31 Takes: The Oilers need to demote Milan Lucic

Yahoo Sports

Much has been made of the fact that $6-million man Milan Lucic isn’t scoring.

He has as many points this season as Drake Caggiula, a $1.5-million man.

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And Caggiula has four fewer games played.

You can, in fact, trot out any number of ugly, ugly stats to indicate that, yes, Milan Lucic might provide the worst value by cap of anyone in the league.

Here’s one: He hasn’t scored in 16 games, after netting a power-play goal on opening night against the Devils.

Here’s another: He has just one goal and seven assists at 5-on-5 in the 2018 calendar year.

Here’s the third: That goal was against Darcy Kuemper.

Here’s No. 4: Those scoring problems come even as he’s 104th among all forwards in the league in 5-on-5 time on ice in 2018.

Here’s a fifth: And THAT’S despite the fact that he played almost a quarter of his minutes with Connor f’n McDavid.

And finally, a sixth: Among all 165 forwards to play at least 700 minutes at 5-on-5 in 2018, Lucic ranks No. 164 in points per 60 (0.63). He’s wedged between two rather bad players: Tom Pyatt (0.59) and Mattias Janmark (0.73).

Which, if you’re getting one in every four of your full-strength minutes with the best player alive, plus you’re still on the top power play until very recently, after all that? It’s a kind of weird achievement. Lucic has been on the ice for only 19 goals at 5-on-5 in the calendar year. Well, 19 Oilers goals. He’s been on the ice for 39 from Oilers opponents.

The mental gymnastics Todd McLellan and Peter Chiarelli must have to go through to not only continually praise this guy, but continually put him in positions to succeed are incredible. Even when McDavid is off the ice, Lucic still plays with one or both of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins or Leon Draisaitl for another one-third of his minutes or so.

How many goalless games, then, does it take for Lucic to play fourth-line minutes on a consistent basis? He’s typically in the 13-16 range. More recently he played 8 minutes before getting tossed against Tampa and 10:36 against the Panthers, playing with third liners Ryan Strome and Caggiula, then saw his ice time go up again last night, to 11:35. And that included TWO minutes on the power play, with some time on the top unit.

On the one hand you gotta give power-play minutes to someone, I guess. But in what universe do you not cut him off at some point? More to the point, how have they not scratched him even once in the past two seasons?

This is a guy who can’t score at 5-on-5 despite a lot of help. He can’t score on the power play with even more help. He takes too many penalties, because the Oilers are MINUS-33 in penalties when he’s on the ice the last two years. And he doesn’t kill them, playing just 1:27, total, on the kill in his last 99 games.

This is, plainly, a player who provides no tangible value above what even a substandard AHL call-up would. If you want to say intangibles have value, and that Lucic stands up for his teammates and he’s good in the room, the latter is tough to argue. The former begs the question of how much value they provide over what any random left winger in Bakersfield or off the waiver wire would.

The problem for Edmonton is that Lucic isn’t going anywhere. His contract is buyout-proof, no one’s gonna trade for him, you can’t healthy-scratch him for the remainder of his deal, and you’re not gonna stash such a big cap hit in the AHL.

There’s a difference between grinning and bearing it with a $6-million wing who plays the fewest minutes on the team every single night, and continuing to give him opportunities that he not only hasn’t earned, but has actively disqualified himself from getting.

This guy has to be accountable for being as bad as he’s become.

Milan Lucic has four years left on his contract after this season. (Photo by John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images)
Milan Lucic has four years left on his contract after this season. (Photo by John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images)
31 Takes

Anaheim Ducks: You have to admire this team’s dedication to getting absolutely destroyed. Fans are now chanting “Fire Carlyle” at games and everything. Pretty cool that nothing has happened at all and probably nothing will.

Arizona Coyotes: Well look, sometimes you run into…….. this says “Casey DeSmith.” Come on. Really? Okay. Sometimes you run into Casey DeSmith.

Boston Bruins: David Pastrnak now has two hat tricks already this season. He has 15 goals in 16 games. Feels like it should be more of a story.

Buffalo Sabres: A big trade! Hooray hooray!

Calgary Flames: People are gonna talk about a goaltending controversy in Calgary so let’s boil it down to its essence: There’s one guy who’s cheap and playing really well (.935 in eight starts), and one old guy who’s expensive and sucks (.872 in 11 starts). The controversy is: “But we wanna keep playing the bad one!”

Carolina Hurricanes: Scott Darling has never won two games in a row for Carolina. Brutal.

Chicago Blackhawks: Now this is the good stuff.

Colorado Avalanche: You mean to tell me that the Avalanche aren’t one of the best teams in hockey?

Columbus Blue Jackets: At what point do we call it with this coaching staff? This is the current Blue Jackets core’s last kick at the can because they’re probably gonna lose Panarin and Bobrovsky this summer, and they’re just … not good??

Dallas Stars: On the one hand blowing a very winnable game against Nashville despite a lot of injuries is bad. On the other, they were without four regular defensemen and two forwards.

Detroit Red Wings: The Wings have three straight games in which they came back from down two goals to win. They’ve also won six of their last seven games. The Red Wings. The Detroit Red Wings. In 2018.

Edmonton Oilers: Yeah Yamamoto and Puljujarvi are the problems for sure. Imagine if they got half the opportunities Lucic did. Damn.

Florida Panthers: A win over the Islanders now looks a lot better than it’s going to in a couple months.

Los Angeles Kings: Willie Desjardins is 1-2 to start his ill-fated run with the Kings and I gotta say: That sounds about right.

Minnesota Wild: To play devil’s advocate here: Winning a California trip isn’t what it used to be. The Wild did what every team should do now: Lose to the Sharks then pummel L.A. and Anaheim. That’s the new normal.

Montreal Canadiens: Max Domi has 21 points so far this season????? I mean eventually he’s gonna stop shooting 25 percent, but boy oh boy does this make Bergevin look like a genius until the bottom drops out.

Nashville Predators: How have the Preds not lost on the road yet? That seems impossible a month into the season, but they’re 8-0 with only two wins even coming in OT. Pretty impressive.

New Jersey Devils: They have a bad roster?

New York Islanders: It was less than a week ago that people were saying these guys “figured it out” because of their like 107 PDO or whatever and it’s like, have you people paid literally any attention to anything in this sport over the last decade, or…? Anyway they’ve lost three in a row to the surprise of no one with a functioning brain.

New York Rangers: This team was supposed to be tanking, right? So who cares if they lose to Detroit. Whatever!

Ottawa Senators: Very ironic, to me, that Colin White scored on a tip.

Philadelphia Flyers: Philly hasn’t lost to Chicago at home in the regular season since … 1996?

Pittsburgh Penguins: I love when people realize after almost a decade and a half that Crosby loves to play on his backhand. That’s, like, his whole thing.

San Jose Sharks: If these guys ever get their heads on straight, it’s over. One wonders if the “if” on that comes through though.

St. Louis Blues: This is a literally perfect headline take. Don’t need to say more than that.

Tampa Bay Lightning: Humiliating.

Toronto Maple Leafs: Yeah the Leafs’ record in November is why they don’t need to sign a great young player. Makes a lot of sense. Perfect take.

Vancouver Canucks: The Canucks have scored fewer than half the goals (they have a minus-1 differential) in all their games but are somehow 10-6-2. What the hell?

Vegas Golden Knights: Just not a good loss. Hey by the way, Fleury still looks terrible. Great contract.

Washington Capitals: At what point do people accept that this is an only-okay team? They’re fine. That’s about it.

Winnipeg Jets: Once this group got its special teams going, well, they started looking like the Jets. They’re 7-3-1 in the last 11.

Gold Star Award

I swear to god there were local media people talking on FRIDAY about the importance of breaking up the Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak line. People who get paid a pretty good living to write about this stuff every day. Can you believe it?

Minus of the Weekend

You don’t often see guys apologize to goalies they scored on but here we are.

Play of the Weekend

This Crosby kid might just have a future in the sport.

Perfect HFBoards Trade Proposal of the Week

User “Joe Hallenback” has his eyes on the prize.

Drew Doughty + Jeff Carter to Winnipeg for Nik Ehlers + Jacob Trouba + 2019 1st + 2020 2nd + Jack Roslovic

Signoff

Ah, tiempo para relaxar en paz y quieto.

Ryan Lambert is a Yahoo! Sports hockey columnist. His email is here and his Twitter is here.

(All stats via Corsica unless otherwise noted.)

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