Are the Vancouver Canucks Out of the Running for Milan Lucic?

The Vancouver Canucks need goal scoring, want size and have to address dwindling fan interest. So it makes sense that they’d have some level of interest in adding a player like Milan Lucic.

Since joining the league in 2007-08, Lucic has averaged 50 points and 108 penalties in minutes per 82 games. To put that in context, only 17 other players in the entire NHL have matched that level of production and pugnacity in a single season over that span. He is, in a sense, the prototypical power forward. And he just happens to hail from East Vancouver.

It’s an enticing package that checks off every box this franchise could look for in a free agent. And Canucks General Manager Jim Benning is sold. He’s expressed as much to the public and apparently wine and dined Lucic to send the message directly, too. If yesterday’s reports are any indication though, Benning isn’t alone in this regard. Not even in this division. It appears as though the Edmonton Oilers are putting the full court press on Lucic and making serious headway.

Before we delve into the specifics of the Oilers courting process, it should be noted that their interest is hardly new and by no stretch of the imagination tire-kicking. Their interest is every bit as real as the Canucks. So too is their need. For all their high-octane offensive forwards, the Oilers — like many a team — lack so physically imposing a player as Lucic to insulate them.

In an attempt to secure his services, the Oilers hosted Lucic (and Jason Demers) for a tour of Edmonton and their new arena, Rogers Place. By all accounts, the meeting went swimmingly; by some, it was the icing on the cake for Lucic, who’d already been leaning towards signing with the Oilers.

I’d like to think that report is a little premature. Firstly, teams can’t even discuss dollars and term right now. They’re supposed to be selling them on the merits of their franchise, not buying years of the player’s service. Then again, it would be wholly naive to think that, at the very least, teams aren’t discussing the framework in many of these instances.

If this tweet from Daily Hives Rob William’s is any indication, though, there might be fire to Curtis Stock’s fire.

Assuming the validity of these reports, it’s not hard to believe that, when given the option, a player would choose the Oilers over the Canucks. Whereas the Oilers pool of young talent is unrivalled by any in the league and includes a generational player in Connor McDavid, the Canucks best players are in their late-thirties and there isn’t any semblance of a succession plan within their system. 

Ominous in more ways than one, indeed. Although, this could just be the precursor to a massive counter-offer from Pat Quinn Way. Especially if this quote from Jason Botchford from just a few short days ago holds any weight. I mean, money talks. Never underestimate that much.

I can’t profess to having any amount insider knowledge of the situation, but I get the sense it remains more fluid than anyone’s giving it credit. We’re barely into the third day of the courting process and we’re talking about decisions that will impact the next five-plus years of these player’s lives. And it doesn’t sound like Lucic is ready to take the plunge. Not yet.