Did Edmonton Oilers really win the Lucic-for-Neal trade? One year out, some sober second thought


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Bottom line, the Flames came out of the exchange with three wins on paper: big savings in real dollars, cap savings based on the retained salary, and the draft pick. The Oilers on the other hand wound up with the better player.

Or did they?

Interesting in retrospect to compare the performance of the two players over the course of the season. Neal’s production was largely on the powerplay (12 goals), with an additional 2 scored 6v5. Lucic scored 5 of his own 8 goals on the powerplay.

But at even strength, there was precious little to choose between them. This from NaturalStatTrick‘s nifty player comparison tool, starting with raw counts at 5v5:

This is just the first part of a very long comparison which includes a huge number of stats, be they fancy, real-time, or simply counting stats as largely shown here. Both players logged 700+ minutes at 5v5, Neal with 2 more goals, Lucic 1 more point. The suppressed part of the list shows Lucic with more penalties both drawn and taken, more than twice as many hits, and more giveaways. But in the major areas there simply isn’t that much to choose between them.

The same selection of categories presented as rate stats show Neal at 0.43 goals per 60 to Lucic’s 0.23, but the two were virtually tied at 0.94 to 0.93 points per 60. Both were below hockey’s “Mendoza Line” of 1.0 points per hour of 5v5 hockey.

Turning to how their teams performed while they were on-ice:

Both teams were virtually dead even in shot attempts (both Corsi and Fenwick) with the respective players on the ice, while the Flames had the better share of shots on goal. The big difference was in actual goals, where the Oilers allowed 10 more counters than they scored on Neal’s watch, while the Flames were 2 to the good with Lucic on the ice at 5v5. Expected goals at bottom show a much narrower difference, but again (slight) advantage Flames.

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