Milan Lucic has long been one of the most physically dominant and intimidating players in the National Hockey League.
His game speaks for itself.
Unwavering competitiveness, devotion to his teammates, a unique offensive flair and a history of winning. In all, Lucic is one of the most valuable players in the game today, whose rare combination of size and skill combine to instill fear in his opponents.
However, come July 1st, 2016, Lucic is slated to become an unrestricted free agent, as his previous three-year, $18 Million contract which he signed as a member of the Boston Bruins will officially come to an end.
And, according to a report, despite the chances of him re-signing with the Los Angeles Kings remaining high, Lucic would seemingly welcome joining the Edmonton Oilers, if offered a contract.
In the latest segment of ‘Insider Trading‘, Pierre LeBrun stated his belief that Lucic would welcome a deal with the Oilers if he fails to reach an agreement with the Kings, although they do remain the overwhelming favourite in his contract talks.
I believe Lucic would be open and warm to the idea of an offer from his former GM Peter Chiarelli in Edmonton, but, right now, he wants to stay a King if they can get a deal done. – Peter Chiarelli
Lucic recently wrapped up a highly successful first season with the Kings after arriving via trade from the Bruins, scoring a solid 20 goals and 55 points over 81 games played. The two totals were both the fourth best of his nine-year career to date, with his 20 tally campaign his first since 2013-14.
As TSN’s James Duthie put quite simply:
The lure of playing potentially with the best future player in the World in Connor McDavid is enticing to Milan Lucic.
This begs the obvious question of how realistic Lucic coming to Edmonton truly is. If he was to sign with the Oilers, there is no doubt that he would instantly change the dynamic of Edmonton’s roster. He would provide an immediate upgrade in size, while his consistent, proven depth scoring would help ease the Oilers’ scoring woes.
In addition, Lucic would be a perfect fit on the Oilers’ wing, whether it came on the left or right side. He would have the opportunity to be centred by one of either Connor McDavid or Leon Draisaitl, positioning which would surely see his offensive totals increase, while he would also provide a sense of security to Edmonton’s rising young stars.
However, despite potentially being a great fit with the Oilers, the major question when it comes to securing Lucic’s services would be what kind of contract he would command as a free agent.
If, come July 1st, Lucic does in fact remain a free agent, he will undoubtedly be one the most highly sought after players on the open market, and as such will surely receive a contract of substantial financial term.
In his most recent contract, Lucic carried a cap hit of $6 Million, a total good for 47th best in the NHL in 2015-16 and 3rd highest on the Kings’ roster. With that being said, it’s highly likely that Lucic will receive a contract in the same ballpark financially, yet whether the Oilers would be willing to offer a long-term contract is another question entirely.
At the moment, the Oilers hold just over $10 Million in cap space going into the 2016-17 season, so adding Lucic at roughly $6 Million would be a possibility, however, doing so would come at the cost of choosing not to potentially add a defenseman through free agency, an area of need which has long been Edmonton’s achilles heel.
So, while adding Lucic would obviously be a significant upgrade to the Oilers’ current roster, and would position them well up-front for the coming season, Edmonton will need to decide whether adding a defender, or yet another forward, is more important to their immediate and future success.
Brett Slawson is a four-year veteran of The Hockey Writers who covers the Toronto Maple Leafs, NHL prospects, and the OHL’s Mississauga Steelheads.
Contact Brett on Twitter @brettslawson92, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.