Lucic Trade Possibilities

Ah, June… it’s a fun time of year, isn’t it? The playoffs are over, and the draft is over a week away still. There’s nothing for us crazy hockey fans to do but speculate about trade rumours!

The latest big rumour out of Edmonton is the possibility of Milan Lucic being traded. I honestly don’t think it will happen because of Chiarelli’s belief in Lucic. The only way that it does happen is if Lucic decides that he wants out of Edmonton for personal reasons.

Regardless of whether or not the rumour has merit, it’s still fun to speculate over where he might end up.

Here’s the current 23-man roster based on the current contracts that exist and the values of the qualifying offers that will be extended to the RFAs that I expect to re-sign:

Nuge ($6M) McDavid ($12.5M) Rattie ($0.8M)
LW Draisaitl ($8.5M) Puljujarvi ($0.925M)
Lucic ($6M) Strome ($3M) Aberg ($0.65M)
Caggiula ($0.874M) Khaira ($0.675M) Kassian ($1.95M)

Nurse ($0.874M) Larsson ($4.167M)
Klefbom ($4.167M) Russell ($4M)
Sekera ($5.5M) Benning ($0.874M)
Gryba ($0.9M) Bear ($0.925M)

Talbot ($4.16M)
Koskinen ($2.5M)

Total Cap Hit = $69.941 million
Buyouts: Pouliot – $1.33 million

Total: $71.271 million
Space with $78 million cap: $6.729 million
Space with $82 million cap: $11.729 million
Space with $80 million cap: $8.729 million

It is an unconfirmed number, but it has been reported that $80 million is the likely cap number for next season. That is the cap number that I will use for this analysis. If you add Lucic’s departing $6 million cap hit to the $8.729 million in cap space projected above, then you have $14.729 million to allocate towards the winger acquired for Lucic, an UFA 2LW, and a 13th forward.

A 13th forward will cost at least the league minimum of $650k. Subtract the minimum from the $14.729 million figure, and you have $14.079 million left to spend on middle six wingers.

In my article on UFAs that the Oilers could target, I suggested Ilya Kovalchuk and James van Riemsdyk would be the best two possible options from a pure hockey perspective. Kovalchuk is reportedly seeking approximately $6.25 million, and I’m anticipating that van Riemsdyk will get $7 million per season for his deal. van Riemsdyk is the more expensive of the two (and frankly, he is the more desirable of the two). Signing JVR would leave $7.079 million available to take on salary in a Lucic deal. That’s the maximum range based on what currently exists on the roster. However, there are a couple of ways that Chiarelli could create more space.

The first way would be trading Zack Kassian and replacing him with a winger making the league minimum. That would create $1.3 million in cap space, bringing the new range of available cap space to spend on a player acquired for Lucic and an UFA 2LW to $15.379 million.

The other way that more space could be created would be to replace Gryba and Bear at the 7th and 8th defence spots. Replacing them with players making the league minimum would create $0.525 million, which would bring the new total cap space available to $15.904 million.

If Chiarelli signed van Riemsdyk to a $7 million deal, then there would be $8.904 million left over to take on salary in the Lucic trade.

That figure is an absolute maximum. Let’s be real here… that figure is based on finding 4 NHL calibre players at the league minimum in addition to Pontus Aberg and Jujhar Khaira (who isn’t very far above the minimum). A 23-man roster with 6 players making $675k or less isn’t realistic.

An effective 13th forward that could challenge Caggiula for that 4LW spot would cost approximately $1 million. That change brings the maximum realistic cap space available to $15.554 million.

A suitable replacement for Kassian on the 4th line would also cost approximately $1 million. Making that change brings the new total down to $15.204 million.

Gryba and Bear could realistically be replaced effectively for approximately $1.5 million combined at the very least. That would change the maximum realistic cap space available to $15.004 million.

I expect the value of Darnell Nurse’s new contract to be between $2.5 million and $4.5 million. Nurse signing a $2.5 million bridge deal would bring the maximum realistic cap space available down to $13.378 million; and signing him to a long-term deal at $4.5 million would bring it down to $11.378 million.

If van Riemsdyk is the player that Chairelli would want to sign, then the range of salary that could be taken on in a Lucic deal realistically is $4.378 million to $6.378 million. Forwards with bad contracts that fall within that range include David Backes, Matt Moulson, Troy Brouwer, Frans Nielsen, Dustin Brown, Andrew Shaw, Andrew Ladd, Patrik Berglund, Alex Killorn, Loui Eriksson, and Matthieu Perrault.

Backes is no different than Lucic in my eyes from a hockey perspective, but his contract is 2 years shorter than Lucic’s. Lucic has his NMC modified with 2 years left in his deal, so he could be moved easier in that amount of time. Based on that, I see little benefit in trading for Backes. Moulson only has 1 year left, so that won’t happen. Brouwer only has 2 years left, so that likely won’t happen either. Nielsen can play centre… given Detroit’s lack of depth at centre, I doubt they would have an appetite to move him for a winger like Lucic. Brown just scored 61 points this past season, so suddenly his contract doesn’t look so bad. Ladd is older than Lucic and they have the same term remaining, so I would stay away from that deal. Killorn has a NTC and is in a pretty good situation in TB, so I don’t see him waiving to come here. Eriksson has experienced a worse decline than Lucic has, having scored 24 and 23 points in the last two seasons. He’s also two years older than Lucic. I think that Winnipeg likes Perrault; I just think he is over-paid. I don’t think he will be traded either.

That leaves Shaw and Berglund as the most desirable trade targets in this range. The Journal’s Jim Matheson has suggested the Shaw deal already, and I think it would be a good move for both teams because Montreal needs size and scoring in a bad way. Shaw would fit nicely in a 3rd line role here.

Berglund’s contract isn’t all that horrid. He has 4 years left at $3.85 million. He is just injured far too often. St. Louis is looking to spend this summer reportedly, and Lucic might help St. Louis compete with a big team like Winnipeg in the Central division. Berglund can play centre too, so that would be a nice addition for us. I feel like the Shaw deal is more likely than the Berglund deal though.

Shaw’s contract is $3.9 million, and Berglund’s is $3.85 million. They’re basically the same value. I will use Shaw’s contract here since it is slightly more expensive. The maximum cap space available to sign Nurse and an UFA 2LW with after a Lucic for Shaw trade would be $11.104 million. Subtract JVR’s $7 million from that, and you’d have $4.104 million left to sign Nurse with, which is achievable.

If Chiarelli were to sign Vanek or Grabner for $3 million instead of JVR, then the range of salary that could be taken on in a Lucic trade would increase to $8.378 million to $10.378 million. In that case, you could add Corey Perry, Zach Parise, Bobby Ryan, and Phil Kessel to the list.

Perry had what was considered to be an awful year last year, and he still put up 49 points. I’m not sure that Anaheim’s desire to move on from him is all that high. Perry would ultimately have to agree to a trade here as well. I don’t see that happening. Parise carries a $7.54 million cap hit until he’s 40… even if Paul Fenton decided that he wanted to move Parise and he were to waive his NMC to come here, I wouldn’t do that. Lucic can at least stay healthy, which is more than Bobby Ryan can say in recent years.

TSN 1260’s Tyler Yaremchuk speculated that a Lucic for Kessel deal might be a possibility. He suggested that a third team might have to be involved to eat some of Lucic’s salary. That would be awesome, but highly unlikely. I personally think that the Kessel situation in Pittsburgh is being overblown, so I don’t see him being moved.

After all of that, here is what I think the best possible situation would look like if a Lucic deal were to happen:

Nuge ($6M) McDavid ($12.5M) Rattie ($0.8M)
van Riemsdyk ($7M) Draisaitl ($8.5M) Puljujarvi ($0.925M)
Shaw ($3.9M) Strome ($3M) Aberg ($0.65M)
McLeod ($1M) Khaira ($0.675M) Wingels ($1M)
Caggiula (0.874M)

Nurse ($4M) Larsson ($4.167M)
Klefbom ($4.167M) Russell ($4M)
Sekera ($5.5M) Benning ($0.874M)
Lowe ($0.675M) Postma ($0.8M)

Talbot ($4.16M)
Koskinen ($2.5M)

Total Cap Hit = $77.667 million
Buyouts: Pouliot – $1.33 million

Total: $78.997 million
Space with $80 million cap: $1.003 million

Lucic and a 2nd round pick for Shaw seems like a massive over-payment on our end. It would be yet another deal where Chiarelli trades the more talented player for the less talented player. Considering that Lucic was signed to replace Hall at LW, I can see billboards with #FireChiarelli on them appearing in short order.

In terms of how it would affect the roster, it would essentially be Lucic, Kassian and a 2nd round pick for Shaw, van Riemsdyk, and a 4th line RW to replace Kassian. That’s a trade you make all day long. I’d even give Montreal another pick to be able to do that.

On the surface, it would look like Chiarelli would “lose” the trade… but in reality, Lucic and a 2nd for Shaw would allow Chiarelli to make more moves that would actually make the team better than if Lucic were still around.

That would be a significant upgrade in skill on the left side compared to the group of Lucic, Maroon, Caggiula, and Cammalleri from last year. This roster looks even better than the one I suggested that the Oilers should go into next season with last week!

Like I said, I honestly don’t think a Lucic trade will end up happening because of Chiarelli’s belief in him and because of the term he has left. However, if Lucic wants to be moved as has been speculated, then I would certainly encourage Chiarelli to get a deal done with Montreal or St. Louis!

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