Should the Bruins trade Milan Lucic this off-season?
The Boston Bruins have a tough decision to make on Milan Lucic. Photo: Jim Rogash/Getty Images
I remember the first time I saw Milan Lucic in a Bruins uniform. It was back in his rookie year of 2007 and he was still wearing his old number 62. He came off a memorable junior hockey campaign with the Vancouver Giants where he led his team to a Memorial Cup as the team’s captain. He then earned a shot in the NHL right out of training camp. I could tell right away he was going to become one of my favorite players. He was big, he could fight, and he could score. He seemed like the perfect Bruin.
Fast forward to today and Milan Lucic has not become the person he was compared to as a Boston Bruin. That man is watching every game from the top floor of the TD Garden and he just fired long-time General Manager Peter Chiarelli after a very frustrating season.
On top of a search for a new GM, the Bruins have to make some tough roster decisions this off-season. Milan Lucic is one of those players. He will become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2015-2016 season and will garner attention across the league if he is not re-signed.
Lucic is 27 years-old and can be one of the most dominating players on the ice when he moves his feet and plays aggressively. That kind of player is very valuable to any team looking to have a power forward on one of their top offensive lines. The return for Lucic would have to be very high as he is a part of the Bruins’ core and the team’s identity as a tough team to play against. The Bruins would have to sell an interested team on Lucic’s potential and past performances rather than his most-recent lackluster season.
According to capgeek, Lucic’s current contract has him earning $6 million against the salary cap. Lucic did not earn his contract this year, but he has the ability to make a lot of money in this league at the top of his game. While he has not become Cam Neely, the Bruins are at their best when Lucic is heavily involved and engaged in the offense.
However, when asked about his down season, both Lucic and former GM Peter Chiarelli mentioned that the Vancouver native was not in the right mental state during the season. Lucic was quoted as saying he was still scarred from the loss to Montreal in the second round of the 2014 playoffs according to several media reports including Amalie Benjamin of the Boston Globe and Joe Haggerty of CSN New England. A change of scenery could be the answer to the questions many have of Lucic.
The Bruins have a decision to make on not just Lucic, but the identity and direction of this team. In his press conference yesterday, Bruins' president Cam Neely mentioned the loss of identity as a major component of the Bruins missing the playoffs for the first time since 2007. Neely also mentioned he wanted the Bruins to get back to their rough and tough style of previous seasons as that was when they had the most success.
Lucic can be the perfect player for that style of hockey. However his 2014-2015 season statistics and recent comments suggest he may not be that player anymore in Boston. Injuries to Lucic’s wrist and hands have caused him to shy away from the fights he became so famous for in Vancouver and Boston.
However, Lucic showed signs of his offensive potential when he skated with David Pastrnak and Ryan Spooner in the final months of the season. The young guns forced Lucic to move his feet and drive to the net. The results were very positive as Lucic notched ten points in fifteen games during the month of March. That may also help sell another team on a trade.
Whoever the new General Manager is, he will be responsible for getting maximum return on Lucic in a trade. That return would involve multiple players, including a legit NHL offensive talent, as well as higher round draft picks. The new GM would also have to deal with Lucic’s modified no-trade clause and high salary.
The decision for the Bruins comes down to this: What can they get for Lucic right now and do they risk keeping him knowing they most likely can’t afford to sign him if he has big year next season. The fireworks have just begun on this critical off-season for the black and gold and they cannot afford to make another big mistake.
Let us know what you think. Should the Bruins trade Milan Lucic?
Follow Kevin Clancy (@kevclance19) and all the staff at BruinsLife.com (@BruinsLife) for all of your Bruins coverage this off-season.