Welcome to the weekend!

We actually have something to talk about this time, the Milan Lucic for James Neal trade.

Quickly going over the details of the trade, Edmonton retained $750k from Lucic’s contract, meaning they essentially have to pay Meal $6.5 million for the next four years. Calgary on the other hand, save $500k from Neal’s contract by taking on $5.25 million of Lucic. Both players are 31-years-old and have four years left on their deals.

There is a third-round pick attached to the trade and it’s condition is very odd to say the least. Neal needs to score 21 goals or more and also be 10 goals ahead of Lucic in order for the pick to move across to Calgary.

My first and pretty much only thought on the trade is this: Why? With the retained salary included, the Oilers pay $500k more in cap to “upgrade” from Lucic to Neal, while Calgary “saves” $500k on their cap for four years. There is a plausible argument to make that Neal is better than Lucic and his one-year blip is easier to recover from than Lucic’s two or three-year nosedive, but Neal’s shooting metrics indicate that his past few years were overly lucky and last year he came back down to Earth.

For example, from 2015-18, Neal scored 56 goals at 5v5. He was expected to score 41.45 ixg by Evolving Hockey’s model. That’s 15 extra goals over a three-year sample. Neal has out-scored his expected goals throughout his career, but not by 26% like he did before his shooting regression year with Calgary. But then again, strapping him on to a Connor McDavid rocket solves all those problems. Just not the questions surrounding finding cap space for depth scoring.

On the Lucic side, he’s been a lot like Matt Martin of old in recent years. His shot metrics look great and he’s shown to be something of a good shot suppressor. After watching he and Martin play, it’s likely that those attributes come from just grabbing the puck and running it into the corner to kill time against the other team’s grinding lines. That said, his metrics in his third year with the Oilers took another dip and he’s now negative in a lot of shot quality metrics.

Another thing is how Lucic can’t do offense. At all. He scores at a fourth-line rate against fourth-line competition. Maybe being on a better team with perhaps less pressure due to the lowered expectations will help him, but he’s on the wrong side of 30 now, and the eye test clearly shows that he can’t keep up with the game.

Just look at penalty differential, Lucic was a -11 at even strength last season and a -27 over the past three seasons. According to ESPN, 10 of his penalties were roughing or cross-checking, but nine were stick infractions. So, even if he cleaned up his goon act, he would still be a negative penalty player.

So after all that information, I turn to you.

Do you think that crazy third-round pick condition will be met? And if not, how will it fail?

Yes, Neal 21+ goals, Lucic <11 goals239
No, Neal won’t hit 21 goals100
No, Lucic will be within 10 goals of Neal27
No goals for you! And you! And you! 122

Secondary poll: How does this affect the Leafs?

What would you rather have?

Patrick Marleau21
An equivalent cap hit with some money retained 43
The 2020 first round pick286

Onto the links. The Top 25 Under 25 is fast approaching and Seldo wants me to remind everyone to get their votes in. The community vote is here, and the list of contributors to the voting this year is here.

Now that that’s out of the way, I feel like just throwing in some more Lucic-Neal tweets at the bottom here for fun.