The Oilers and Flames each decided to take on the other’s salary cap issue on Friday, with Milan Lucic moving to Calgary for James Neal. The Oilers will also retain 12.5% of Lucic’s salary, while Calgary will receive a conditional third-round pick in next year’s draft. Although Neal’s contract is anything but desirable, this trade has to be considered a win for new Oilers’ GM Ken Holland. It seemed as though the Oilers were going to get stuck with Lucic’s salary, or at least be forced to add a significant sweetener (ie. Jesse Puljujarvi) to move it somewhere. Not only that, but the Oilers also end up with the player who seems more likely to turn things around, at least offensively. If you're an Oilers' fan, it probably feels nice to think your team might have won a trade.
For more on the trade from a fantasy perspective, you can check out the fantasy take. I realize that neither player will be a hot commodity in leagues over the coming season, but this was an interesting one to write anyway. Both players are now 31 and have seen better days. However, it will be interesting to see if the trade sparks either player.
It’s amazing how little the Oilers have to show after years of high first-round picks, although the real problem has been the lack of success after the first round. Thinking about this some more, I have no idea how Neal ends up outside of the Oilers’ top 6 – and he may even end up on the top line (is Zack Kassian really a first liner?) And if Neal does end up outside of the top 6, his fantasy value is dead in the water. Neal’s value could be helped big time with this trade, and he might be a player of interest in more than just the 20-team, 35-player megaleagues.
Lucic will have a tougher time climbing the ranks in Calgary, with their first and second lines already fairly set. I t