Despite the NHL draft and Free agency day still quite a bit away, rumours are heating up all across the league. One of the biggest names being floated around is Milan Lucic of the Edmonton Oilers.
Lucic, 31, is coming off a career worst season with the Edmonton Oilers. He sported only 6 goals and 14 assists in 79 games. Lucic signed a big 7 year, $42 million contract with the Oilers back in July 2016. Lucic’s contract hasn’t helped the Edmonton Oilers’ cap issues.
So I pose the question, would a fresh start be good for Milan Lucic?
In recent weeks, rumours have been planted about a potential swap. It appears that the Vancouver Canucks have been talking to the Edmonton Oilers about a one for one trade. The rumoured trade is:
To Edmonton Oilers:
Loui Eriksson (3 yr/$6 million AAV)
To Vancouver Canucks:
Milan Lucic (4 yr/ 6 Million AAV)
Now I know what many may be thinking, why do this? Well, here are couple of reasons.
Cap Relief for both teams
As many know by now, the Oilers cap situation is not in a good spot. At the moment, the Oilers have 9 million in cap space, but they have quite a few pending RFAs.
I do understand that this does only buy the Oilers an extra year of cap space, but that one year can make a huge difference. If they can move Lucic, they’ll have 6 million in additional cap space in time for July 1, 2022. Come July 1, 2022, there will be several elite players hitting the free agent market. P.K. Subban, Claude Giroux, Phil Kessel, Patrice Bergeron, Johnny Gaudreau, Tomas Hertl, Colton Parayko, Nick Leddy, Rasmus Ristolainen and Evgeni Malkin will become free agents. So, having that 6 million in space will be very handy for Ken Holland.
Also keep in mind, I’m sure both Ken Holland and Jim Benning both may consider retaining salary for both players, meaning essentially they would potentially absorb up to 50% of the current contract in order to remove the players from their rosters.
A Change Of Scenery Can Benefit Both Players
Sometimes a change of environment can help a players mindset. If a player is closer to home, it could impact their play. Essentially, it is a reset for both Eriksson and Lucic. Eriksson has been vocal in the past about his troubles with Canucks head coach, Travis Green. Stating in an interview with Hockeysverige (translated by TSN), Eriksson states: I and the coach do not get together a hundred [percent] and it is difficult when I do not get the same trust that I received from all the other coaches I had during my career. Of course it is tough on that front.
In short, it seems as if GM Jim Benning, may have to ship the 33 year old Swede out of British Columbia. I’m sure many people are wondering, why Edmonton? New Oilers head coach Dave Tippett has had Eriksson as a player before (2000s with the Dallas Stars). Under Tippett, Eriksson was not exactly a superstar, but did have a 36 goal campaign in Dallas in Tippett’s final season as coach. Perhaps, a reunion for Tippett and Eriksson could help rejuvenate Eriksson’s offensive production.
On the other hand, Lucic had expressed interest in going to Vancouver back in 2016, but chose Edmonton instead. Should Lucic move back home to British Columbia, he could serve as protection for the younger players such as Elias Pettersson, Brock Boeser and Quinn Hughes. A similar example of this is the role that Matt Martin had when he was a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Martin provided protection for Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner and William Nylander during his stint in Toronto.
Many Canucks fans might not be overjoyed with the thought of Lucic coming to Vancouver and playing bottom six minutes. Keep in mind that Lucic still has some upside and could be an asset. He’ll be entering into a new system and perhaps he’ll mesh well with Travis Green. Plus, Benning might be able to pry a draft pick or another piece to even out the deal.
What Will Happen?
In short, will this deal happen? Possibly. Will it be just a one for one deal? We don’t know. With the offseason not that far away and teams trying to get out of cap trouble, we could see a trade come very soon. Maybe, it’ll come on draft night.
stats from hockey-reference.com