Flames, Oilers swap struggling veterans as Neal goes north for Lucic

The Edmonton Oilers have dealt Milan Lucic to the Calgary Flames for fellow veteran forward James Neal.

Multiple media reports say the Oilers are retaining some of Lucic’s salary and will include a conditional draft pick.

Lucic had six goals and 14 assists with a minus-9 defensive rating over 79 games with the Oilers last season.

He signed a seven-year, $42-million US contract with Edmonton on July 1, 2016, but hasn’t lived up to that hefty price tag.

Neal had seven goals and 12 assists with a minus-5 rating in 63 games for Calgary last season.

Like Lucic, Neal was a big-name free agent signing for Calgary last summer but didn’t meet expectations after agreeing to a five-year, $28.75 million deal July 2, 2018.

His seven goals last season was the fewest he had scored in his 11 NHL seasons and he was a healthy scratch in Game 5 of the Flames’ opening-round loss to the Colorado Avalanche in this year’s playoffs.

“That was hard,” Neal said a few days after the Flames were eliminated. “I’ve never had to go through that in my career.

“I want to be a top-six guy who is counted on to score big goals and be an impact player. I’ve been like that my whole career.”

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