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Flames hit two birds with one stone with Lucic acquisition

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CALGARY – A nuclear deterrent for a nuclear bomb.

Two of the NHL’s biggest reclamation projects changed Alberta addresses Friday when the Calgary Flames acquired Milan Lucic from the Edmonton Oilers for James Neal.

The Oilers will retain some of Lucic’s lofty salary and send the Flames a conditional third-round draft pick.

It’s as creative as it is gutsy for both sides.

The Flames entered the summer with a wish list that included trying to get tougher and trying to rid themselves of the Neal deal.

They satisfied both in one fell, ugly swoop Friday.

Both players are 31 and have four years left on contracts considered to be amongst the biggest busts in the NHL.

Where they differ is what they bring… and what they’ll ultimately cost to buy out.

Neal, acquired last summer to be a 30-goal scorer, posted seven goals for the Flames this year, demonstrated no pushback and proved to be too slow for today’s game.

As it turned out, the Flames didn’t need goals, they needed someone who cared.

They needed to get him out of that dressing room.

Four more years of that at $5.75 million was an unbearable thought for Flames GM Brad Treliving, so he took drastic steps to correct his most egregious of mistakes.

Lucic’s three-year stay in Edmonton has been a struggle too, but the five-time 50-point man still has one thing in his arsenal the Flames need most – toughness.

Adding muscle to the lineup has been Treliving’s top priority for over a year, and few would disagree Lucic is the toughest guy in the NHL.

Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan and the rest of the Flames needed........

© Sportsnet