Updates on Lucic and Bjugstad – July 12, 2018
The latest on Edmonton Oilers left wing Milan Lucic and Florida Panthers forward Nick Bjugstad in your NHL rumor mill.
LUCIC ALMOST CERTAIN TO REMAIN AN OILER
EDMONTON JOURNAL: David Staples recently went through the “weird rollercoaster” of trade rumors swirling about Oilers left wing Milan Lucic since June 2. There was talk the Oilers were trying to package Lucic with a draft pick in an attempt to shed his contract in hopes of freeing up salary-cap space. Some of the speculation suggested Lucic wasn’t asking to be moved but was working with Oilers management to gauge his trade value. By late-June, however, Lucic’s agent denied his client was asked to waive his no-movement clause or sought to be traded.
Sifting through the rumors, Staples concludes the Oilers may have looked into moving Lucic but nothing came of it, probably because of the winger’s $6-million annual cap hit and declining production last season.
Staples also rejects the notion recently suggested by TSN’s Frank Seravalli that Lucic’s current situation with the Oilers is “almost untenable”. While Lucic appears all but certain to return to the Oilers next season, Staples feels it’s up to the big winger to make the best of things in Edmonton in 2018-19.
Staples also credits Oilers general manager Peter Chiarelli for not selling low on Lucic. “There’s a decent-to-good chance Lucic will bounce back this year, at least when it comes to his goal scoring and point totals. Such a bounce back should give Lucic more value should he and the team still want to move him next summer.” He believes there’s a 60/40 chance of Lucic having a bounce-back performance.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I concur with Staples’ take. The Oilers may have looked into the possibility of moving Lucic but probably didn’t reach the point where they felt they had sufficient interest from other clubs to ask him to waive his movement clause. He may not have requested a trade but may have been willing to waive his clause if the Oilers approached him with a suitable destination. If Lucic regains his form next season it should improve his trade value, though interested parties will likely want the Oilers to pick up a portion of his cap hit.
PANTHERS NOT INTERESTED IN MOVING BJUGSTAD
THE ATHLETIC: Nick Kelly reports Florida Panthers forward Nick Bjugstad has been the subject of trade speculation. He cites a recent interview by Bjugstad’s agent, Ben Hankinson, claiming the Minnesota Wild, Montreal Canadiens and Pittsburgh Penguins have at times expressed interest in his client. However, Hankinson said Panthers GM Dale Tallon told him there’s no chance the 25-year-old forward gets traded. The agent acknowledged no player is untouchable but said the price for Bjugstad “has gone up.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: As Hankinson noted, if Tallon got the right offer for Bjugstad he’d trade him. However, it doesn’t sound as though anyone’s coming close to meeting the asking price, whatever that may be. The 6-foot-6, 218-pounder was shifted from center to left wing last season and set career highs in assists (30) and points (49). He could be poised for bigger things in 2018-19.