Photo credit:© Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
On this day in 2019, the Calgary Flames acquire Milan Lucic from rival the Edmonton Oilers
7 months ago
On this day in 2019, the Calgary Flames acquired physical forward Milan Lucic and a third-round draft pick in 2021 from their provincial rivals, the Edmonton Oilers in exchange for forward James Neal.
A battle of Alberta trade is almost unheard of, which is why when the two teams put down their swords to make a deal is all the more exciting. Lucic waived his no-move clause in the summer of 2019, giving the Oilers the green light to trade him off to the Flames.
The trade was viewed as an attempt to change the team’s chemistry and provide a fresh start for himself and Neal. Lucic’s departure from Edmonton marked the end of a turbulent tenure that had promised much but ultimately fell short of expectations. Edmonton would retain 12.5 percent of Lucic’s remaining seven-year, $42 million contract signed back in 2016.
Lucic’s arrival in Calgary brought immediate excitement to the team and its fanbase. Known for his hard-hitting style and ability to drop the gloves, Lucic’s physicality quickly drew the attention of Flames fans. He wasted no time in making his presence felt on the ice, delivering bone-crushing hits, protecting teammates, and asserting himself as a daunting force in the league, especially on a roster with gritty forward Matthew Tkachuk.
Associate coach Geoff Ward agreed with the physicality of Lucic’s game, telling the Calgary Herald‘s Wes Gilbertson, “you would rather have him on your side than be up against him.”
One of the most significant aspects of his time with the Flames was his role as a mentor to the team’s young stars. Lucic embraced the opportunity to guide and support emerging talents like Tkachuk, Dillon Dube, and Andrew Mangiapane, helping them develop their skills and providing valuable leadership in the locker room.
Offensively, Lucic never resurged as a 30-goal scorer, but still managed to maintain a 20+ point pace in the Flames’ bottom-six.
This past season as the Flames struggled without some key players to their team in the past, he contributed seven goals and 19 points, a tad lower than what he previously produced.
As free agency grew closer on July 1st, it didn’t seem like Lucic would be a part of Flames general manager Craig Conroy’s future plans. On July 1st, the forward signed a one-year, $1 million contract with his former Stanley Cup Champion team, the Boston Bruins.
Article from the Calgary Herald in 2019 on Calgary Flames associate coach Geoff Ward speaking on his excitement with acquiring Milan Lucic.
As for Neal, his time in Calgary was a disappointing chapter in his career. When Neal signed a five-year, $28.75-miillion contract with the team as a free agent in the summer of 2018, expectations were high given his previous success as a goal-scorer with the Pittsburgh Penguins, Nashville Predators and Vegas Golden Knights. Coupling that with what was expected to be a strong veteran addition, things unravelled quickly as he lost his scoring touch.
With his lack of scoring, Neal’s fit within the Flames system came into question. His playing style didn’t mesh well with the team’s up-tempo and possession-oriented approach and he often appeared out of sync with his linemates.
The trade marked a fresh start for both players, as they hoped for a change of scenery to revive their respective careers. While Neal’s time in Calgary may not have lived up to expectations, similar to Lucic’s in Edmonton, they became chapters that both players and teams were eager to move on from.
Kirill Kirsanov was selected as the third-round draft pick in 2021 that was acquired by the Flames in the trade, but he was later traded on July 26th, 2021 to the Los Angeles Kings for a sixth-round pick (Jack Beck) and a third-round pick (Cameron Whynot) in 2021.
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