If Ken Holland is unable to free up any cap space it could be a very underwhelming off-season for the Oilers. He could buyout Sam Gagner, he could try to move Sekera or Russell and while those types of moves will certainly help we can’t avoid the elephant in the room — Milan Lucic.
Any Lucic transaction will likely involve the Oilers retaining salary; it’s just a matter of how much. The amount of retained salary will be directly related to whatever sweetener Holland is willing to include. The Oilers new GM will also have to maneuver around Lucic’s no movement clause but I get the sense the player will be a willing participant in most situations.
So who or what should Holland be willing to give away in order to undo one of Peter Chiarelli’s biggest mistakes?

THE SWEETENERS

1st Round Pick 2019

I can only see one scenario where this pick would be included in a deal to move the Lucic contract and I’m still not sure I’d be a fan of the move.
Let’s say Ken Holland has a commitment from Artemi Panarin or Matt Duchene and the only way they afford to sign that player is to move the entire Lucic contract. This will never happen but it was worth mentioning because it’s the only possible way I could see the 1st round pick in 2019 being involved.
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2nd Round Pick in 2019

I would be willing to move the Oilers second round pick in 2019 and retain one million bucks on the Lucic deal to free up five million in cap space and a roster spot. It likely won’t be enough.
The problem with this scenario is trying to find a dance partner. The Senators may be the only team that will be desperate to get to the cap floor but would Lucic be willing to waive his no move to go to Ottawa?

JESSE PULJUJARVI

The easiest name to throw in the mix is Jesse Puljujarvi. The big Finn just turned 21-years old but many people are ready to write him off. If you are in the camp that believes Puljujarvi is trending towards bust territory then you would certainly be willing to give him away to move Lucic.
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It won’t be a surprise to many of you but I still believe Puljujarvi could become a reliable second line winger in the NHL. So if Holland moves Puljujarvi to help dump the Lucic contract he’d have to get a useable asset in return.

KAILER YAMAMOTO

Yamamoto’s professional career is off to a bumpy start. In 26 NHL games, he has just one goal and five points. He battled injuries in Bakersfield this season on his way to 18 points in 27 games.
Anybody penciling the former Spokane Chief into the Oilers starting night lineup next season is delusional. Like Puljujarvi, your willingness to use Yamamoto as a sweetener in a Lucic deal depends entirely on your personal view of his potential. I’d rather include Yamamoto than Puljujarvi.

TYLER BENSON

Benson is definitely trending in the right direction and I think most Oilers fans would be against moving him at this point. Benson alone wouldn’t be enough to move the Lucic contract without having to still retain a significant cap hit.
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DARNELL NURSE

I saw someone ask on Twitter last week if fans would be open to tossing Darnell Nurse in a deal to move the entire Lucic contract. The answer is no. Never. I did see a few people say they would be willing to do it but I just can’t justify it anyway. Nurse is by no means untouchable but to suggest him being a sweetener in a Lucic deal is just ridiculous.

1st Round Pick in 2020

I’d said a few times this off-season I’d be willing to move the 1st round pick in 2020 if the return was immediate help that could push the Oilers into the post-season. Using the draft pick to move Lucic doesn’t really fit the criteria.
If the Oilers did trade the 2020 1st to free up the Lucic space I’d assume it would be the entire contract and that they’d have something bigger coming down the pipe.
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ETHAN BEAR

I’d be willing to move Bear in a deal but I’m not sure what type of value he actually holds. Most NHL teams already have an Ethan Bear type in their system.

THE OTHER YOUNG D

Adding Bouchard, Samorukov or Jones is a non-starter for me. Maybe I’m thinking too highly of Caleb Jones but unless a team was willing to take Lucic’s entire contract and add a pick in return I don’t think it’s a good idea to weaken the future of the Oilers blueline.

MY SWEETENER

In the end, I would be willing to offer Ethan Bear, a 2nd in 2019, a 3rd in 2020 while at the same time retaining $1,500,000 to move Lucic. How high would you be willing to go with your sweetener?

Previously by Dustin Nielson: