When it was announced last week that talks between Milan Lucic and the Los Angeles Kings broke down, many teams around the NHL looking for size up front and scoring cackled with glee.
Listed as the #2 free agent available by the USA Today’s Kevin Allen, Lucic is a hard nosed forward known for his scoring prowess, and ability to irritate on the ice. Traded to the Kings prior to the 2015-16 season, Lucic had 55 points (20-35) in a 81 games, an improvement from the 44 points (18-26) he had a season’s prior in Boston. Lucic has been a 20+ goal scorer four times in his career. Last season, Lucic averaged .68 points/game
Lucic’s landing spot is anyone’s guess, though most pundits believe he’ll be tempted to go back to his hometown Vancouver where he saw tremendous success in junior hockey. The National Post reports that if Lucic were to take a discount, he would still be in Los Angeles, so the Canucks should be expected to pay a higher price for Lucic to come home. Canucks GM Jim Benning also indicated to the Vancouver Sun that he would be making a run at Lucic. The Bruins have expressed their desire to make calls on significant free agents–which would include Lucic. Lucic had a number of great seasons with the B’s, and there is certainly more than enough cap room to get a deal done. However as CBS Boston’s Matt Kalman writes, the Bruins dealt Lucic away because of salary cap concerns, inconsistency, and a style of play that breaks the body down sooner. Though Lucic wasn’t specifically named as someone spoken with, Detroit Red Wings general manager Ken Holland had conversations Monday with several prominent free agent targets writes Helene St. James. Lucic would be a rugged, scoring option who could help the Red Wings scoring woes. Darren Dreger tweeted that Lucic was on the Red Wings “want” list.
Finally, Scott Burnside listed the Edmonton Oilers as another potential team because of Lucic’s relationship with current Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli, who oversaw the Bruins during Lucic’s tenure with the team. Pierre LeBrun tweeted that Lucic was scheduled to meet with Edmonton officials today and wrote more about the possibility of Edmonton snagging the winger.
PHR has Lucic as the #3 free agent available, fetching a 5 year/$28.75MM deal by someone in the marketplace. PHR had him re-signing with Los Angeles, but talks broke down last week. Jim Matheson recently tweeted that the Oilers could offer upwards to $6MM/year and that it would force a trade of another forward currently on the roster. Ryan Rishaug agrees, thinking that a Lucic deal shuttles a forward to another team, possibly Taylor Hall.
If Edmonton is looking at a long term deal around $6MM, it will be interesting to see if other teams are willing to offer the same amount. Expect a deal somewhere between that $5.5MM-$6MM range.