The Vancouver Canucks Aren’t Getting Milan Lucic, and That Kind of Sucks

The Edmonton Oilers blockbuster trade of Taylor Hall for Adam Larsson signals how certain they are of their ability to land Milan Lucic in free agency. At the very least it bolsters the validity on a multitude of reports that already suggested as much.

You don’t just trade one of the league’s best two-way wingers, on a team friendly contract, without a contingency plan. And colour me unconvinced that Benoit Pouliot is that plan. The writings on the wall. Within a few days we’ll be able to make it out in dollars and years.

That’s a tough pill to swallow for the Vancouver Canucks, who’ve stomached more than their fair share of bad news of late. Lucic was Plan A. It didn’t take a well-placed contact to figure out that much. It’s back to the drawing board on Pat Quinn Way, and we’re not even a day into free agency.

Vancouver couldn’t be happier, though. It’s as if the looming threat of an exorbitant Lucic contract was the one binding issue every Canucks fan could agree on. Whether you want a rebuild or a rebuild on the fly, you more often than not didn’t want Lucic to figure heavily in those plans.

A sentiment that makes sense on the surface. Lucic, after all, was a key member of the Boston Bruins club that defeated the Canucks in 2011 for the Stanley Cup. In Vancouver. And if that wasn’t enough, Lucic twisted the dagger in his hometown’s heart when he remarked that “I have no reason left to try and defend my city, and the people of my city” after getting into an altercation on the Granville Strip. 

Beyond that, hockey fans in this city, who I’d consider among the league’s most forward thinking, know the inherent risk involved with signing players that play the way Lucic plays. It makes intuitive sense that physical players were age poorer than their placid peers. But it was Vancouver-based blogger, and Canucks Army alumni, Cam Lawrence who ran this theory through the scientific method to prove it.

And while I wouldn’t be so brazen as to brush those concerns aside, they’re likely overstated. Lucic might’ve had disparaging remarks for the city he grew up calling home at one point, but he’s said since “I want to make it clear that regardless of what has happened, I am still — and always will be — proud to be from there [Vancouver]. It is home”. 

He’s also among the younger in this free agent class, at a very young 28-years-old — he turned 28 three weeks ago. With the Tampa Bay Lightning locking Steven Stamkos in for the next eight seasons, that makes Lucic probably the youngest member of the top tier free agents. It’s not like we’re talking about a player in their mid-thirties.

So when we are talking about Lucic and the concerns associated with investing in years five, six or even seven on his contract, it should be noted that he’ll finish his next contract no older than 34. Though his skills will diminish over that span — of this much, you can be certain — I can’t see them atrophying to the point where he’s a replacement level player.

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The thing is, there is so very far for Lucic to fall. That’s because he’s a first line talent and it’s not really up for debate. He’s very likely the best winger in this year’s free agent class.

For the Canucks, who aren’t ready to even entertain the possibility of an extended rebuild, that carries immense value. Which I think touches upon the real issue at the crux of the Lucic non-interest. Lucic is seen as a hoop the Canucks have to clear to get their re-tool into second-gear. If they can’t secure Lucic, they’re just one step closer to carrying out the rebuild this fan base is so desperately clamouring for.

That’s just not the case, though. The Canucks have a Plan B and he’s turning 31 this summer. If the Canucks can’t secure Lucic, that puts Loui Eriksson right in their crosshairs. And should they fall short on Eriksson, they’re liable to dig even deeper into the free agent market until they find their fix.

Lucic is likely the Canucks best opportunity to reap short-term bang for their buck and I’d like to think given his age that he has a considerably better chance of contributing to the long-term health of this organization than some of the alternatives. He’s also the exact type of player the Sedin twins need at this stage of their career. Former Canucks Army Managing Editor Rhys Jessop had this to say on the fit…

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.

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.

You can not like Milan Lucic the person; similarly, you’re well within your right to fear Milan Lucic the albatross on the Canucks necks in years six or seven of any presumptive deal. But there’s no denying that Milan Lucic is a player the Canucks very definitely need to execute their plans for next season — whether that plan is sensible or otherwise. And losing out on Lucic might mean a similar investment in a lesser product. That’s the real travesty.

  • bigdaddykane

    JD, make up your mind. You spent the entire off-season till this date ranting about how Lucic signing here would be a terrible move because he’ll command money+term yet is already in your words on the decline production and fancy stats-wise. Now that he’s assuredly a Coiler, you think his spurning of Vancouver sucks? I’m confused. Are you implying the alternative like an Ericsson or Brower is even worse? I don’t get your angle on many topics but this one is even more confusing. Make up your mind, son.

    • Pat Quinn Way

      JD has been saying that the Canucks should not go for a big name FA and rebuild. Maybe add a few reclamation projects in the meantime. However, it’s clear that’s not happening, so JD is saying that if we’re gonna sign someone Lucic is probably the best option.

      I don’t agree that Lucic would be a good fit with the Sedins 5 on 5. They need someone with speed to get something going on the forcheck. Though he could maybe help the PP, and I wouldn’t mind seeing him with Horvat and Bae.

      • bigdaddykane

        I get what JD is saying. Im just pointing out that he has been complaining loudly and bitterly about this interest in Lucic by Benning for about a decade and now that it isn’t going to happen hes complaining that it isn’t going to happen. I find JD to be grating in his comments and inconsistent. He also comes across as an Anti-Benning blogger which is fine but if I wanted “Benning sucks” in a site that is all things canucks id simply read the comments section on any article rather than the article itself. I dont mind criticism of the management but it should be objective and not simply “he’s dumb.” I don’t agree with all of JBs moves either but I think this one sided hackfest by the managing editor of CA is getting old

  • Bud Poile

    It was entirely the choice of Milan so he will forever suck as defined by his ignorance.

    He made his choice to inflate his stats with Mc Jesus instead of forever altering his position of disrespect and ignorance towards his home town.

  • Charlie Allnut

    Lucic is highly over rated. Better to get with the new style of successful play in the NHL, speed with tenacity, intelligence, durability, and skill (see Penguins.) Besides that, having Lucic on the Canucks smells too much like the Messier misery blunder for some reason, to me. A guy with dubious respect for the team and it’s members. Lucic is a twins-hater I believe. All you twin-haters out there can go to the planet Ignoramus where you belong.

  • TheRealPB

    I agree with the earlier JD that said it is a terrible investment to put your money into a (rapidly) aging PF. I don’t care what his history is, I just don’t think it’s wise to put all that investment into a player that ranked 64th in the league for total points and 92nd in goals (on 16% shooting no less). I’m sure he’ll have great stats next to McJesus and he was definitely helped by line mates in LA — not so much in his last seasons in Boston though when despite being younger he had far worse of a supporting cast.

    There’s the hype of being the top FA out there and then there’s the reality — I’d much prefer Ladd, Okposo or especially Eriksson on a shorter deal.

  • Spiel

    I still will believe it when I see it when it comes to Lucic signing in Edmonton.

    Saying you like a team when you are on a visit is completely different from putting pen to paper. We don’t know what other possibilities are going to be put in front of the Lucic family before tomorrow. And, yes it is a family decision. Ever heard of “happy wife, happy life”?

    People who like Lucic in Vancouver blame the Canucks for not drafting him. That’s not Lucic’s fault. Choosing to sign in Edmonton instead of Vancouver when it is likely for less money than what the Canucks are offering? Now who is to blame?

    • Bud Poile

      Nobody is blaming Stamkos in Tampa for doing the right thing for himself and his interests by taking less money.

      Very character telling when he was handed the choice to change history and he chose the cash over his family name and legacy.

      See ya,dufus.

  • Charlie Allnut

    I like Lucic, and I believe he’d be a good fit here, but with the amount of money and term we’re talking about then this is an easy one to watch walk away. Ask Toronto how much they enjoyed committing to Clarkson for the money and term that he got. Or Columbus with Horton, even if he stayed healthy that was way too much for him.

    Benning has done well with signing UFAs to deals that may be expensive but are short in term. Miller for 3 years, Vrbata for 2, or Bartkowski or Weber for just 1. With hindsight they look like perfect deals now as we wouldn’t have wanted more than one more year with Miller nor any more years with Vrbata or the defensemen.

    I have a lot of faith that we’ll do the intelligent decision tomorrow as opposed to the easy and regretful one.

  • Friendly Neighbourhood Canucks fan

    He probably won’t sign with us but for what it’s worth, a friend’s brother of mine saw Lucic yesterday in Tsawassen for his wife’s brother’s graduation dinner. So you’re telling me there’s a chance???

  • Larionov18

    I could not be happier. This is going to be the next David Clarkson contract. The Oilers are going to be saddled with a terrible contract for the next 7 years. Good stuff.

  • Hockey Warrior

    Ah yes JD another day another LUCIC click bait story eh (bite, bite)….

    Anyway, i will pass and instead blow this repetitive blog right out of the water with an EXCLUSIVE that you should of been posting about pal… another of Vancouvers ‘favourite sons’ is on the trading block… EVANDER KANE.

    Buffalo sports radio have apparently announced that the Sabres are tired of Kane’s INSANE off-ice antics (under police investigation for harassment against women AGAIN) and are desperate to move the ex-Giant on, even at a loss.

    I bet most of the blowhards here are salivating at the chance to get a cut price EVANDER back in the local fold instead of Looch eh… myself, I wouldn’t touch this sick-minded individual with Milan’s CUP RING. Would YOU?

    • Pat Quinn Way

      After what Kane has pulled in Winnepeg and now Buffalo, the thought of him back on home soil is kinda frightening tbh. I think he would be a great option for the Canucks on the ice but the off ice issues are the very reason two teams appear to have given up on him. At least Lucic isn’t an issue there.

  • Rolland

    I’ve already vented my dislike for Lucic, JD can’t seem to make up his mind, so I guess that will make him right however it turns out.

    JB also seems a little confused with his vision of team building, he bleats leadership and character and foundation pieces and then goes after a petulant, sore loser, loose cannon who half the fanbase detest and want no part of.

    There are other homeboy options I’d rather see than Lucic.

  • Rolland

    Few things here…

    1. The desire of CA to follow the Oilers path of over a decade of losing is unbelievable. How many top 3 picks can you fail with until you get lucky….. I gues a lot.

    2. If Lucic would have signed a 5-6 yr deal, CA would have called it a boat anchor and said Benning didn’t know what he was doing.

    3. Most importantly…. Yesterdays flurry of trades for Top Dmen should show CA that Olli could end up being as valuable blue as PLD. Offense is always front and center at the draft but PK couldn’t be had for former #1 Hall.

    Demko and Olli will be more valuable than any center forward combo.

  • Marvin101

    so it goes, life goes on.

    Lucic should sign somewhere in the southern warm weather where he gets a chance a the cup and the ability to lead a nice peaceful life without the distraction of fans and media getting all excited every time he farts.

  • Marvin101

    It doens’t matter if it’s Lucic or not, why would any sane FA want to come to Vancity? Just start by looking at the top glue sniffers – Acquilini, TL, JB. Enuf to scare any great hockey talent away.

  • Marvin101

    Something I don’t really understand and maybe you guys can help me out. I kept hearing all last year that Lucic is simply too slow and going downhill to warrant a big contract with term. How has that now changed?
    If he wants $6.5M for 6 years but you only figure to get 3 to 4 good years out of him, not only are you getting stuck with 2 years of cost but is it really worthwhile paying even $9.75M per for 4 years or worse yet, $13M per for 3 years?

  • Marvin101

    Expecting logical consistency from a journalist? Sigh. How naïve.

    Consistency and getting facts straight isn’t what journalism’s about. Journalism is about exactly the opposite.

    As for facts, Milan hasn’t agreed to anything with Edmonton.

  • Mattchu

    Ugh… A trade and a guy’s tweet a day before free agency does not mean anything, actual facts are replaced with rumors and gossip and perceived as the truth. Lucic may be ready to sign in Edmonton but until they are allowed to talk about term and money all this is really for nothing. On July 1st if Edm offers 36 mil and the Canucks offer 40 mil for the same term, Lucic may change his mind, if he actually wants to sign with either team. Maybe FLA will offer him 42 mil and he will go there.

    Tweet of the day:

    Mattchu
    @MattchuTheKnowItAll

    Just talked with Lucic, says he thinks Wayne Gretzky was a good player. Taken outta context this means he will sign in #EDM. Too bad #VAN

  • RIP

    I don’t want Lucic here. Okposo is a better option in my opinion. But I can see why JB is chasing it- he has to fill in the short term gap and Lucic is an option. I do want to say to all you at CA that relentlessly inform us of how bad the Gudbranson trade was that you may want to think about yesterday. Hall for Larson! The price is high and JB capitalized early with Gudbranson, no doubt that was the right move.

  • Marty

    “The Vancouver Canucks Aren’t Getting Milan Lucic, and That Kind of Sucks”

    No, it doesn’t. It really, really doesn’t.

    These words from Jessop are adopted in the article:

    “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.”

    I don’t see this at all. I know he is big and tough and can help get pucks from the corners, but help the ability to generate goals?

    This season Daniel had 28. Jannick Hansen had 22. Lucic had 20 for the Kings. Daniel appeared to have finally gotten over the goal scoring decline that took place after he received Duncan Keith’s flying elbow to the head a few seasons ago. His goal scoring, pointed out as the twins’ problem in the article, was not a problem this season.

    The twins are not speedsters, though they may look like it next to Lucic. The best match for them seems to be a speedy player who can check, get back on defence and retrieve the puck in various places-someone like the 2011 version of Alex Burrows, or the 2016 version of Jannik Hansen.

  • Marty

    Lucic is not overated. he’s an anomaly, much like byfuglien, chara or weber. these players are as rare as they come, and it’s why they are so coveted. the two cities that hate him the most Montreal and vancouver both made offers to him, which says a lot. forget the analytics, styles change all the time and the modern game will be something different before you know it. in all cases, coaches, gms, fans, and players want these types of guys on their team