to a seven-year deal worth $6 million annually. We all knew that Lucic’s deal would become problematic at some point during the seven years, but nobody expected him to fall off a cliff this quickly. Lucic had a strong 2016-17 season, helping the Oilers to the playoffs with a 23-goal season. In the following two seasons, though, Lucic scored just 16 goals.

Neal was signed by the Flames last July and lasted just one year in Calgary. In each of his 10 seasons in the NHL, Neal managed to hit the 20-goal plateau until 2018-19 in which he scored just seven goals in 63 games for the Flames. Like Lucic, Neal has four more years left on his contract, but he has a smaller cap hit of $5.75 million.

This deal is ultimately a swap of forwards with bad contracts in need of a change of scenery. Both Neal and Lucic are 31 years old, so it’s hard to say if either will ever become the player they used to be, but if I had to make a bet, I would suggest Neal becoming a 20-goal scorer is much, much more likely than Lucic becoming the feared force he was in Boston ever again.

Beyond the change of scenery thing, Neal’s contract would be much easier to buy out than Lucic’s buyout-proof deal. If the Oilers were to buy out Neal next June during the buy out window, he would come at a cap hit of $1,916,667 for the next six seasons.

More details are coming out about the deal. The Oilers will apparently be retaining $600k of Lucic’s salary, meaning they won’t really be getting that $250k savings in swapping Lucic’s $6 million cap hit for Neal’s $5.75 million cap hit. In sum, the Oilers will be taking on a $350k cap hit in this swap with the salary retention considered.



  • Collin87

    Neal just didnt mesh in their top six, so would be crazy to expect him to get anywhere near 20 goals. Whereas Looch lost another step and all confidence with puck in Edmonton. Good for both teams but surely a win for Oil, escpecially considering options with Neals contract if cant stay healthy.

  • YFC Prez

    So Holland just got rid of the worst contract from the Chiarelli era and at the same time acquired a top 6 veteran player for nuge’s line. Big move. Especially with benson very close to getting a cup of coffee in the big leagues. He will benefit from having 2 vets to play with whenever he’s ready (very soon I imagine).

    This all depends on what Neal we got. Was last year a one off? Or is that what to expect. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to hope for a bounce back from the player.

  • FlamesFan27

    Weird offseason with both teams up against the cap. I think the potential upside for the Oilers is better. And, the Oilers have an excape clause (buyout). I don’t like this trade from a Flames fan perspective. I hope I’m wrong.

  • Dallas Eakins Hair

    I like Looch, for his meaness which I think the Oilers are going to miss, so hope things work out for Looch. Now we have to hope like hell Neal can bounce back.

    James Neal will also not take up a protected spot for Seattle expansion. Lucic will. The Oilers can protect one more player with Lucic gone.

  • Dallas Eakins Hair

    I like Looch, for his meaness which I think the Oilers are going to miss, so hope things work out for Looch. Now we have to hope like hell Neal can bounce back.

    James Neal will also not take up a protected spot for Seattle expansion. Lucic will. The Oilers can protect one more player with Lucic gone.

    • Dallas Eakins Hair

      Two conditions have to be met for Oilers to send 3rd round pick to Calgary – James Neal has to record at least 21 goals and Lucic scores at least 10 fewer goals than Neal.