After a disappointing season a year ago, Edmonton Oilers’ fans have taken their anger on high-priced winger Milan Lucic. After all, the 6-foot-3, 234-pound bruising winger was signed not only to protect their elite players like Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, but also to produce goals on the wing. That’s why the team signed him to a seven-year, $42MM deal back in 2016.
While Lucic showed the deal was a promising one after the first season when he tallied 23 goals and 50 points, he made the contract look like a disaster after last season when he managed just 10 goals and 34 points. Suddenly with five years remaining at $6MM AAV, and Lucic looking slower than he ever has, rumors have been flying about how Edmonton must get out of the deal which is suddenly weighing down the Oilers team and salary cap.
However, David Staples of the Edmonton Journal confirms rumors that Edmonton Oilers have no intention of moving him this offseason. The key problem is that no trade would be likely as few teams would be willing to take on that contract and if they did, it might cost Edmonton even more to dump it. However, Staples adds that what the Oilers need to do is have him settle into a lesser role with lesser expectations and allow him to produce a 35 to 40-point season and along with his defensive abilities as well as his physicality, teams will eventually call on him.
- With the Calgary Flames having their development camp this weekend, Darren Haynes of the Canadian Press reports that the standout prospect so far has been 2017 first-round pick Jusso Valimaki. The 16th overall pick has been a force around the other prospects and Haynes speculates the 6-foot-2, 204-pound defenseman might make things interesting in September for the Flames. Valamaki posted 14 goals and 45 points in 44 games last year for Tri-City of the WHL, but showed his mettle in the playoffs when he put up four goals and 17 points in just 12 games.
- Eric Stephens of The Athletic (subscription required) writes a profile on the Anaheim Ducks prospect Sam Steel, who has a legitimate chance to crack the Ducks’ opening day lineup this year, especially with recent question marks surrounding the availability of veteran Ryan Kesler. Steel, who won the WHL Player of the Year award after the 2016-17 season when he scored 50 goals and 131 points, failed to duplicate his success last year when he returned to the Regina Pats last season. Regardless, the 20-year-old has been focusing this summer on getting more explosion on his first step. Steel, whose junior career is now over, will either be with the San Diego Gulls of the AHL or he will be a rookie in the NHL.