Photo Credit: Matthew Henderson

Monday Mailbag: Milan Lucic Edition

I think it would depend on who else is coming back. If the offer is Lucic and Puljujarvi for Eriksson and Virtanen straight up, the Canucks would be wise to think twice. I’m not convinced they’re getting the better end of the deal in  terms of either player coming back. I was really high on Jesse Puljujarvi as a prospect, and I’m not convinced Virtanen has another gear; but at some point Puljujarvi has to actually do something to convince people he’s more than just a failed prospect. The NHL is very much a “what have you done for me lately?” league and Jake Virtanen had 17 goals last year while Puljujarvi continued to struggle for a third straight year.

Puljujarvi’s upside could very well make the deal worth the risk, but if I’m taking Lucic back too I’d be looking for Edmonton to add.

There are some issues I can see here for the Oilers. At some point, taking back Chris Tanev and Ben Hutton undoes the point of trading Milan Lucic in the first place, which is to get cap relief. I’m also not sure adding Tanev and Hutton is enough to justify the Oilers sending back a top 10 pick. I could realistically see any and all of these pieces getting moved in a deal or deals involving both teams, but I’m not sure this specific proposal quite fits together.

I’ll defer to my superior, Ryan Biech, on this one. Apparently, the NMC remains in effect after the trade, but could be waived again for the expansion draft. I would imagine this would be something the Canucks would take into consideration before making a deal, and I would hope that any Lucic deal would only occur if he agrees to waive the NMC for the expansion draft.

A lot of people have mentioned Jesse Puljujarvi, and he would certainly make the deal worthwhile for the Canucks. The issue, obviously, is whether or not the Oilers would do something like that, and I’m skeptical they’d be willing to part with a top prospect just to get rid of Lucic, even if the shine has come off Puljujarvi in recent years. Ultimately, I think the Oilers would have to give up an asset that has at least a decent chance of playing meaningful games in the NHL for the deal to be worth it. Maybe a second round pick or someone like Tyler Benson would get the deal done. The issue is, sweeteners in these types of deals tend to be pretty insignificant pieces. I’d imagine if the Canucks have interest in Lucic, that has more to do with what they see in him as a player than any additional pieces that might be coming back the other way.

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Well, he is a tougher, meaner, more physical presence than Eriksson and the Canucks could use that in their lineup, even if Lucic isn’t exactly the most ideal vessel for those attributes. He’s also only a couple seasons removed from a 50-point season and could maybe regain some of his former glory in his hometown? I’m grasping at straws here but I’m not seeing a lot of positives, either. If they can pry a decent asset out of Edmonton, then it’s justifiable, I suppose, but I’m not jazzed about the possibility of an Eriksson-Lucic swap, either.

Philip Broberg is really the only guy who could realistically be picked at 10 that I would think twice about them selecting. I’ll be a little disappointed if they pass on the forwards that will be available there to draft Victor Soderstrom, but not enough to get worked up about. The third tier of players available in this year’s draft consists of probably 10-12 players and every scout is going to rank them differently.

Jake Gardiner for sure. He’s younger, provides more offense, and has less of a chance of breaking down over the course of his contract. Myers scares me a lot. He’s already declining, and he’s likely to command significant money and term. I think at the end of the day my preference would be for them not to sign either player, but at least Gardiner will probably remain a positive value asset throughout his contract. I can;t say the same for Myers.

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I’ll just take a wild guess and say Matthew Boldy, if he’s available. He’s got a high floor, with enough upside to justify taking him in the top ten, and the Canucks could use help on the wing. I don’t think there’s a defenseman that will be available there that’s good enough to justify drafting in that spot, and the Canucks do seem to have a history of looking to the U.S. when it comes to forward prospects. If he’s there when the Canucks pick, I don’t think they’ll pass him up.

Mike Gillis?

This is such a tough question because I really have a lot of respect for Alex Edler and everything he’s done for the Canucks organization, but I think in the end it comes down to what his camp is asking for. I’m not sure they can justify giving him three years, and he has every right to be looking for that. Unfortunately, the front office is now in a pretty sticky situation and could risk losing yet another premium asset for nothing. I think it would be easier to stomach if they had got out in front of the situation by exploring a trade and asking him to waive last off-season. Then, at least, they could have said they did everything in their power to make the best of a bad situation. Instead, there’s a decent chance their overemphasis on short-term wins over long-term success could come back to bite them again.

  • Here’s how I frame a Lucic trade: Would you want Kesler back? He’s overpaid, can’t skate, has a burdensome NMC, and doesn’t want to be here. No? Then why acquire Lucic because he’s overpaid, can’t skate, has a burdensome NMC, and passed up a chance to play here for Edmonton?

    Lucic’s 50 point season is inflated by PP time that he can’t even earn anymore. Since they’ve signed their contracts, Eriksson has scored 60 EV points in 196 games (0.31 PPG). Lucic has 68 EV points in 243 games (0.28 PPG).

    • Goon

      I don’t think this is a fair comparison. Kesler *literally cannot play anymore* because he has the hips of an 80 year old, and he’s going to miss all of next season (and his career is potentially over).

      Lucic isn’t very good, but he can still play hockey. And this question isn’t about acquiring Lucic in a vacuum, it’s about swapping one overpaid bottom-six player for another overpaid bottom-six player.

      All that being said, it only makes sense to swap Lucic for Eriksson if there’s a solid sweetener included. Best case scenario Lucic bounces back a bit and you end up with a serviceable middle-six forward for one year longer than the Eriksson deal. Worst-case scenario you end up with a guy who is barely replacement-level for one year longer than the Eriksson deal.

      • I’m not sure what kind of sweetener people expect to get out of Holland. He’s the guy that managed to get a 1st, 2nd, and 3rd round pick for Tatar in 2018 and he got Chayka to pay him a 2nd rounder and upgrade his 1st rounder by 4 spots for Datsyuk’s contract in 2016. (One could only wish that Benning could do the same with Eriksson’s contract.) Holland doesn’t do many trades but when he does them, he usually wins decisively.

    • KearnsScoredOnHimself

      Lucic is poison to this franchise do not acquire him at any cost. Erickson’s contract is actually better as it has one less year on it. And why in the world would Nux help a division rival? Let EDM choke on that contract. Sign Lucic? Lose half the fan base.

    • TD

      I would be happy to give Puljujarvi a second chance. Totally agree on the other two. But then I’m not happy we have Erriksson either I don’t really care if it’s Spooner or Gagner in the minors. Hopefully Benning has learned come July 1.

  • Macksonious

    In response to the criticism of Benning for not trading Edler at the deadline:

    He had a full NTC and didn’t want to waive it. Not convinced that there’s anything management could’ve/should’ve done in order to get him to do so.

    • Well, to be fair, Benning did “convince” Garrison to begrudgingly waive his NTC to make the Tampa trade happen. To paraphase Garrison at the time, he said that management has ways of making you feel unwanted.

      But it’s one thing for Benning to do that when he was just hired and trying to clean house, it’s another thing to play mind games with one of the franchise’s best defencemen ever.

  • North Van Halen

    So if I have this straight, according to media and Benning fan club reports (not JM he’s been pretty fair through this), this off-season, Benning is near certain to add Lucic, Zaitsev, Puljujarvi, Myers, Zucker & almost every other player teams are desperate to off-load or is likely to sign a bloated contract.
    Could it be possible he’s just doing his due diligence on players he thinks they can get for cheap or with other assets to help? Could it be he’s actually trying to ‘weaponize the cap space’?
    Or are we just certain he’s going to add Zaitsev, Lucic & Myers @ 7 years * $7mil, tie up all our cap space, lose all flexibility moving forward?
    Every summer the sport of ‘Villifying Benning for the Thing he Hasn’t Done’ gets more and more ridiculous (remember last off-season Goldy was sure to be lost on waivers or Edler was sure to get a 3 year NMC – seems Benning wasn’t willing to give it was he? ).
    I do think this is Benning’s most challenging off-season and there’s a lot of options with the cap space but I think we just need to see what trades he actually makes and who he signs before we lose our mind (which is also a possibility).

  • Kanuckhotep

    Eriksson for Lucic? Shotgun for Puljujarvi? Who are they kidding? And who wants Spooner? Slow news week for sure. Benning goes near any kind of “deal(s)” like that fans would not be too happy. If those guys can’t cut it playing with McDavid and Draisatl how are they going to cut it playing on the Canucks? Hurry up and let’s watch the draft.

    • Green Bastard

      Meh, the draft is no biggy picking at ten dude with zero extra picks accrued at your own draft party lol. Bring on the Seattle Salmon Spawns already!

      A Lucic for Eriksson wash trade would be much more fun than the draft lol.

  • Mike Bossy

    Man, I always try to be as level-headed as I can be regarding trade rumours by looking at all sides but this Lucic fascination with some people really boggles my mind.
    His particular skillset is something that is obsolete in today’s NHL. I feel that his peak was (unfortunately for us) in 2010-15 and his ridiculous contract is quite frankly, the worst in the league.
    While Loui has been nothing short of a disappointment, he is still a serviceable NHLer (if you don’t base it on his pay) and his contract, while crappy, is actually quite tradable since he has no NMC for the expansion draft and his bonuses take up real money for those cheaper owners out there who just need to get to the cap floor.

    This should be a no-brainer; don’t make the trade.

    • Green Bastard

      Eriksson is even worse bro. He was brought here as a 30 goalscorer to like, score goals. Dude now averages TEN per and couldn’t even cut it with the Sedins.

      Like Bud P, the only thing Loui is servicing is Benning’s jock for paying him 6 million bux a season to be a third/fourth liner who the coach hates.

      At least Looch can throw the body and bring down the hammer to protect Petey, Quinn and our other smurfs lol!

      • Mike Bossy

        Sorry, but we’ll have to disagree with this one. I definitely don’t think Loui is worth anywhere close to his salary, however…he IS a bonafide NHLer who can still keep up with today’s pace. True, he doesn’t fight etc, but that is trending out of here in today’s NHL (whether you like it or not, and for the record, I don’t but I’m being real here). Also, McDavid has been hurt a few times, Lucic didn’t prevent anything.

  • Foximus

    I’m very scared about getting Lucic. After all the reports I think Benning is pursuing this. Let’s just ride out the LE contract and expose him to Seattle. As for the draft I still really like Söderström but I’m starting to lean towards Boldy. I really like Caufield as well. If we go free agent maybe look at Stralman. Otherwise let’s just draft and develop. I will say if we could get Panarin we should go all in. We can dream right…

  • North Van Halen

    Just to show how volatile rankings are Pronman has Broberg 9 and Soderstrom 27. As always, I’m not going to pretend I know enough about the prospects to make judgements but I find it interesting how differently they can be viewed.

    • 51Geezer

      Another view is that of a gentleman named Cameron Kuon at Wingsnation, who has Tomasino at 10 and Soderstrom at 34. I’m betting Bob McKenzie’s predictions will be pretty close.

  • J-Canuck

    All this Lucic stuff is nonsense. There is no way GMJB adds one more year of 6mil with a NMC! Quinn and EP will be up for new contracts which makes a deal like this ridiculous.
    One of the sticking points with Edler probably is a NMC, which he won’t get from any team w an expansion draft looming. Edler has been a solid Dman on a declining team, but if he isn’t being reasonable with term and NMC, then invest his $ into Gardner who is 4yrs younger. I’m having trouble reconciling Ed’s love of Vancouver with his apparent demands.

    • NastyNate

      Can’t agree with the authors take when he equates Edler not signing yet to losing a premium asset for nothing.. First, Edler is not a premium asset.
      Second, he had a NMC granted by a previous management group. He refused to waive it several times, opting to stay in BC. At that point you can’t even say he’s an asset let alone a premium one. Now they are working on a deal and Benning has drawn a line, taking a NMC off the table. That’s more like good management and less like losing a premium asset for nothing.

      • Beer Can Boyd

        Could not agree more. a 33 year old, 30 point defenseman who plays between 50 and 70 games a year is not a premium asset. 2 years 5 mil per, no NTC, take it or leave it. He’s already boned the Canucks at the last 2 trade deadlines, they owe him nothing.

  • liqueur des fenetres

    The window lickers came to agreement in another thread that we’re seeing the real Benning now, that his bad deals were attributable to the instructions he was given to win for the Sedins, and now that they are out of the picture he’s free to do what he really wants.

    As if on cue the ghost of Milan Lucic appears, Benning’s Sedin-era trade target, the one he was willing to trade a first rounder for (Boeser!) at the deadline and then tried to sign as an UFA. Lucic’s signature would have meant no Eriksson-Sedin reunion, but nevermind, Lucic is still allegedly coveted in the post-Sedin world.

    There has also been consensus around the concept of weaponizing cap space, and while the potential Lucic deal is said to involve Loui that’s not a given based on the movement control in the latter’s contract. But what has yet to be addressed so far are the perils of trading within the division, giving a rival cap relief should only help make them better. Or does Benning think he’s smarter than the other guy and a trade would help the Canucks grow at the Oiler’s expense?

    • Killer Marmot

      Wouldn’t it be better to criticize Benning for mistakes he’s actually made, rather than for mistakes he didn’t make or you imagine he will make?

      • liqueur des fenetres

        So just to be clear, in your habitat we’re not supposed to consider trades before they happen or judge them until each guy has played like 5 years on his new team.

        The criticism in my post was directed at the window lickers and not Benning, because he is what he is from my perspective. Lucic joining Vancouver wasn’t an idea floated by me but by different sources in the sports “press” after Lucic conveniently and publicly shared his interest in Vancouver (and no other team). Given that Vancouver finished 2 points ahead of Edmonton this season, and aims to make the playoffs next season ahead of a reinvigorated Edmonton, under what conditions do you think it makes sense to trade with them this off season?

        I don’t recall seeing Lucic play this past season, but I’d consider taking on his contract with a sweetener because he seems like a solid guy who wouldn’t just go through the motions playing in his home town. But then again I wouldn’t be aiming for the playoffs next season either.

          • truthseeker

            Show me. Provide a link proving the first rounder was offered.

            And even if you have proof, you’re still making a strawman argument by associating it with Boeser. A first round pick before it is made is simply a first round pick. Not the player you later got and are now using as hindsight bias. At best you can say he was willing to give up a pick with a roughly 25% chance at being a top 6 player for Lucic in 2015. At that time he was still roughly a 20 goal 50 point guy.
            It’s interesting how proper context and logic changes the implications isn’t it?

          • liqueur des fenetres

            You won’t find proof that he offered Boeser for Lucic as Boeser wasn’t yet on the team. But there is plenty of evidence that Benning was close to a deal with Boston, and got eclipsed at the last moment by LA’s offer of a first rounder (13), a prospect and a back up goalie. It’s open to debate what prospect Benning offered and/or whether a back up goalie was part of the deal, but it’s undeniable that the first rounder was on the table.