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Can the Oilers facilitate a trade with Milan Lucic and not get eaten alive in the process?

Edmonton Oilers v Vancouver Canucks Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images

Rumblings of a possible deal involving Milan Lucic have emerged over the last week. The 30 year old power forward is coming off a disappointing season that saw him score just 34 points. He’s got five more years on his deal with a cap hit of six million each year. Most importantly, he’s got that no-movement clause that controls his own destiny.

The Oilers are caught between a rock and a hard place with this player. There’s a chance that Lucic could recover from last season’s dismal performance. If they keep him for one more year and he doesn’t rebound, his value will tumble significantly more than it already has. If they move him, there’s also a significant chance that they’ll be forced to take a player that has a (near) equally undesirable cap hit in the process.

Is there a way for the Oilers to get out from under this contract?

I mean, there’d be lots of teams that would roll the dice on Milan Lucic; but again, you literally would have to give him away in some respects to make a really favorable deal

-Bob McKenzie (TSN 1260) Source

If the Oilers could find a trade partner who would be willing to absorb all of Milan Lucic’s cap hit for a minimal return (and Lucic agrees to waive his NMC to go), the Oilers would seriously have to look at this option. Everyone points to Arizona as a cap floor team who has a wad of cap space, and it’s no different this year. With 20+ million in free space in 2018-19, it’d be a perfect situation should both Lucic (and the Coyotes) express mutual interest. The Hurricanes find themselves in a similar situation as the Coyotes, albeit with a bit more cap.

THE UGLY

If the Oilers could find a trade partner to absorb all of Lucic’s cap hit (which is a tall ask) and Lucic agrees to be moved, you can be certain that the return is going to be less than optimal. The Oilers would likely do a little bit better with one of the teams with a tonne of available cap space who could absorb all of Lucic’s cap hit. Ideally, the Oilers could trade Lucic for a draft pick (think sixth, or seventh rounder) in this scenario. A team that’s a bit closer to the cap will likely send a bad contract back to the Oilers. It would free them of Lucic’s cap hit, but they would then have the possibility of an eight million dollar player for a few years or more.

If Lucic is ready to move on, Peter Chiarelli’s got his work cut out. Trading a player that has 30 million on the cap over the next five years is no doubt a hairy proposition. The reward? Chiarelli’s got an opportunity to free up significant cap space on a club that has little to none in the upcoming season. He accomplishes this? It’d be a huge win. It doesn’t erase the events that occurred two years ago that got the club into this situation, but it’d free up some much needed space on a team that badly needs it.