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Photo Credit: SERGEI BELSKI-USA TODAY SPORTS

Three Trades the Leafs Could Make For Milan Lucic

I’m sure that I wasn’t alone this morning when I woke up this morning in a bad mood.

I stubbed my toe, I spilled my coffee, and I realized that today isn’t a Leafs game day even though it very obviously should be.

So, like any self-respect-lacking Leafs blogger I decided to devise a way to make everyone else as miserable as me. And that’s why today, we’re going to talk about trading for Milan Lucic.

Everyone who dreams of being a GM knows that one of the best ways to be a good general manager is to call the bad ones often. Obviously, Peter Chiarelli should be #1  on speed dial, knowing that his asset management strategy is in a state of such disarray.

He has traded away Hall and Eberle in disastrous deals, he has brought on such star free agents as Kris Russell, he overpaid Draisaitl significantly, and that’s only a small selection of his troubles as Oilers GM.

The Leafs have some not-so-great contracts, but none on the level of Lucic. He has 4 years after this one on his deal, at a salary cap hit of $6M. The deal includes a No Move Clause for the next 2 years, and the last two years have a Modified No Trade Clause, where he can submit a trade list of 8 teams he’ll accept a trade to the first year, and 10 teams in the 2nd year (thanks to CapFriendly for the info).

That means that, for the next 2 years, the Oilers would have to ask Lucic’s permission to deal him to the Leafs, or else the deal wouldn’t go through.

EDIT: Apparently I missed that Marleau has a no move clause which completely invalidates this very serious article. I’m sorry to everyone who wasted their time on this, including me. When I get time, I’ll try to replace the deals below, but really if you’re not moving Marleau for Lucic+ there isn’t a deal that makes sense.

Trade 1: Save Dat Money

The first idea would be to let the take the teams’ worst contracts and just swap ’em, and see what happens.

TOR Gets EDM Gets
Milan Lucic Patrick Marleau
Nikita Zaitsev

As mentioned above, the contracts of Marleau and Zaitsev aren’t nearly as bad as Lucic’s, especially in the case of Marleau. But packaging them together could make this a worthwhile effort for the Leafs.

In terms of cap hits, the Leafs would save $1.75M next year, then take on an extra $1.5M for 3 years, and then the Oilers would have 2 more years of paying Nikita Zaitsev $4.5M. The Oilers are getting a lot more value in terms of players, but the Leafs are helping themselves a fair bit money-wise.  The Oilers gain because for a few years they get a cost-controlled defenseman, a much better LW for this year and next, and taking Lucic off the books gives them some more money to work with over the next 3 years.

The best deal for Lucic is one where, overall, the Leafs are spending less money. In that sense, this seems like a win. However, this doesn’t really do anything for the Leafs and actually makes them significantly worse in the short term.

Overall, this wouldn’t be a loss, but it also wouldn’t be a win. Does that make it a good hockey trade? Or a pointless endeavor? It definitely seems like the answer is “pointless endeavor”.

Trade 2: Take on Money for Prospects

TOR Gets EDM Gets
Milan Lucic (33% ret) Patrick Marleau
Ethan Bear

With the Oilers retaining 33% (=$2M), and sending off Marleau, the Leafs save $2.25M for each of the next 2 years. This could be all the difference in getting William Nylander signed to a long term deal. In the 3 years following Marleau’s assumed retirement, the Leafs would be costing themselves an extra $4M for In all likelihood, the last year or two of Lucic’s deal will be spent on LTIR. Being on LTIR doesn’t mean his cap hit is completely ignored, but it would give them some room to work with at least.

Ethan Bear is a great young player that the Leafs would be ecstatic to add, and is the price the Oilers would have to pay for the Leafs taking on the extra $4M for the last 3 years of Lucic’s contract.

Trade 3: Chaos

TOR Gets EDM Gets
Milan Lucic (25% ret) Patrick Marleau
Ethan Bear Nikita Zaitsev
Adam Larsson Connor Brown
2nd round pick

How the money breaks down here is somewhat complicated with all the moving parts so here’s a chart. The Leafs saving money is a negative amount, and the Leafs taking on extra money is a positive amount (numbers in italics are salary guesses by me):

2019 2020 2021 2022 2023 2024
Marleau 6.25 6.25
Lucic 6 6 6 6 6
Zaitsev 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5
Larsson 4.16667 4.16667 4.16667 5 5 5
Brown 2.1 2.1 2 2 2 2
Bear 0 (not on roster) 0.72 2 2 4.5 4.5
Leafs Before 12.85 12.85 6.5 6.5 6.5 6.5
Leafs After 8.66667 9.3867 10.66667 11 14 9.5
Difference 4.1833 3.4633 -4.16667 -4.5 -7.5 -3

The reasons the Oilers improve:

  • Save money in the long term
  • Get depth scoring they desperately need for the next 2 years
  • Lottery ticket

The reasons the Leafs improve:

  • Save money in the short term
  • Good defensive prospect
  • Better 2nd pair RHD

The short term money could serve to give them room to extend William Nylander, hoping they win it all. It could also be used to improve the defense in the short term further, like signing a high value LHD to replace Hainsey, while bridging Nylander and going for it all for 2 years.

Final Thoughts

Obviously this is all ridiculousness that won’t actually occur, but it’s a fun exercise for my brain to partake in, so I’m happy I subjected you to it.

Do you think there’s a realistic deal the Leafs could make that involves Lucic? Perhaps there’s another dead money contract that the Leafs could take advantage of out there that you’re thinking about? Let me know in the comments!

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  • None of this makes any sense. Marleau won’t be playing for the Leafs next year – the structure of his contract makes it incredibly clear that this was always the intention of the both the team and the player. So this year, you’re getting rid of a good winger and a decent, if overpaid defenceman to take on a mediocre 3rd-line winger. After this year, you’ve got a guy who’s probably devolved to a fourth-line winger at $6 million, and you’ve given up a passable 2nd-pairing defenceman at $4.5 million. This is a *massive* lose – you’re paying more money for a weaker player in a position you’re deeper at.

    The other suggestions don’t make any more sense. Larsson is an upgrade on Zaitsev, sure, but not enough to give away Connor Brown and the ever-popular second round pick, and Ethan Bear probably tops out as a decent 3rd-pairing guy. This just makes *no sense* at all.

    The only way these deals make sense is if Edmonton sends major assets back the Leafs’ way to take Lucic’s contract off their hands, but even then, burdening the team with Lucic’s contract when they’re doing everything they can to ensure they have the cap space to fit all of Matthews, Marner, Nylander, and Tavares under the cap is just stupid.

  • Crewbert

    This is quite possibly the worst Leafs article I’ve ever read.

    Also you guys need to realize, regardless of the NMC… You can’t just trade guys that you sign as free agents a year down the road, otherwise you won’t be able to sign any other free agents, it’s as simple as that. Teams have a reputation to keep.