Bob McKenzie was on Vancouver’s TSN 1040 on Tuesday morning, and what turned into a question on where he saw Milan Lucic signing turned into a soliloquy on the increasing attraction of Edmonton to free agents.
“Well, certainly Edmonton is a primary consideration,” for Lucic, began McKenzie. “You know, it’s funny. Edmonton, historically, has been the non-starter for unrestricted free agency, and this is the impact of winning the draft lottery and getting Connor McDavid. Suddenly, even though the Oilers have been a tire fire for a decade, suddenly it’s a hot ticket for some players. And Connor McDavid is at top of the list why that would be.”
McDavid might be the obvious pro-Edmonton factor, but McKenzie shifted the focus to a different element coming online for the fall.
“The secondary reason: This new rink they’ve got is, by all accounts – I haven’t seen it myself, but I’ve talked to people they have – and they said that this thing takes ‘state of the art’ to another level,” relayed McKenzie. “And that when Drake Caggiula was going through and saw the rink, he was completely, totally, utterly blown away by the facilities and what they’ve got.”
The NHL Insider continued.
“So when you take Connor McDavid and you take the new rink and you take a guy like Bob Nicholson – who over his time as the executive director and the president of Hockey Canada, who knows a little somethin’ somethin’ about making presentations and how to sell yourself, having been involved with the International Ice Hockey Federation and the bid process for world juniors and Olympics and all sorts of things like that – you’ve got three factors there that suddenly make Edmonton maybe No. 1 most desirable location for a pending unrestricted free agent like Milan Lucic.
“So Vancouver has obviously got some cache too, with it being his hometown. So we’ll see where it goes from here. But I won’t be surprised if a lot of free agents want to gravitate towards Edmonton for the reasons I outlined above.”
A player like Lucic wanting to join any given team is one thing, but free agency in particular means the dollar value and term will always be critical factors.
“I think he was prepared to give the Kings a hometown discount, but I don’t think he was going to get the term that he wanted from the Kings, and I think that’s where it broke down,” said McKenzie.
“I think he will get that term on the open market, and because he understands the reality of ‘If I want to play in this particular place and they’ve got a cap issue and I need to help out on that front, I’m prepared…’
“I think he’s prepared to take the hometown discount to get where he wants to be. I call it the hometown discount, even though Edmonton is not his hometown (laughs) and neither was L.A., but you guys know what I mean. To give a discount to the team in order to facilitate them doing business.
“I think he’s probably prepared to do that to some degree, but I think he’s going to be looking for the term here. And I think a team like the Oilers are prepared to give him that, recognizing – and to your point, you’re absolutely right – they’ve got a whole fresh crop of entry-level guys that are going to create cap issues down the road in McDavid, and Puljujarvi, and Draisaitl.
“All that means is that might make the first wave core guys of Taylor Hall or Ryan Nugent-Hopkins or Jordan Eberle that much more expendable, and I think very much so that they are, in terms of their names being out there.”
Source: TSN 1040/ Transcript: Nichols