Milan Lucic could be a valuable piece to the Seattle Kraken’s roster if he is selected in the upcoming Expansion Draft. Although Lucic does have a no-move clause, he has agreed to waive and will become eligible for selection. Lucic’s time in Calgary has not been great, but since Daryl Sutter took over, his play has been improving. He still has value and therefore should be a consideration for the Expansion Draft.
Opportunity For Seattle
The player Seattle may go after in the Expansion Draft from Calgary is captain Mark Giordano. The Flames want Giordano back and may be willing to part with additional assets to keep him. Seattle could ask for draft picks or maybe a prospect like Matthews Phillips or Ilya Nikolayev so they select Lucic instead of Giordano. This method is the way Vegas was able to acquire players like Shea Theodore, Reilly Smith and Alex Tuch during the 2017 Expansion Draft. Seattle has a lot of leverage here and could use that to build up their prospect pipeline.
Strong Finish to the Season
Lucic as a player has been improving since Darryl Sutter took over on March 11. Before Sutter took over, Lucic played 26 games with the Flames this season. He registered nine points, had a plus/minus rating of -11 and was only playing an average of 12:51 TOI. Sutter has now coached Lucic in 25 games as of May 8, and you can already see evidence of improved play. During the 25 game span, Lucic has 11 points, is a plus-2 and is averaging 14:33 TOI.
Lucic has been given more responsibility and ice time under Sutter this season. He has had 15 of his top 20 TOI games this season under Sutter and has only had a minus rating six times in 25 games. These improved numbers show that Lucic is still capable of producing while not being a defensive liability. They also show that a change of scenery could help improve his play. Although Lucic did not change teams, a different coach and different game plan really helped Lucic produce the last half of the season. Although he may not be the player he once was, Lucic can still get you 20-25 points a season which makes him a valuable fourth liner.
Throughout his career, Lucic has been known for his physicality. At 6-foot-3 and 231 points, the former second-round pick can throw some huge hits and stand up for his teammates if necessary. He may not be throwing 250 hits a season anymore, but 134 hits in 51 games lead the Flames this season. He knows when to drop the gloves and can punish the other team based on size alone.
Seattle is coming into a division with some heavy hitters so having Lucic there to protect their star players may be a smart investment. Within the Pacific Division, you have players like Zack Kassian, Ryan Reeves, Nicolas Deslauriers and Matthew Tkachuk. You are going to need those tough players that don’t mind dropping the gloves to protect their teammates. Lucic has proven time and time again that he is willing to take on whoever in order to stand up for a teammate that has taken a bad hit. Whether that is through a fight or even a major hit, Lucic knows his role and plays it well.
The main issue with Lucic is his cap-hit. If Seattle takes him, it means taking on $6 million each of the next two seasons. As for real money owed, Seattle would be on the hook for $9 million total over the two seasons. He also does have modified no-move clause in the final two seasons that allows Lucic to submit a list of teams he can be traded to. His contract is not great but for a team that will need to ensure they get to the cap floor, it can be beneficial.
As mentioned early, the draw in taking on Lucic’s contract is the additional compensation. This is not a new concept in the NHL. Some other instances include Pavel Datsyuk’s contract to Arizona from Detroit, Patrick Marleau’s contract to Carolina from Toronto or Mikhail Grabovski to Vegas from The New York Islanders. All these trades resulted in prospects or picks being traded along with the contracts. The difference with Lucic however is that he would actually be playing for Seattle. There are benefits to taking on his contract and Seattle should explore.
A big part of Lucic’s draw is his leadership and experience. He has won the Stanley Cup and Memorial Cup and knows how to get through those long playoff runs. Lucic was also a big part of the 2012-13 Bruins that made it to the Stanley Cup Final but fell to Chicago. Lastly, he was an assistant captain in Edmonton during his three seasons with the Oilers.
Bringing Lucic into a locker room can be beneficial to the team. He is a player who never gives up, and is always there despite where the team is in the standings. He puts his body on the line night after night, and never backs down. A leader on and off the ice, Lucic can provide Seattle with valuable leadership skills in their first season.
A Great Selection
Some may point out that Lucic is slowing down, but he still has some value as a fourth-liner. He can still produce offensively, and has never dropped below a 50% CF% rating in his career. He also has longevity in the league as his 1009 NHL games rank him fourth overall from the 2006 NHL Draft Class. Lucic brings name recognition and a brand of hockey that will get the fans on their feet in Seattle. When The Kraken debate who to select from Calgary, Milan Lucic should be a player they seriously consider.
Adam is excited to be joining The Hockey Writers as part of the Seattle Kraken and Vancouver Canucks team. His work can also be found at area51sportsnet.com where he covers the Vancouver Giants of the Western Hockey League.