Benning on Lucic: ‘we would definitely have interest in him’

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Photo Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea/USA TODAY Sports

BUFFALO – Jim Benning may not make a huge splash in the
National Hockey League draft this weekend, but the Vancouver Canucks general
manager certainly created some waves on Thursday. Benning left no doubt about his interest in pending
unrestricted free agent Milan Lucic when the bruising forward becomes available on July 1st.

Speaking to reporters at the team’s hotel headquarters in
suburban Buffalo, Benning didn’t mince words when he was asked if Lucic was
going to be one of his free agent targets a week from now.

“Yeah, he’d be a guy we’d have interest in,” Benning confirmed.
“He’s from Vancouver. He’s been a good player in the league for a long time. He’s
a unique player – a power forward, so we would definitely have interest in him.”

Lucic and the Los Angeles Kings have been unable to come to
terms on an extension for the 28-year-old who scored 20 goals and added 35
assists to go along with 79 penalty minutes in his first season in Southern
California after being acquired by the Kings at last year’s draft. Lucic
struggled to score and registered just three points – all assists — in the
Kings first round playoff exit to rival San Jose.

The former Vancouver Giant has reached the 20-goal mark four
times in his nine NHL seasons – scoring a career-high 30 in 2010-11 when he
helped the Bruins win the Stanley Cup.

L-A general manager Dean Lombardi has given Lucic and his
camp permission to start speaking to other NHL clubs ahead of the official
opening of free agent courting which begins on Monday. However, Benning says
the Canucks have yet to reach out.

“Not yet,” he says.  “We’re
going to get through the draft. We’ve got a lot going on here the next couple
of days with the draft. We’re going to get this figured out. Then when we get
back on Sunday we’ll start in on free agency.”

The Canucks have already made decisions on three of their
own players on expiring contracts. Benning admitted that Radim Vrbata, Matt
Bartkowski and Yannick Weber have all been told they won’t be back and have
been instructed to explore the open market.

“We’ve talked to them and their agents and we’re not going
to resign,” Benning said.

As for tendering restricted free agent Linden Vey a qualifying
offer, Benning indicated what happens on the draft floor over the next few days
may impact the club’s decision.

“We’re going to get through the weekend and see what happens
here tradewise the next couple of days,” he said.  “We’ll decide on him on Monday.”

      • detox

        I wouldn’t be against overpaying for a shorter term… but yeah, keep it under 7 and for 4 years. maybe that is a pipe dream on my part, but I don’t want to see these long contracts for depreciating assets.

    • Whackanuck

      Even if Lucic declines eventually, it will probably put an end to the cheap Shots the Sedins endure leading to injuries.
      Adding a year to each Sedin’s career would probably offset the expected decline of Lucic that is largely based only on opinion. Ericksson. on the other hand, has had concussion injuries and Okposo has missed significant time to injuries but yet they seem desirable because of nebulous “class”. Nobody has ever said Lucic is a bad teammate.

      Trash away. I’d enjoy a badass on the Canucks for once.

  • Hockey Warrior

    The ONLY Vancouver ‘hockey fans’ who don’t want East Van Milan as an Orca are bitter idiots who are still sucking sour grapes over the Boston SC humiliation and those he refused an autograph outside vatious Gastown pubs.

    Looch is a PROVEN WINNER, an on-ice beast, a superstar and a LOCAL HERO… bring him home Benning and let’s get back on track by opening that creaking WINDOW again…

    • detox

      Lucic is going to want 5-6 mil per year for five years. He’s maybe worth 3-4 mil right now. Three years from now he’ll be an overpaid bum at 3-4 mil. I like the guy, I just don’t think he is worth what he will be asking.

    • Mattchu

      I don’t know if “LOCAL HERO” is a tag that still goes with him. I remember a few years ago Lucic was out after a game in Van and got in a fist fight with a fan because he was being heckled by a group.. also within that time period his parent’s house was vandalized. He made a statement about the fans and how when he plays in Van in the future he wouldn’t go anywhere but the airport, hotel and arena. This was a while ago, and he may not mean it anymore, and the fans may have forgotten the SCF, but still…

      No point in even taking a chance on this guy.

      He also does not come close to a “superstar” rating. I don’t see him being grouped with players like Crosby, Kane, Ovie, or Benn and Seguin.

      • Rolland

        Kane, Crosby and Ovechkin are in the 9-10+ million range and that is where Benn and Sequin will get to with their next contract, so your comparison with Lucic is off the mark. Have a look at players in the 6-7 range, there is at least 20. Lucia’s ask is not necessarily off the mark. Depends on how you project his play over the next 4-6 years.

  • JuiceBox

    The thought of committing 6/42 to this guy makes me sick. The Canucks will have a bunch of RFA’s to retain in the coming years and committing 7.0M/yr to Lucic has the potential to hamstring them as soon as next year when Gudbransons’ contract is up.

    I’d be alright if it was a 4/20 deal, anything more in term or $$ will prove to be a mistake.

    • detox

      4 years at 5mil per would be a great signing, but the rumour out there with his LA negotiations was he was looking for Brown money… Brown’s cap hit is 5.875

  • TrueBlue

    I hope Jimbo is only talking of an interest in Lucic to raise the price tag so that another team will over pay in term and money. We don’t need the hunchback because his foot speed is trending in the opposite direction compared to today’s game and is bound to get worse.

  • detox

    Lucic’s last contract (as an RFA) was 3 x 6 AAV with an actual salary last year of 6.5million in his pocket. He’s a UFA now, clearly, and having just turned 28, he’s relatively on the young side for players looking to land their first big contract on the open market.

    Anyone thinking Lucic is going to take a pay cut from even his current salary is going to be in for a big surprise July 1st, let alone these numbers being thrown around of 4 or 5 years at 5 million. I’m guessing, like @JuiceBox indicated above, he’s going to land somewhere in the range of 5-7 years at 7 million on the shorter term end, maybe 6 million AAV for a longer contract.

    I just hope Vancouver isn’t the team that pays him.

  • Reid755

    I really hope we do not sign him. Has nothing to do with his past. I just do not see him as being worth the dollars and term he’s expecting. Someone is going to sign for “stupid money”. Unless he pushes them over the hump and they win the Cup in the next 2-3 years, they will likely be regretting his contract in the back have of its term. Since it’s unlikely the Canucks are going to be competing for the Cup in next 2-3 years, it does not make a lot of sense for them to sign him.

  • Reid755

    I think the only silver lining here would be if the Canucks do sign Lucic does that make Dorsett redundant? Not a huge Lucic fan but I’d rather take a declining power forward for ridiculous money (thanks July 1st) over 3 more years of Dorsett.

    • TrueBlue

      Unfortunately, making a player redundant and getting rid of his contract aren’t the same thing in today’s NHL.

      Trading 3 yrs of Dorsett’s services at $2.65 mill per yr might not be easy-the receiving team may not see positive value in his contract and if not would ask for something more for taking Vancouver’s cap dump.

      Canucks could get lucky and find someone who thinks that contract has positive value who would take it either in trade or on waivers. Waiving him and sending him to the minors is unlikely and would still leave Canucks with a $1.7 mill cap hit for 3 seasons.

      They could get lucky and have him on his way to Las Vegas a year from now.

      Or the Canucks could buy him out (though there is a limit on number of buyouts) or just keep him on the roster and pay him.

      How would we feel about the Canucks paying Dorsett as well as Lucic?

      In case it isn’t obvious, I agree with the majority of the commenters who think Lucic’s value in the marketplace, especially the term he’ll probably receive, is more than the Canucks should be willing to commit to him. He’ll get his big contract, but I hope it’s some other team paying it.

  • Foximus

    If we take Lucic we’ll be regretting it big time in 3-4 yrs. Especially at the $ he’ll be expecting.

    I still believe Loui Eriksson is a much better get. Should cost less too. And he’s a more well rounded player. I think he’ll be a better mentor to the kids coming up.

  • Rolland

    Homeboy or not it will be too much money for a diminishing return, I won’t even get into his sportsmanship and petulant behavior when someone lays a finger on him.
    There are better options with tons more class.

  • Foximus

    I hope we don’t land Lucic – it will be an over payment for an aging power forward – a short term sure but if he was willing to sign a short term he would have already signed in LA. He is looking for six plus years – we don’t need another Lou type contract.

    no thanks.

  • Bud Poile

    For folks who think Lucic will abruptly slow down, I think you should look at backes as a comp. he is 32, just came off a solid season and he looks like he has at a minimum another two good years in him.

    if we sign Lucic for 6 years – taking him to 34 yrs old – I don’t see a dramatic decline happening. And please, 34 is not old given the incentive for players to keep playing at a high level.

  • TrueBlue

    Would much prefer Okposo (or both! However unlikely that would be), but I’ll take him in a pinch. Seems almost inevitable at this point that we’re going to make a push for a few peeps, and I would prefer Lucic over Ericksson.

    So… I know that Lombardi has given permission to teams to speak to Lucic, but isn’t saying we want him still tampering? I hope Benning starts locking this down a little tighter, don’t need to get hit with any sanctions.

  • LTFan

    First of all I think Lucic is a good player and would help the Canucks in the near term. However the money he would want and the length of the contract – too expensive. Also as the game is somewhat faster now, Lucic would have trouble keeping up. So like many others on here I say NO to pursuing Lucic as a Canuck.

  • Fred-65

    Although he has had a checkered relationship with miller and a few others on the team, I think that these guys make enough cash to be professional and get over the past. Plus once he starts doing what he does for us as opposed to against us he’ll quickly change from “that dbag” to “our dbag”.
    If reasonable price and term, better to play with him than against him.

  • Fred-65

    Hey I am all in for signing this beast Lucic as long as we let Dorsett and Hammy go there is his salary paid in full.

    ASnd this improves our team size,courage and he can still score goals!