Milan Lucic at his best is a unique player.
Very few NHL players have his combination of offensive skill, size/strength and experience. He’s a true power forward when he moves his feet and plays a physical game. The problem is he doesn’t do this enough on a consistent basis, which was one of the issues for him this season.
“Too inconsistent, personally,” Lucic said when asked to assess his play. “Especially the way I started the season, I was very inconsistent and a very poor player in the first 35 games. I think I only had six goals by New Year?s, and that?s not acceptable from a personal note and from a team standpoint as well.
“But then I kind of got my game going in the right direction in the last six, seven weeks of the season, got things going again as far as the way I wanted to play.”
Lucic’s future will be one of many topics of discussion this summer. He’s entering the final season of a three-year contract that carries a salary cap hit of $6 million, per NHL Numbers. At some point, the Bruins will need to decide his future with the club.
“It?s a decision that will require some thought,” Chiarelli said when asked about the possibility of re-signing Lucic. “He?s a player that?s really helped us over the years; he?s a signature-type player, certainly. And I lump him in with a bunch of guys that their levels of performance weren?t up to snuff this year. He?s a big strong player that we rely on and he?s paid a good salary now and if we extend him he?ll be paid a good salary going forward. So, it?s a difficult decision because he?s a player that creates space by his size and his style of play and you?d want more production in general, from not just him but from other players, and he falls in that category.”
Lucic finished the 2014-15 campaign with 18 goals and 44 points, his lowest totals in a non-lockout season since 2009-10 when he missed 32 games due to injuries.
The Bruins ranked 22nd in goals scored and 18th in power play percentage this season after finishing third in both categories in 2013-14. Lucic wasn’t the only player who contributed to this decrease in scoring, but as one of the team’s highest-paid forwards and a player receiving top-six minutes, the B’s need more production from the veteran left winger.
Going into a contract year could motivate Lucic to get back to being one of the league’s most difficult players to play against, which in the past has been a power forward capable of scoring anywhere between 20 and 30 goals.
“My plans are to remain a Bruin and the best way to get an extension is by my play and my actions on the ice,” Lucic said. “I need to prove to the team and the organization and the fans, with my play on the ice, that I deserve an extension. So I definitely have to use that as motivation.”
Luckily for Lucic, he has an extra long summer to rest, recover and come into training camp in great shape, which wasn’t as easy to do this season because of his wrist surgery following the 2014 Stanley Cup playoffs.
“I just want to do the best I can to heal physically and heal mentally here in this long offseason and bounce back as best as I can,” Lucic said. “I have an opportunity now to get into tip-top shape, with all this time now to head into next season. I?ve got to do the best I can to make the most of that, and bounce back the way I know that I can.”
Thumbnail photo via Christopher Hanewinckel/USA TODAY Sports Images