The Battle of Alberta just keeps getting more and more interesting.
The Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames have completed a trade just days after the Oilers signed ex-Flames goalie Mike Smith to a contract and Calgary signed ex-Oilers goalie Cam Talbot.
Milan Lucic was traded to the Flames by the Oilers for James Neal on Friday.
— NHL (@NHL) July 20, 2019
Calgary also received a conditional third-round pick in the 2020 NHL Draft. The Oilers are retaining 12.5 percent of Lucic’s $6 million annual NHL salary cap charge ($750,000).
It’s a fresh start for both players, as Neal struggled to produce in Calgary, while Lucic’s declining play had seen him be the subject of constant trade rumours in Edmonton.
The 31-year-old Lucic had just six goals in 79 games last season — his lowest total in 12 years. He has four seasons remaining on his seven-year contract that carries an AAV of $6M. He signed as a UFA with the Oilers on July 1, 2016 when Peter Chiarelli was GM of the team. Chiarelli was already familiar with Lucic from his Boston days when he was GM of the Bruins.
Neal had seven goals and 19 points in 63 regular season games for the Flames last season. The 31-year-old sniper was kept off the scoresheet in the playoffs and was a healthy scratch in Calgary’s season-ending Game 5 loss to the Avalanche. Neal is heading into just the second year of a five-year contract that carries an AAV of $5,750,000.
Calgary appears to be the winner on paper, as Neal had surpassed the 20-goal mark in each of his previous seven seasons before arriving in Calgary. He’s had trouble staying in one place, however as Edmonton will be his fourth team in four seasons (Nashville, Vegas, Calgary).
Many Oilers fans are salivating at the possibility of Neal returning to his 40-goal form on a potential line with superstar Connor McDavid.
While Lucic doesn’t have the sniping ability Neal possesses, he has five 20-plus goal seasons to his name and brings a physical element to the Flames roster. At 6″3′ and 231 lbs, Lucic is an intimidating power forward who consistently finishes among the league leaders in hits and PIM.
Milan Lucic tracks down Mathieu Joseph after he hit Kris Russell from behind and almost starts a line brawl pic.twitter.com/9x5CDQHsfG
— Brady Trettenero (@BradyTrett) November 7, 2018
The real winner of this trade might just be the Battle of Alberta. We saw an incredible clash between the Flames and Oilers in November filled with bone-crushing hits and nasty scrums.
The Edmonton/Calgary rivalry is heating up and the Lucic trade solidifies the Battle of Alberta as must-watch TV entering next season. Lucic made headlines last season when he went after Flames goaltender Mike Smith. Both players have switched teams and Smith is sure to want some revenge.
There are five Battles of Alberta’s on the 2019-20 NHL schedule. The Oilers will host the Flames on Dec. 27 and Jan. 29, while Calgary will play host to Edmonton on Jan. 11, Feb. 1 and April 4.
Buckle up because this rivalry is going to get even nastier.