Milan Lucic recently did general manager Brad Treliving and the Calgary Flames a huge favour, agreeing to waive his no-movement clause ahead of the Seattle Kraken expansion draft. Now, the Flames will not be forced to protect him and can instead protect a younger and/or more valuable player.
Since he was acquired from the Edmonton Oilers during the 2019 offseason, Flames fans have grown to appreciate Lucic and the compete level he brings each game. Unfortunately, however, his contract pays him to produce points, something he has struggled with in recent years.
He still has two years remaining on his deal with a cap hit of $5.25 million, which has many believing the Kraken will choose not to select him. While that may be the case, the 32-year-old, despite his contract, still has value. Here are some reasons Seattle should consider selecting him.
Experience & Leadership
The Vegas Golden Knights became an immediate contender when they entered the league, but that is not the norm despite a favourable expansion format. More likely than not, the Kraken will struggle in 2021-22, and it will be important that their young players not be discouraged. Lucic, who appeared in his 1000th game earlier this season, has been around the league for a long time and would be a good mentor.
Even better, if the Kraken surprise us and are competitive, Lucic will provide wisdom as a Cup champion with the Boston Bruins in 2011. With a long career that includes 124 postseason games, he would have already earned the respect of the Kraken dressing room.
The Vegas Golden Knights understood the importance of adding veterans and selected another Flame, Deryk Engelland, in the expansion draft. The defenceman spent three seasons in Vegas as an assistant captain. Lucic, who wore an “A” during his time with the Edmonton Oilers, would be a great candidate to have a letter on his jersey in Seattle.
While Lucic isn’t the same dominant power forward he was in Boston, he can still fight and throw his body around as well as anyone in the league. He had four fights this season and is averaging 11.17 hits per game. His 137 hits lead all Flames skaters.
Though fighting isn’t as common as it used to be, having a player who can protect your team’s stars is valuable. Look at the Washington Capitals’ Tom Wilson, considered one of the toughest players in the league, who roughed up Artemi Panarin and Pavel Buchnevich of the New York Rangers because he knew they had no one to answer for it. If the Rangers had Lucic on their roster, Wilson might have thought twice before taking on Panarin.
Many fans around the league despise Lucic. Of course, that is good news for his team because it means he can be a pest and put up points. But given the decrease in scoring and physical play, Lucic’s reputation has improved around the league.
Among active players, Lucic sits 28th in games played with 1,012, and will likely be the only player on the Kraken with over 1,000 games. He also grew up just a few hours north in Vancouver, which could make him a fan favorite early on and would boost the Kraken from a marketing perspective.
Bonus for the Flames
There are many reasons the Kraken may avoid taking Lucic. However, if they struggle, would paying his contract for just two seasons be that bad? The positives here outweigh the negatives, and perhaps GM Ron Francis will be happy to have Lucic on his club.
Most Flames fans would be sorry to see him go, however, the Flames have a ton of talent on their roster and may be able to contend next season. If Seattle selects Lucic, the Flames would find themselves with $5.25 million in cap space that they could use to improve the roster. While it would sad to see him leave Calgary, it would also be the best-case scenario for the team.