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. 

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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.

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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.

    • Ken Holland

      Oilers keep getting faster. I’m in shock we were able to pull this off. Keep the moves coming. Next up is JP.

      Opening Day Roster:

      Draisaitl – McDavid – Kassian
      Neal – Nuge – Chiasson
      Granlund – Haas – Nygard
      Gagner – Khaira – Archibald

      Klefbom – Larsson
      Nurse – Russell
      Jones – Benning

      • Ken Holland

        I wouldn’t mind adding Brassard with the remaining space.

        Our 3C is the most glaring roster hole and we have just over 4 mil in cap space left (once we send Brodziak and Manning down). I am liking the speed on the bottom 6.

      • FlamesFan27

        Did you watch both Calgary and Edmonton last season? Lucic is faster than Neal. But, Lucic handles the puck like a hand grenade. So, skill wise it’s a trade-off (you can make arguments both ways).

        I don’t like either player/contract, but Oilers won this trade. Neal has only has 1 bad season. Lucic has had 2.5 bad seasons. And the Oilers can at least buy out Neal.

  • rnj

    Finally we win a trade in a big way. Neal can potentially bounce back, Looch is the player he is now. Neal’s contract can be dealt with via buyout as well. Incredible

  • AlexTheOilersFanSince2006

    Welp…I’m gonna miss you Milan. I like you and I wish you the best in Calgary. As for Neal…welcome to Edmonton and you’re gonna light it up with Connor.

  • Dean Martin

    Neal has been working out with Connor all summer…
    Knew about it since late June, was supposed to be some sort of 3 way deal with Eriksson, but Vancouver couldn’t come to terms…
    The Oilers & Calgary just did it on their own. Calgary obviously needed to add size. Neals’ got a great shot, that was under utilized on the Flames.
    Will slot in great with Nuge.

  • McDude

    There are all sorts of ifs and buts associated with this deal. I don’t like that fact that Lucic’s intimidating presence will be gone from the lineup and I like the fact that he’ll be intimidating other teams with the Phlegms, but the Oilers do have another couple of guys who can step in, including Kassian, especially if he is one of McDavid’s wingmen next season.

    If Neal can come close to replicating his scoring seasons of years gone by, we’ll all be toasting this trade in a year. Toward the end his production will likely drop off, but by then the poison pill to buy him out will be much less. If Neal doesn’t score… Oh the horror!