48Milan Lucic
Photo Credit: Perry Nelson/USA Today Sports

Milan Lucic’s arrival also adds some complications

Milan Lucic is now a member of the Calgary Flames. But the arrival of the Vancouver product from the Edmonton Oilers brings along with it a few complications for the team’s hockey operations department moving forward.

The salary structure

Under Brad Treliving, the Flames have carved out a pretty logical salary structure. Well, here comes Lucic to throw a wrench into things.

Even with the Oilers carrying $750,000 of his cap hit, Lucic will count $5.25 million against the cap – more than anybody on the team not named Johnny Gaudreau, Mark Giordano, Sean Monahan or Mikael Backlund (though Matthew Tkachuk likely joins this group this summer). He’ll eat up the sixth-most cap on the team, but he won’t be the sixth most important player.

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The no-move clause

Lucic waived his no-move clause to facilitate the trade, but OilersNation’s Jason Gregor has some intel:

Lucic is the only Flames player with a NMC. Several players have no-trade clauses of various stripes – the others Mikael Backlund, Michael Frolik, Mark Giordano, Michael Stone and TJ Brodie.

The expansion draft

As he has a NMC, Lucic would be required to be protected in the 2021 NHL Expansion Draft that will welcome the expansion Seattle Grinders to hockey’s highest level. The expansion terms allow the Flames (and other existing clubs) to protect seven forwards, three defensemen and a goalie or eight skaters and a goalie. The Flames were already going to have to make some tough decisions given all their fine young defensemen without having to protect a player with a NMC.

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The Flames have the ability to ask Lucic to waive his no-move. He has the ability to say no. Adding Lucic and his NMC complicates things and takes away a bit of control from the club.


The Oilers are retaining 12.5% of Lucic’s salary. That also applies to any potential contract buyout. However, the bonus-heavy nature of Lucic’s contract complicates things.

Our pals at PuckPedia broke down how a buyout would look given Lucic’s salary retention:

Buying Lucic out would (a) be pricey and (b) carry with it an extremely minimal cap savings, rendering his deal essentially buyout-proof. This aspect of the trade is likely why the Flames got salary retention and a conditional pick thrown in, but it also means that this is a gamble that general manager Brad Treliving is likely going to have to live with for better or worse.

  • Skylardog

    When we signed Brouwer I was happy because at least at 4 years and $4.5 it wasn’t Lucic’s $6.0 over 7.

    Now both are on our books.
    And Oilernation is celebrating…

    Can we all agree now that Tre just needs to be done?

    • Sol Goode

      I really don’t think firing GM’s every few years is a good thing to do. Treliving has done a pretty good job of turning our team around.
      We all may dislike this move but I do think Lucic fits our roster make up better than Neal did. He has better possession metrics and actually will put in the effort.

    • Porcupine at a balloon party

      For trading a bad contract for a bad contract? Jury’s still very much out on this one.

      I don’t like this trade for simple fact this trade would’ve been there next year had Neal had an equally bad season, but there’s a far better chance of rebound for Neal given the shooting %, his previous 20g scoring steak, and he’s working out with Roberts this summer.

      But for everyone that’s been saying we need physical presence in the lineup, we just got it. Also, Lucic is also a play driver. He may very well fit in on Backlund line. He was +8 Corsi/rel last year, has been a career Corsi relative positive player (every single season), and actually had a 54% Corsi last year on a team that was very much in the negative for driving play.

      Saving 500k on payroll is actually somewhat of a win here.

      Seeing Neal regain his game playing with McDavid would really hurt though, just because it’s the Oilers

  • Skylardog

    The over/under for goals for by these two combined next season at 29.5.

    That’s 25 by Neal on a line with McD and Dry, and 5 by Lucic to win the over.

    I would take the under as I don’t see Luc getting 5.

  • Sploooosh

    Really, the oilers are paying 6.5 million for James Neil, who looked unmotivated, out of shape, and slow last season. Calgary sheds 500k salary and gets a player who scored one more point than Neil last year. The conditional 3rd is a plus for the flames.

    the only real blemish? Lucic’s NMC.

  • SouthernFlame

    Neal won’t be playing with McDavid, we were all saying this last year. We know what we have in Lucic, those poor people up north don’t know what they have and who cares what they are saying!!! They have the cancer that’s called Mike Smith and James Neal and it gets spread throughout the locker room pretty fast. I am not worried a bit about this because we know what we are getting with salary retained so it’s not that big of a deal. Neal playing on their top six? Let them! We didn’t need Neal on our top six to get where we went last year. I don’t know who watches games on this site but I watched all of them religiously and Neal seriously looked lost most of the time. Yeah Lucic hasn’t produced but at least we know that and that he had other skills like hitting and grit. Those poor people up north don’t know what they just got.

      • slapshot444

        “Cancer in the room” is pretty strong language and should only be revered for the very few. I can tell you there were several observed “conversations” between Smith and Tkachuk that weren’t too friendly. Pretty sure Smith won’t be missed by many. Neal was more popular but argued openly with Peters and that created friction in the room. A guy struggling when his career nosedives is difficult to accommodate, there is only so long you can stay “hang in there” when the slump lasts all year. If the team wasn’t in first place in the West if would have been uglier.

    • Leichs

      Lol Neal and McDavid are great friends stemming back to the all star game where the two lit it up together. They have already been spotted around town together and Neal will be going with McDavid to train with Roberts. I don’t think anyone in Ed is worried about Neal becoming cancer in the locker room. Neal also admitted after two straight cup final runs he was not ready after the summer last year. You think a perennial 20 goal scorer just randomly forgets how to shoot a puck? Also its comical you Flames thinking Millan is a better point producer than Neal. I swear I even saw a comment on here about how Lucic drives the play when he’s on the ice LMAOOOO. If by that you mean he drives the puck into his teammates shinpads with a simple pass. He’s so tough that he got into like 2 fights total last year and didn’t look like anything special. Jujar, Kass and Nurse all fight and chirp more than Luc. Ask Tkachuk how he feels about Kass. Turtle turtle turtleeee. If McD can get Chassion 27 goals how many is a pure sniper like Neal going to get. Thanks for the minimum 25 goals and taking the boat anchor off our hands.

        • Budgie

          Look where the Flames finished last season-Edmonton since Gretzsky was deemed expendable have been fighting for the top pick in the draft every year-hence McDavid. How many first rounders did you hold onto? How many times have you been last?

          • FlameCity

            In fairness, you can’t really compare the “success” of the Flames last season to the Oilers from 89/90 until now. If you want to cherry pick your timelines to suit your arguments it needs to be a little more thought out. I agree the Oilers have been a debacle and that has been a joy to watch, but to suggest one year of success for the Flames makes them better than the Oilers since the late 80’s makes Flames fans look bad. To do a true comparison may not look as rosy. Oilers 24 playoff rounds since 99 left and 18 missed playoffs. Flames 18 playoff rounds and 15 missed playoffs.

      • Stampeders

        Agreed!!..lmao thanks Tre!!
        Lucic skates like a slug!!…so he can fight?..big deal,let him take bad penalties! lol..no doubt Neal will rebound…gooo Oilers!!

    • Budgie

      I thought Mike Smith and James Neal were team guys? I don’t think they were negative elements-the team finished near the top of the league. Calgary and Edmonton both have two vastly over-paid players that no one would bite on-you could pay 3 prospects decent ELCs for what they make

    • FlameCity

      In 13 more games and for two years been trending down. We’ll see if Neal catches up to Lucic’s decline, but having 5.5 mil on the 4th line is a tough pill. But on the other hand he is a better 4th liner than Neal would be and Neal had to go. Maybe better to buy Neal out and get a million dollar guy that can play tough for that spot in the line up and not be stuck with the Lucic contract structure.

      • Beer_League_Ringer

        That is the real question in my mind. Why not just buy Neal out? Maybe ownership said no? Regardless, Lucic really is a physical player. Always hitting. As an Oilers fan, I will surely miss that part of his game.

  • Stu Gotz

    Pike has chosen to show the negative side only to this trade. Lucic also has the ability to say yes if the Flames ask him to waive his NMC. Lucic also brings an element that the Flames have lacked. He is a tough SOB and is known to protect his team mates and make them feel taller. Both Lucic and Neal are failures thus far with their new contracts. Both have a potential upside with new surroundings.

    • Porcupine at a balloon party

      Not sure what’s so negative about this article? Sure it’s not sunshine and rainbows, but the headline clearly states there are some complications with his contract and he’s pointing them out. He actually specifically states what you’re calling him out for not saying “the flames have the ability to ask him to waive”. The “tough SOB” element has nothing to do with the complications of his contract. It’s not an article about whether he’s better than Neal, or if this trade was a win for either team. Ryan’s specialty is CBA related articles, and that’s what this is, a look at how the bonus structure and NMC affect the Flames

  • FLT

    According to both Dean Molberg and Eric Francis (twitters), Neal was a bad fit with the Flames – didn’t bond with the team, was unhappy in his role from the beginning, and Peters didn’t like him. He needed to go.

    The Flames didn’t get enough for taking on Lucic’s contract, but both contracts were very bad and Lucic adds a dimension to the team that Neal didn’t. The Flames finished 1st in the West last year with negative contributions from Neal, and Lucic can’t be much worse. Plus, despite wretched counting stats, Looch actually has better possession metrics than Neal, and suffered similarly bad luck via shooting percentage the last 2 years.

    You can’t turn a turd into gold. Change needed to happen, and it happened. Go Flames Go.

    • seamax

      Good to see Francis is still doing what he was put on God’s green earth to do, which is to badmouth players on their way out of town at management’s request. Given his other job of carrying water for the team on a new arena project seems to be coming to a close, good to see he will have gainful employment for as long as Treliving is around needing his tires pumped.

  • supra steve

    Is the whole Lucic NMC/expansion draft even relevant? The Flames team strength this year, and for the next couple of years I would bet, is their D corps. I believe the next expansion draft is going to cost them a D man because their 4th best D will be far more attractive than their 7th or 8th best F. So if that is the case, protecting Lucic doesn’t change the outcome of losing that #4 D man. For that reason the NMC is probably not worth losing any sleep over.

    • oilcanboyd

      ..and I am sure that Lucic will waive his NMC for expansion draft so the Flames can protect another forward. No way anyone would pick up that contract even 2 years down the road.

      • Albertabeef

        No way will Ron Francis take Lucic in the expansion draft. Like you said no way anyone would pick up that contract. But we should be so happy to be stuck with it.

  • Jobu

    For anyone to think that Lucic is an upgrade on Neal goes to show how much of a dud and locker room cancer Neal actually was.

    I hope he just erodes Edmonton away like a rotten apple.

  • Albertabeef

    One more possible complication of this trade is this comparison of 2018-19 stats

    Bennett 71GP 13G 14A 27PTS -6 93Pim(5 majors) 115 S 11.3sh% 13:17AvgToi
    Lucic 79GP 6G 14A 20PTS -9 91Pim(3 majors) 74S 8.1sh% 13:14AvgToi

    If I’m Benny’s manager I’m calling Tre to demand $5.25mil