Could The Canadiens Land Lucic? Should They Even Try?
The Montreal Canadiens are well into a off season of change from a management stand point and sooner or later the players will begin to move as well. The speculation on who may be leaving has been going on since about mid December 2017 and has mostly centered around Max Pacioretty, Alex Galchenyuk, and one or two of Karl Alzner, Jordie Benn, and David Schlemko.
But what’s completely unknown is who they will be bringing in.
We all are hoping for Blue Chip Center and Left Defense prospects but the rumors circulating right now are pointing north west to Edmonton and the under achieving LW Milan Lucic.
Lucic turned 30 this past Thursday and comes with a hefty $6 million dollar cap hit with 5 more years remaining (including this upcoming season). At this point you would want Lucic to be a 25G/25A player, but 20/20 is more realistic.
Is this a player that can improve the Montreal Canadiens in their current form? And what would the cost be?
I’m pretty sure I just felt most of your hockey spirits shudder at the thought of adding the monster winger to the Habs at that cost, but I’m going to Devil’s Advocate this one just for the hell of it.
The Canadiens LW currently looks like this: Pacioretty, Galchenyuk, Byron, Deslauriers. Clearly Lucic would not be utilized properly on the 4th line but that would be where he would slot in currently. So this is going to need to get creative to work, not only from a roster stand point but also trade stand point.
Rumors are hot and heavy that one of Pacioretty or Galchenyuk are on the way out and I’m leaning to believe it will be a leadership shift this offseason and Patch will be moved. This allows Galchenyuk to move up to top line LW and thus opening a spot for Lucic on the 2nd line LW.
Are we better off with Lucic on the 2nd line? Not entirely sure but should the Canadiens move Pacioretty and draft Brady Tkachuk then it wouldn’t be out of question to see Tkachuk and Lucic moving in and out of the 2nd line LW position with a chance Brady could see bottom line C work as well.
That could set up for the possible trade with the Oilers to rid themselves of Lucic and his $6 million cap hit.
Looking at the Oilers prospect pool is depressing…. There isn’t much there you would want to take for anything of value outside of Yamamoto and his 5'8", 159 lbs frame is surely a worry. I don't think the Oilers would want to move him anyways as he's all they currently have in the farm that is exciting (or valuable).
The player I would covet the most is Leon Draisaitl and I wouldn’t bet on the Oilers putting him on the block unless they wanted a shot at Jack Hughes next season.
So what works here?
One thing is for sure, if the Habs take on Lucic then the Oilers retain a MINIMUM of $2 million per season, but preferably $2.5 million. A 30 year old Lucic at $3.5-4 million for 5 years with a young team isn’t something I’m against at all. I know Lucic has had some trouble in the past with nut shots and cheap shots but we all know that this is a powerful, intimidating player who makes everyone on the team stand a bit taller on the ice. At that cost he could occupy a 3rd line role and not be terribly overpaid.
If Edmonton is working hard to shed that salary with the hopes of, lets say, hitting John Carlson with a massive payday then they could be motivated to make a deal happen. Perhaps even just ensuring there is enough space to chase any big name UFA like Tavares, Karlsson, etc could be the goal of Chiarelli and Co.
The question I keep asking myself is would Edmonton part with their 10th overall pick in this upcoming draft to shed Lucic? If, IF, they were willing to do that you could probably bet there would be ZERO salary/cap retained by Edmonton on the Lucic deal which could make some Canadiens fans heads explode with anger and frustration. But would adding 10th overall keep said heads in tact?
10th overall means drafting one of Kotkaniemi, Velano, Hayton, or Bouchard. Yeah, your eyebrows should have raised thinking about that.
So how does Montreal make that happen?
The Oilers have $15 million in cap space this upcoming season (if the Cap goes up $5 million) with Darnell Nurse to sign and already having almost $18 million tied up long term in Sekera (yuck), Klefbom, Larsson, and Russell. So Nurse is a must sign for Edmonton and his agent is all but assured close to $4 million for his client after seeing the Oilers sign those other deals. A defenceman must go.
The Canadiens will have around $17 million in cap space (again, with $5 million Cap increase) and only Danault and De La Rose to resign, which should cost around $3.5 million combined.
The Canadiens could offer the Oilers: Pacioretty, Washington’s 18 2nd, and one of Benn or Schlemko. This sheds roughly exactly Lucic’s salary and gives Edmonton a true first line LW with speed to play with McDavid and affordable depth on D.
Montreal should ask for Edmonton’s 18 1st round pick, Lucic, and O Klefbom ($4.1 million cap for 5 more seasons). This gives the Canadiens roughly $4 million more cap hit then they have currently and after signing Danault and DLR should leave them close to $10 million in space. The Canadiens get a skilled LD who admittedly is struggling with consistency, but can play the PP on the LD and could be a solid partner for S Weber.
This allows Montreal to ease in Mete on 2nd pair with Petry, and Juulsen plays with Alzner with Reilly as the 7th D to sub in and out as needed. The Habs draft a LW for immediate 2nd/3rd line duty in Tkachuk who can move up and down the middle lines with Lucic as a guide. The Habs then draft one of the top C’s available in the draft at 10th overall and almost everyone could get on board with that.
Take the remaining $10 million and offer it all to Tavares and if he signs elsewhere then they can try to snag Stastny. Worst case scenario, the Habs go in with Drouin, Danault, DLR, and Evans at C and draft high again next year when there are quite a few blue chip C’s available at the top of the draft. Not ideal, but it could happen.
I will say I am not advocating for this type of deal, and I know for certain there will be Oilers (and Habs) fans in our comments telling us all how awesome and smart and handsome I am but this deal wouldn’t upset me as the Habs get rewarded with a top prospect for taking on some overpaid contracts and that would be the right way to use that cap space currently.
Maybe my trade idea is reasonable, maybe I’m playing NHL 18 on my PS4 Pro, either way it was a interesting idea to write about.
Go Habs Go!