Report: James Neal Trade to Oilers 'Close'; Flames Get Milan Lucic, Draft Pick

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistJuly 19, 2019

CALGARY, AB - DECEMBER 6: James Neal #18 of the Calgary Flames in action against the Minnesota Wild during an NHL game at Scotiabank Saddledome on December 6, 2018 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images)
Derek Leung/Getty Images

The Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames are reportedly close to finalizing a trade that will include the swapping of veteran forward James Neal and Milan Lucic.

According to Eric Francis of Sportsnet, the Oilers would retain some of Lucic's salary and include a conditional draft pick in the deal.

Both Neal and Lucic struggled through arguably their worst NHL seasons in 2018-19; Neal finished with 19 points in 63 games, and Lucic had 20 points in 79 games.

The 31-year-old Neal signed a five-year deal with the Flames last offseason after spending 2017-18 with the Western Conference champion Vegas Golden Knights. He is a three-time All-Star who has also spent time with the Dallas Stars, Pittsburgh Penguins and Nashville Predators.

Neal has five seasons with 25 or more goals on his resume and has registered 270 goals and 244 assists for 514 points in 766 career regular-season games. He is just two seasons removed from a fairly productive campaign in Vegas that saw him record 25 goals and 44 points in 71 contests.

Lucic, 31, signed a seven-year deal with the Oilers prior to the 2016-17 season after eight years with the Boston Bruins and one with the Los Angeles Kings.

He is a five-time 20-goal scorer, and he won a Stanley Cup with the Bruins in 2011.

Lucic's last highly productive season came in 2016-17, which was his first campaign with the Oilers. He racked up 23 goals and 27 assists for 50 points in 82 games that season.

The 6'3", 231-pound power forward has 198 goals and 303 assists for 501 points in 890 career regular-season games. Also, despite his rough-and-tumble style of play, he has not missed more than three games in a season since 2009-10.

If the trade happens, it will be made with both teams hoping that the player they acquire will benefit from a change of scenery. It would also have financial implications.

Neal has four years left on his deal with an average annual salary of $5.75 million, while Lucic also has four years remaining at $6 million per year.

The Flames have reached the playoffs in three of the past five seasons, including last season. Lucic could potentially add some size and grit to their bottom six as they look to improve on their first-round exit.

Meanwhile, the Oilers have missed the playoffs in each of the past two seasons and in 12 of the past 13 campaigns.

Perhaps Edmonton has designs on putting Neal alongside superstar center Connor McDavid in hopes of seeing if he can recapture some his past goal-scoring magic on a new team.

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