The swirling hell pit of NHL trade rumours has once again set it’s sights on the Edmonton Oilers.
I’ll start this by outlining the problem. Milan Lucic makes $6 million until 2023, with a no move clause allowing an 8 team trade list until 2022, then a 10 team trade list is to be submitted.
As you can see, his points production has dropped off alarmingly— most of this season he’s looked like he’s had cinder blocks tied to his hands. Lucic played a 29 game stretch from late December to early March without scoring a goal. The goal scored March 5th, breaking the drought, would be his final for the season.
In my eyes, this leaves two paths: staying the course and hoping this year was simply a slow year, or trade him now before his potential value gets any lower.
Lucic has expressed that he struggled to fit into the city of Edmonton. It’s nothing like the bustling, loud cities of Boston and Los Angeles. Sitting down with Kristina Rutherford for SportsNet, he said:
‘It was tough, coming from L.A. … You’re coming to a place where it’s a lot more small town.’
From this, it’s not hard to imagine that that he’d waive his no move cause for the right city.
In trading Lucic for an alternative, lead weight contract with either less term or less money, the Edmonton Oilers have a lot to gain. Frank Seravelli of TSN recently went on the radio to say:
“My understanding, and the reason that Milan Lucic is on our (TSN top trade) list is because from my understanding they’re trying and talking to teams about potentially taking another contract back even if that means sweetening the pot with a pick or some other roster player in order to make it happen.”
His concerns for the potential deal lay in the sheer amount of time left on Lucic’s contract. It will be unappealing to a great many teams, but in offering a pick as well as Lucic it may make acquiring him less of a downgrade, or even offering to retain salery.
As for offering a roster player, the Oilers really cannot afford to lose any half decent pieces. They’re struggling for talent to play alongside their centre depth (when Nugent-Hopkins is healthy) and the situation is just as bleak in defense and in net, at least until Cam Talbot picks himself back up and improves on his .908 save percentage.
Unless the roster player attached to Lucic is another poor contract bogging the Oilers down, then they should work to leverage later picks to relieve themselves of Lucic’s contract. If they’re going to move Lucic, it has to be with a pick and not a roster player of the calibre any smart team would want in return for taking on Lucic’s contract. Bakersfield can’t risk losing more prospects; they’re struggling enough as it is.
There are a number of options, of course, if the Oilers choose to keep Lucic with the team, including reduced ice time and a fourth line demotion, but it doesn’t solve the problem of having so much money wrapped up in the bottom six forwards, spearheaded by Lucic’s $6 million.
Lucic is just one point on a long list of problems (looking at you, Klefbom trade rumours). And of course, trading him relies on Chiarelli making a competent decision for once,and the Head Coach seems pretty attached to Lucic. But, every journey starts with a single step— this may be the first one in the Oilers becoming a competitive team again. Unloading big, useless contracts is a good place to start.
So, what’s your ideal, realistic Lucic trade situation?
Feature image credit: TSN