Milan Lucic (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
One Boston pundit believes Milan Lucic would give the Oilers some much-needed snarl up front, and he thinks the Bruins would consider a swap for either Taylor Hall or Jordan Eberle...And in Vancouver, is trading Kevin Bieksa one way the Canucks can get out of their cap crunch?
The Edmonton Oilers winning the 2015 draft lottery continues to resonate in the trade rumor mill. Their recent hiring of former Hockey Canada honcho Bob Nicholson as CEO and former Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli as GM and president of hockey operations provides further speculation of major off-season moves for the Oilers.
Joe Haggerty of CSNNE noted these factors while suggesting there's a good chance Oilers top-line wingers Taylor Hall or Jordan Eberle could be available. He feels the Bruins should consider offering up power forward Milan Lucic for Hall or Eberle.
Haggerty believes Lucic's style of play is something the Oilers need. He also notes the 26-year-old left winger's friendship with Oilers captain Andrew Ference, which dates back to the Ference’s days with the Bruins. With Lucic eligible for unrestricted free agency next summer, Haggerty feels Edmonton could be just the place where he could land a big payday.
However, it's Lucic's UFA status in 2016 that works against such a move. Assuming the Oilers are willing to move Hall or Eberle (and at this point, there's nothing out of Edmonton suggesting either guy is available), they'll want assurances Lucic is willing to sign a contract extension before acquiring him. Otherwise, they're giving up a top asset for a player who could bolt in one year via free agency.
Lucic also has a modified no-trade clause. If the Oilers are on his “no-trade” list, that rules out any possibility of shipping him to Edmonton.
Prior to the lottery, former Oilers GM Craig MacTavish reportedly told Hall, Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins they won't be dealt. While it's possible getting Connor McDavid with the first-overall pick could change that, odds are Oilers management prefers to retain Hall and Eberle. That duo could become McDavid's linemates next season.
TRADE BIEKSA TO MAKE CAP ROOM?
Add the Vancouver Canucks to the list of teams that could face the need to shed salary. The Canucks have more than $65 million in salary cap payroll invested in 17 players and retained salary for 2015-16.
Management must decide if they'll re-sign veteran forwards Shawn Matthias and Brad Richardson or let them walk via free agency in July. They must also re-sign RFAs Linden Vey, Yannick Weber, Brandon McMillan, Ronalds Kenins, Ryan Stanton and Sven Baertschi. Promising youngsters Jake Virtanen and Hunter Shinkaruk could crack the lineup next season, putting further strain on their cap space.
With only a minimal increase expected over the current $69-million cap ceiling, the Canucks will be hard pressed to retain their key free agents unless they dump some salary. One or two veterans could be moved in the off-season.
The Edmonton Journal's Jim Matheson wonders if the Canucks could consider trading long-time blueline stalwart Kevin Bieksa. The 33-year-old was limited to 60 games this season because of injuries. Matheson notes the wear-and-tear of his physical style has slowed him some, plus he has a year remaining on his contract at a cap hit of $4.6 million.
Bieksa's no-trade clause complicates things, but he could waive it for a suitable destination. Considering how well the Canucks played during his absence, this season could be Bieksa's last in Vancouver.