Twitter was abuzz Tuesday afternoon when reports surfaced that ex-Vancouver Giant and local hero-turned-villain Milan Lucic’s name had been floated in trade rumours involving the Vancouver Canucks.
Are these rumours credible? Would it make sense for Vancouver to do this? What would Lucic’s impact be on the Canucks? We’ll explore after the jump.
First and foremost, the source of the rumour. From ESPN’s John Buccigross:
— John Buccigross (@Buccigross) June 23, 2015
I’ll just get this out of the way right now so you can stop reading if you like and move on with your day, but there’s really nothing to support this rumour. No really big hitter like Bob McKenzie is linking the two parties in trade talks, and there’s no reason to believe a Lucic deal is even imminent.
The Canucks need to move a D-man, Lucic could be on the outs in Boston, but any connection between the Canucks and Lucic is pretty much just connecting the dots at this point, even if there are a lot of dots to connect. Yes Jim Benning had Lucic in Boston and reportedly loves his big meat-and-potatoes power forwards, but Lucic is making $6 million next season before becoming a UFA and both teams need to move salary out.
Vancouver needs to finish putting a full team together, and Boston has to get Dougie Hamilton under contract. Unless one of the teams can shed a bunch of salary first, it doesn’t seem likely that this will happen since a Bieksa-for-Lucic swap helps no one get 18 skaters on the ice on a nightly basis.
But now that we’ve established that this is unlikely to happen in the near future, let’s have some fun with it. Despite playing his entire professional hockey career in Boston, Lucic has a long and storied history with Vancouver. It began with a Memorial Cup championship with the Vancouver Giants, elevating him to a local hero and a fan favourite for Canucks and Giants fans alike.
(Aside: I was at the Memorial Cup Championship game, and that shift was the loudest I’ve ever heard a rink, and the most fun I’ve ever had at a hockey game.)
Then 2011, Do-You-Know-Who-I-Am gate, and a host of other stuff happened, souring the relationship between Vancouver and the big Bruins forward. You know the stories there, I’m sure.
As another funny layer to this rumour, a Lucic trade would put Lucic and Ryan Miller on the same team, which might make for an, umm, interesting team dynamic:
One wonders what implications this might have on keeping Eddie Lack in Vancouver too…
What if Lucic is what it takes to get Miller out? What if the Canucks have to keep Lack because Of Lucic? Is Lucic our saviour?
— Gráinny Hockey (@wholegrainne) June 23, 2015
In all seriousness though, Milan Lucic might actually be the perfect aging-Sedins linemate. While the Twins’ shot attempt metrics are still exceptional and lead to an elite defensive impact, the decline of Daniel’s scoring ability in particular is hampering their ability to generate goals at even strength.
— Rhys Jessop (@Thats_Offside) April 27, 2015
Lucic has demonstrated an ability to be a force in front of the net when he’s engaged, and has always carried a high individual shooting percentage. Daniel and Henrik at this point need a guy who can turn shots into goals since getting shots isn’t a problem. Alex Burrows hasn’t quite been that guy for the past two seasons. Daniel isn’t that guy anymore. Radim Vrbata has never been that guy at even strength. Milan Lucic is 9th in the NHL in Even Strength shooting percentage since 2010 at 13.8%, and 2nd among players with over 5,000 minutes of ES TOI.
While Lucic could conceivably help the Canucks and the fallout would undoubtedly be entertaining, I just don’t see Benning swinging this deal any time soon. Vancouver’s focus appears to be on shedding cap dollars and acquiring early to mid round draft picks right now, which is right where it should be.