Vancouver Canucks should swap Loui Eriksson for Milan Lucic

VANCOUVER, BC - OCTOBER 7: Loui Eriksson #21 of the Vancouver Canucks and Milan Lucic #27 of the Edmonton Oilers skate up ice during their NHL game at Rogers Arena October 7, 2017 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Vancouver won 3-2. (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)"n
VANCOUVER, BC - OCTOBER 7: Loui Eriksson #21 of the Vancouver Canucks and Milan Lucic #27 of the Edmonton Oilers skate up ice during their NHL game at Rogers Arena October 7, 2017 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Vancouver won 3-2. (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)"n /
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The Edmonton Oilers are reportedly shopping Milan Lucic and may even “sweeten the pot” in a possible trade. Here’s why the Vancouver Canucks should offer up Loui Eriksson for the big forward.

With the Sedins retired, Vancouver Canucks general manager Jim Benning has the unique opportunity to willingly take back toxic contracts from other teams — should it mean landing additional draft selections and/or prospects in return.

The ideal target may be Edmonton Oilers power forward Milan Lucic, who appears to be on the trade block. TSN’s Frank Seravalli recently reported that the Oilers will be looking for teams to take on his contract, “even if that means sweetening the pot with a pick or some other roster player in order to make it happen.”

Lucic signed a seven-year contract worth $42 million with the Oilers in 2016. The 30-year-old had a porous 2017-18 season, scoring just 10 goals and 34 points. Given his age and the fact most physical forwards tend to wear down quickly, there’s reason to believe he’s past his playing prime.

Also, maybe not. Most Oilers players had down years, and Lucic may just need a fresh start. Per CapFriendly, he has a $6 million cap hit for the next five years. In comparison, Loui Eriksson has four more years and also carries a $6 million cap hit.

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It sounds crazy, but the Canucks really should offer up Eriksson for Lucic. Yes, the latter has one more year left on his current deal, and he’s not as strong defensively or on the penalty kill as Eriksson.

But keep in mind what Seravalli said: The Oilers may be willing to throw in another piece for somebody to take on that deal. If having one more year of term means an extra draft pick or roster player for the Canucks, so be it.

Let’s consider some other things here. Even if Vancouver offers to take Lucic without giving up Eriksson, the Oilers could be willing to eat up significant salary. Realistically, the Canucks won’t be tight in cap space for another three years or so.

If the Canucks are tight for cap space by then, they can always buy out Lucic — or “sweeten the pot” by unloading him to another team. If Vancouver is competitive by then, sacrificing an extra draft pick won’t hurt.

And who said Lucic may be a burden, anyway? This is a player who has scored 20 goals and 50 points in a season five times. He’s only a year removed from tallying 23 goals and 50 points, too. Can you imagine him mentoring Jake Virtanen — who looks to be this team’s next great power forward?

Lucic hasn’t fully fit on a young Edmonton team built entirely by speed and skill. With the Canucks, he’d have the chance to play a leadership role, and the Canucks could use him as protection for guys like Elias Pettersson and Brock Boeser.

Now, it’s extremely unlikely the Canucks willingly take on Lucic’s contract, even if Edmonton offers to take back Eriksson’s. But if Vancouver can get the Oilers to eat some of it up while adding another asset or two, it’s something Benning should look into.

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This is his prime opportunity to add more young pieces after failing to do so at the trade deadline. Bringing Lucic home seems crazy at first, but it may not be such a bad move for this franchise in transition.