It is easy to see how the Edmonton Oilers could put forward Milan Lucic’s $6 million cap hit to better use. There were strong indications that Lucic’s camp asked for a trade last season, but there were no takers. And no one can blame them. As the Oilers are now focused of finding a good GM to take the reigns, the next general manager might indeed enjoy having more cap space to make some moves over the summer.
Team insider Jonathan Willis of The Athletic is taking a look at what the Oilers should do over the summer during free agency, and of course, the idea of buying out Lucic’s deal had to be mentioned. However, Willis believes Edmonton might be able to trade Lucic a day after the opening of free agency season with one specific plan. After all, Edmonton can’t afford to have that kind of dead cap space in its books for the next decade…
“Lucic’s deal is the worst, with a $6-million cap hit for four years after this one. Nevertheless, he still has some value, and his play has improved under Ken Hitchcock.
Over the last 20 games, Lucic has four goals, six points, and the second-best Corsi number among Oilers forwards. These are small gains, to be sure, but enough to suggest he might be able to hold his own as a physical bottom-six forward – at least for the time being.
Even so, barring further growth, it probably makes sense to buy him out this summer if a trade can’t be made (despite the structure of his contract making a buy out a tough pill to swallow). A carefully timed trade might be possible, because if Lucic is dealt on July 2, he will be owed just $16-million in real dollars over the final four years of his contract. Is there a budget-conscious team out there with a contract high in real dollars but lower in cap hit that’s willing to make a deal?”
We can think of a few teams willing to make a deal to boost their salary floor, however, let’s not forget that Lucic is armed with a no-movement clause. If it becomes impossible to move him past July 1st, then a buyout remains possible.
The Oilers could decide to be patient and get creative with the latest NHL expansion to package Lucic to Seattle along with a more desirable asset. There is still some time before the new Oilers GM pulls this move, however, while we all wonder who will step in the front office, we also wonder what will happen to Lucic after this season…