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This from Chris Johnston of Sportsnet: “The NHL has made a decision on the terms of the James Neal / Milan Lucic July 2019 trade:” The Oilers will transfer their third round pick in 2020 or 2021 to the Flames to complete the deal. Edmonton has until the start of the third round in 2020 to decide which pick.
The original conditions on the Neal for Lucic trade on July 19 were:
The conditions are as follows:
- Two conditions must be met for the Edmonton Oilers to send a 2020 third-round pick to the Calgary Flames
- Oilers forward James Neal to score at least 21 goals in 2019-20 season
- Flames striker Milan Lucic scores at least 10 fewer goals than James Neal in the 2019-20 season
- If one or none of the conditions are met, the Edmonton Oilers will not send a draft pick to the Calgary Flames in the July 19 trade.
- The NHL’s decision here stings from Edmonton’s point of view, although there is some fairness to both sides.
- James Neal has scored 19 goals in 55 games, missing 16 of the Oilers’ 71 games. Milan Lucic has scored eight goals in 68 games. The Flames have played 70 games. If you extrapolate Neal’s score for the 11 extra games Edmonton played in the 2019-20 regular season, he would have scored 3.8 more goals. If you extrapolate Lucic, he would have scored 1.4 more goals.
- By this method, Neal would have scored 22.8 goals in total, while Lucic would have scored 9.4 goals. Essentially, Neal would have scored over 21 goals and he would have scored at least 10 more goals than Lucic, meaning the conditions for Edmonton to hand over an extra third round pick would have been met. That way, the NHL’s decision is fair to Calgary. After all, it’s not Calgary’s fault that COVID-19 wiped out the season.
- That said, it’s not certain that Neal would have scored more goals in the past 11 games. He could well have finished with 19 goals if those games had been played. The NHL is giving Edmonton a bone on that by allowing the team to hand their third-round pick to Calgary next year, not this year. That’s a bonus for the Oilers, given the team’s limited draft picks this year, and given that this 2020 draft is seen as rich in talent.
- Overall, Edmonton has been a big winner in this trade, if only for trading Lucic. It was imperative to move on from Lucic, who was ill-adjusted in Edmonton, a team that needed speed, speed and more speed in their lineup, especially on the third and fourth rows. Lucic was simply unable to provide this, and he was no longer able to participate more in the power play. Neal isn’t much faster than Lucic, but he’s certainly more adept on the power play, where he’s scored 12 goals this year, tied for sixth in the NHL.
- The other major problem with Lucic is his no-move clause. It’s Calgary to deal with now, not Edmonton. While Edmonton won’t have to protect James Neal in Seattle’s upcoming expansion draft, Calgary will have to protect Lucic, unless there is a way out of that NMC that I’m not aware of. , which is possible. At the moment, however, Edmonton is out of that condition, a major bonus for the team.
- Maybe Flames fans are happy with Lucic’s performance in Calgary. This team lacked size and toughness, after all, which is why Calgary traded for the player. The final trade tally won’t be written for a few years, but a key moment is looming right now. How will Neal do for the Oilers in the playoffs? What will Lucic do for the Flames? Given that Lucic was mediocre for the Oilers in the 2017 playoffs, I’m not optimistic about his chances of playing well now three years later. Of course, Neal was also a bust for the Flames in the playoffs in 2019, where he ended up in good health. But count on me to think Neal could play well for the Oilers in this playoff. He’s been a useful player all year. He is well rested and healthy at the moment. I can see him playing with big punches and a weird big goal.
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