Milan Lucic celebrates a goal. (Photo via: Huffington Post)
By history, a Boston Bruin is an incredibly tough, physical, and skilled individual who can be feared by any team in the league. Milan Lucic had that role for in the last few seasons for Boston but hasn't been able to string together some consistency, especially this season. In a disappointing second year of his contract, Lucic has posted only 42 points (17G, 25A) over 75 games this season and may not even reach the 20 goal mark. It feels like Lucic has just been a shadow of himself since the 2011-12 season. Although there is still time for him to try and hit the 20 goal mark, he has far under-performed for the costly price tag of $6 million a year. Where are the body crunching hits into the glass? What happened to the train that used to run everything over in its path? This is not to say that he hasn't improved over the season, mainly with the emergence of David Pastrnak and Ryan Spooner. The main question in the end is whether or not it's worth the investment. After all, we have all seen the damage he can do when he is on his game.
The main thing that people do need to remember here is that even though Lucic isn't playing like a $6 million player doesn't mean he lacks the ability to be one. Lucic has a lot that he brings to the table and the team feeds off of his energy. When the Bruins won their fifth cup in 2011, Lucic was the emotional core of the team. This proved true yet again as Boston made its second Stanley Cup in three years with Lucic as the center piece of emotion. On top of his energy, he has the legs to move fast, pound the body, and simply beat the living hell out of people. Let's face it... It's hard to find a decent power forward in today's NHL. These qualities can't simply be overlooked. He has always had an all star center by his side in David Krejci and even had Nathan Horton on the right wing for a while, making one of the heaviest and skilled lines that Boston hadn’t seen in quite a long time. Lucic hasn’t had that consistency as of late in the line-mate department and this has definitely contributed to his below average play over the season. I believe that Puck Daddy's Greg Wyshynski asks the right question:
"Given his age, his style, the annual value of his next contract and his value on the trade market … would a trade that fundamentally changes the Bruins make sense?”
Peter Chiarelli has expressed his disappointment in Lucic's play all year long and even earlier in the year, the trade rumors swirled around the power forward. There have also been other rumors that only one team was interested in acquiring Lucic. I find that very difficult to believe given the amount of teams that would love to have a player like Looch. On top of all of these rumors, we must all remember that Lucic has a modified no-trade clause in his contract. The list of teams in that no trade clause are unknown and the details have not, and most likely, will not be released. Overall, the Bruins have quite a situation to deal with.
The best case scenario here is that Lucic ends up being traded and we clear $6 million in salary to dump into Torey Krug and Dougie Hamilton. You can get back one or two players in a deal and those players could fit well in the system. Worst case scenario? The Bruins trade away not only Lucic, but their identity as a franchise. You could be searching for a player to give you what Lucic originally did and find yourself stuck in a possible rebuild, not only searching for the right players, but your identity too.
This is a player that the Bruins need to think about for a while. A long while. Lucic has time on his side and can prove he is worth the big bucks if he can perform well in the playoffs(hopefully), as well as next season. He is far too valuable to just give up on, and again.. Do you want to fundamentally change who you are as a hockey organization? On top of being a voice in the locker room, Lucic is a franchise player and the embodiment of a Bruin who deserves one more opportunity to turn it around. The Bruins have to believe that Lucic can return to his status as one of the most feared players in the NHL, and so should the Boston fan base.