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Lucic traded to Flames by Oilers for Neal

Calgary, Edmonton swap 31-year-old forwards each with four years left on contract

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Oilers trade Lucic for Neal

Oilers trade Milan Lucic to the Flames for James Neal

The Oilers trade Milan Lucic and a conditional third-round pick in the 2020 NHL Draft to the Flames for James Neal

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Milan Lucic was traded to the Calgary Flames by the Edmonton Oilers for James Neal on Friday.

"In order for me to move on from Edmonton it was important to go to a contending team, a team that was playing meaningful hockey on a night-to-night basis,'' Lucic told the Flames website. "Throughout my career that's brought out the best in me and in my game. ... Missing the [Stanley Cup Playoffs] three of the last four years ... I don't want to do that anymore. As I said, I want to be playing meaningful hockey on a night-to-night basis, and with the excitement and energy I can bring, I think this will revitalize me and help this team take the next step."

Calgary also receives a conditional third-round pick in the 2020 NHL Draft.

 

[RELATED: Lucic agreed to trade to Flames after talking to Iginla | NHL Trade Tracker]

 

"(Calgary general manager) Brad Treliving and I talked about this leading into the [2019 NHL Draft], in June sometime," Edmonton general manager Ken Holland said. "All trades are difficult. Some trades, you talk and talk and talk and ultimately you get to a point where you find a solution. Certainly the reason these guys got these contracts is that they've been really good players, and they've got to these teams and then they haven't performed at the level they did prior to that." 

Lucic, a 31-year-old forward, had 20 points (six goals, 14 assists) in 79 games last season. His six goals were the fewest he has scored in 12 NHL seasons and his 20 points tied his fewest.

"It made sense for us because I think we've added a different type of player to our mix," Treliving said. "At the end of the day, you hope it works out for everybody. I think both guys were probably in a situation where they could benefit from a change in scenery. In Milan's case, it probably hasn't gone perfect for him for the last couple years. In having the chance to talk to him over the last 24 hours, 48 hours, what I take out of it is a motivated guy. We're thinking a change of scenery, a new energy, a new surrounding is going to light that fire with him."

Video: Rupp discusses Lucic being traded for Neal

Lucic has four seasons remaining on a seven-year contract he signed with the Oilers on July 1, 2016, under general manager Peter Chiarelli, who was previously GM of the Bruins.

"When I arrived in Edmonton three years ago I was really excited, believe me," Lucic said. "I wanted it to work, so badly, but, in retrospect, maybe I put too much on my plate. Looking back now, I think I put too much pressure on myself, trying to be this ... guy, this leader, this player, this power forward, this big presence off the ice. All this type of stuff.

"I didn't feel like myself at all. ... I'm not blaming anyone there for that, whatsoever. I just bit off more than I could chew. And I think in this situation I can just be myself. Just go about my business, play my game, play hard, be physical, be a good teammate. That was definitely one of the things really appealing for me."

Neal had 19 points (seven goals, 12 assists) in 63 games in the first season of a five-year contract he signed with Calgary on July 2, 2018. The 31-year-old forward did not have a point in four playoff games against the Colorado Avalanche and was scratched from Game 5, which the Flames lost 5-1 to end their season.

"Both players have had really good careers, and James Neal obviously had a tough year last year in Calgary and Milan's probably had a tough couple of years in Edmonton," Holland said. "So I think they both made somewhat similar cap numbers, and certainly contract structure was a factor in us trying to find a solution."

Holland confirmed that the Oilers are retaining 12.5 percent of Lucic's $6 million annual NHL salary cap charge ($750,000). Neal's contract has an average annual value of $5.75 million.

Edmonton will be Neal's fourth team in four seasons (Nashville Predators, Vegas Golden Knights, Calgary).

"He'd be the first to tell you it didn't go great for him here," Treliving said of Neal. "He's still a real good player. He's been a real good player in this league for a long time. I think he'll continue to be a good player. Sometimes it's just not the right fit. At that particular time, you have to make decisions. Do you see it changing? Do you see it getting better, or do you think a change is the best for everybody? At the end of the day, that's what I felt, is that we need to make a change. My hope is that it's going to benefit everybody. We're most concerned about what happens here in Calgary. There's a lot of responsibility taken. It starts with me for why it didn't work. Now we move on and close that chapter and move forward."

Neal scored seven goals last season, the first time in his 11 NHL seasons he failed to score at least 20. Selected by the Dallas Stars in the second round (No. 33) of the 2005 NHL Draft, he has 514 points (270 goals, 244 assists) in 766 games with the Flames, Vegas Golden Knights, Nashville Predators, Pittsburgh Penguins and Stars.

"James Neal's a guy who scored 20-plus goals a year for 10 years and had a tough year," Holland said. "So we're hoping with our center-ice men and more ice time that he can bounce back."

Video: CGY@LAK: Neal beats Quick early in 3rd

Lucic, who had to agree to be traded, said he spoke to former Boston Bruins teammate Jarome Iginla, who played 16 seasons for the Flames.

"I had a really good talk with Jarome," Lucic said. "He told me what a great hockey town Calgary is, how much the people are behind the Flames. It's a fan base that loves seeing effort. They obviously want to win, but regardless, they love the heart-and-soul guys, the guys who give their all, who don't compromise, which I like to think speaks to the way I play. …

"I like to think he knows me pretty well and that's why he took time out of his day to give me a call and help me with my decision. And he did help me make up my mind. I'm just grateful that I'm friends with one of the guys who I idolize most and that now I get to play for the team that he was most famous playing for."

This is the third trade involving players between the provincial rivals since Edmonton joined the NHL for the 1979-80 season.

On March 3, 2010, the Flames acquired defenseman Steve Staios for defenseman Aaron Johnson and a third-round pick in the 2011 NHL Draft.

On Nov. 8, 2013, the Oilers acquired goalie Laurent Broissoit and forward Roman Horak for goalie Olivier Roy and defenseman Ladislav Smid.

This offseason, goalie Mike Smith left Calgary to sign with Edmonton as a free agent, and goalie Cam Talbot, who played four seasons for the Oilers before being traded to the Philadelphia Flyers on Feb. 15, signed with the Flames.

"We haven't seen trades too often between us and Edmonton, so I'm sure guys on both sides are going to want to have big nights against their old teams," Calgary captain Mark Giordano told the Flames website. "It's going to add to the rivalry.

"It's always bittersweet when you see guys switching sides, leaving your team. [Neal] and [Smith] were good buddies, but Milan and Cam coming in, they're going to provide a spark. They're going to feel reenergized, looking for a fresh start."

A five-time 20-goal scorer, Lucic has 501 points (198 goals, 303 assists) in 890 games with the Oilers, Los Angeles Kings and Bruins. Selected in the second round (No. 50) of the 2006 NHL Draft, he won the Stanley Cup with Boston in 2011.

"Playing against him, you know he's a really fierce competitor," Giordano said. "He's a good leader, too, a guy who has won, who has been there and done it before. Everyone around the League knows how tough he is and that grittiness he can bring into your lineup.

"He's a guy that a lot of the players in the League, including myself, respect, and I think he's going to be a nice fit into our team. It will be nice to have him on our side of the ice now."

NHL.com staff writer Tim Campbell and correspondent Aaron Vickers contributed to this report

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