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Early returns on Neal-Lucic swap exactly what Oilers, Flames hoped

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Milan Lucic might have been the last person in Alberta to hear about James Neal’s four-goal shocker Tuesday night.

After all, while Edmonton Oilers fans were busy texting every Calgary Flames fan they knew, declaring early victory in their summer swap, Lucic was pounding away on the face of six-foot-five Los Angeles Kings defender Kurtis MacDermid.

Neal’s night powered the Oilers to a win on Long Island.

Lucic’s fists turned a 3-0 deficit into an emotional comeback thwarted by Drew Doughty in overtime.

One thing has been clear since the Flames and Oilers swapped problems this summer ⁠— Neal and Lucic will forever be inextricably linked.

Both former 30-goal men carry onerous contracts for the next four years while battling the reality they are post-apex in their careers.

Both were massive disappointments in their respective cities where disengagement, foot speed and father time appeared to be their biggest opponents.

The idea was that with new opportunity, could come new life, which is exactly what has come to fruition three games in.

One leads the NHL in goals (6); the other in penalty minutes (26) and fights (2).

Yes, it’s early.

But so far both have fit in exactly the way their new teams had hoped, leaving fans in their previous stops scratching their heads.

When told of Neal’s goal binge........

© Sportsnet