Milan Lucic on the Vancouver Canucks?
The Edmonton Oilers power forward was on Vancouver radio station Sportsnet 650 on Wednesday and talked about the potential of playing for his hometown NHL team one day.
“It’s definitely something that potentially could happen. Whatever happened from 2011 and that type of stuff, it’s all water under the bridge.”
" It's something that could potentially happen in the future ".
Milan Lucic on the possibility of playing for the Canucks
— Sportsnet 650 (@Sportsnet650) May 1, 2019
Lucic, of course, was a member of the Stanley Cup winning Boston Bruins team that defeated the Canucks in 2011. GM Jim Benning reportedly had interest in Lucic when he became a free agent in 2016, but the Vancouver native ultimately chose to sign with the Oilers.
Despite the Bruins and Canucks rivalry, Lucic is respected by many in Vancouver due to his junior years with the city’s WHL team. In 133 career regular season games with the Vancouver Giants, he had 39 goals and 48 assists for 87 points. He also helped the team capture a WHL Championship in 2006 and a Memorial Cup championship in 2007.
The 30-year-old told the radio station he still loves the city of Vancouver and what it embodies.
“It’s still a place I love to go home to. It’s still a place I love to visit.”
Lucic also gave praise to the current state of the Canucks and the direction the team is heading in. Vancouver finished just nine points out of a Wild Card position this past season.
“I think the Canucks right now are a very exciting team. I love what Jim has done as far as building a team within and developing players. I think Travis had gone a really good job as well from the coaching standpoint. It’s an exciting team. It’s a growing team. You never know what the future has in store for you.”
Lucic had six goals and 20 points to go with 91 PIM in 79 games with the Oilers this season. He has four years left on a seven-year deal that pays him $6 million annually. His deal has a no-trade clause, but starting June 21st 2021, it becomes a modified no-trade clause in which he can submit a list of eight teams he can be traded to.
Lucic scored 23 goals in his first year in Edmonton, but has managed just 16 goals over the last two years. He brings a physical and gritty element to his game, but if he isn’t scoring regularly to go with that, the Oilers are going to have a very hard time finding an NHL team willing to take on that contract in a trade.
If Lucic were to waive his no-trade clause this offseason, would the Canucks even entertain the possibility? There’s no denying how effective Lucic was in his Boston days. He was once a 20-30 goal-scorer with the ability to put up 50-60 points and lay punishing hits. He’s become slower and much less effective since then. If the Canucks were to make a move for him, they’d be counting on the fact that he can bounce back and return to form.
The only way a Canucks and Lucic trade would really make sense at this point was if the Canucks could unload the contract of Loui Eriksson or Brandon Sutter in the deal. There wouldn’t be a team willing to take on Lucic’s contract without something else involved or salary retained. That’s even assuming GM Benning would go against the wishes of many Canucks fans and bring in a player that many fans despise.
It’s fair to say Lucic’s best days are probably behind him. You could argue, depending on his play in these next few years, that the Canucks could bring Lucic in on a cheap contract as a fourth-line guy when his current contract expires and the Canucks are competitive. Give him one final shot at another Stanley Cup playing for his hometown team. But even that is reaching. There just seems to be too much bad blood for the Canucks to bring the power forward into the organization at this point.