Prior to the hiring of Ken Holland as GM, the Oilers had been considering the possibility of buying out winger Milan Lucic’s contract this summer, reports Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman in his latest 31 Thoughts column. On the surface, this seems like a reasonable idea but given the front-loaded, bonus-laden structure of the contract, many had viewed his deal as virtually buyout-proof. Courtesy of CapFriendly, here is how the breakdown of a buyout would go:
Considering that Lucic carries a $6MM cap hit, the savings would be minimal. While they could certainly use the $2.375MM in extra space for next season, the fact that they wouldn’t save enough cap room in two of the next three years to roster someone making the league minimum makes going that route a short-term solution at best.
In an ideal world, finding a suitable trade for Lucic would be the best case scenario, as long as the incentive they provide to take on the contract isn’t too steep. Friedman notes that they tried to do so last summer but that their price was unrealistic. Considering that his output dipped even more this past season (6-14-20 in 79 games), Holland’s tune may be a bit different now compared to Peter Chiarelli a year ago.
While it’s true that sending Lucic to the AHL would yield $1.075MM in cap savings (it would go up by $50K in 2021-22), his no-move clause makes that a challenge as he could very easily invoke that to block a demotion. Assuming he’s unwilling to go to the minors, that makes a trade or a buyout the only options to remove him from the roster and while a buyout would give them a bit more breathing room for 2019-20, it would come at a pretty significant cost after that. As a result, expect to hear Lucic bandied about in trade discussion in the weeks to come.