A Definitive Solution to the Oilers’ Milan Lucic Situation

There’s a solution to the Milan Lucic issue that not nearly enough people are talking about and it’s time to change that.

Now, I know what you may be thinking. Yet another article from yet another wretched internet blogger trying to peddle his ideas as the best thing since sliced bread and, you know what, you’re completely right! Sliced bread isn’t actually all that impressive; it was just some guy’s slightly deviant thought that opened the door for smaller, less impressive sandwiches. Much like the disappointingly minor advancement that is sliced bread, my idea for how to solve the Lucic situation is also just one lateral thought whose concept is already in use in other avenues, but has yet to be applied to our particular situation.

The concept I’m referring to is that of the ‘dual-cap retention’ trade and it has been executed as recently as this season. In my experiences discussing methods to be free from Lucic’s contract, a general understanding among the fanbases of the NHL has been that teams aren’t allowed to retain over 50% of the total cap hit of a contract. However, this actually isn’t completely true. Allow me to draw your attention to Carl Hagelin and the two trades involving him from earlier in the season.


The Concept

On November 14th, Hagelin was traded to the LA Kings in exchange for Tanner Pearson. As a part of the deal, 0.25mil was retained by Pittsburgh in an effort to equal out the cap hits being exchanged. This made Hagelin’s effective initial cap hit for the Kings only 3.75mil as opposed to the 4mil it had been with the Penguins (this will be relevant in a moment).

Hagelin would once again be traded, this time to the Capitals, on February 21st. In this subsequent trade, LA would now retain a total of 50% of Hagelin’s cap hit they acquired from Pittsburgh (1.875mil) in order to facilitate the trade to the cap-strapped Capitals. This brings the total amount of his contract being retained by other teams to 2.125mil- more than 50% of his original 4mil contract!


Application to the Oilers and Lucic

Now if we apply this concept to our Lucic debacle, isn’t there a whole new world of possibilities? First, we need to find an intermediary to facilitate this trade; a team willing to take on dead cap for 4 years for the price of some futures. For the sake of the exercise, let’s pick Ottawa. A team in no rush to spend money, but likely in need of an extra cap hit or two in order to reach the floor.

Next, we’ll need to find a team that has some combination of needs that include the following:

  1. desires toughness for their lineup
  2. has some kind of connection to Lucic (so he waives his NMC)
  3. has the cap space to pay a bottom-6 guy ~2mil for 4 years

I can think of a few that meet at least 2 of those criteria but one of them fulfills all of these: the Canucks. I’ve read on a number of occasions that they’re interested in adding some beef to their forward corps, they’re Lucic’s hometown team that he’s recently expressed interest in playing for at some point in the future and has already shown no issue with committing term to bottom-6 guys (see: Roussel and Beagle).


The Solution

Now that we have the parameters set out, let’s plug them into an equation of sorts:

Edmonton sends Lucic (w/ 1.5mil retained) and ____ to Ottawa for future considerations
Ottawa sends Lucic (w/ 2.25mil retained) to Vancouver for a late pick

To complete the equation, we need to answer a few questions: What do those blank spots have to be in order to facilitate this trade? How much is 4.5mil worth to the Oilers? How much does 2.25mil for 4 years cost for the Senators? Since there isn’t a direct comparable for this situation, the best we can do is guess. I’d be willing to start the offer at Ethan Bear and a 2020 3rd and maybe work our way up from there. I’d love to read what you think in the comments!

Conclusion

I’ll be the first to admit that there might be a flaw that I’m not seeing in this. The inherent nature of people is that we’re often unable to see the flaws in ourselves or our ideas without external scrutiny. Some vague CBA ruling where this method only works on expiring contracts could very well exist and I just haven’t found it. What I do know is that I haven’t seen nearly enough people discussing this possibility and I hope to change that- if even just a little.

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