Is Milan Lucic worth it?

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Free agency begins at 10 a.m MDT tomorrow morning, and the first deal
will likely be announced before 10:15 a.m. Milan Lucic is one of the
most talked about free agents. He’s a unique player. He is a proven
top-six forward with a mean streak and a physical presence. 

My main question is can Lucic be as effective between 2016-2019 as he was between 2010-2014? He
had three seasons with 24, 26 and 30 goals and 59, 61 and 62 points in that four year window. He
will need to produce similar numbers if he going to be live up to the
rumoured $6 million/year salary he will receive in free agency.

Is he worth it?

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I’d be skeptical, not because of his ability or skill, but due to how
much the speed of the game continues increasing every year. Lucic isn’t a
bad skater, but he’s not known as speedster. He is a force along the
boards and in traffic. He wins a lot of battles, and he’s produced
before without being one of the fastest players on the ice. But with such an emphasis on pressuring the puck all over the ice, does his game translate to the quicker pace?

I wonder how much more effective Lucic will be moving forward compared to Patrick Maroon? 

If we go on track record alone it is an easy answer.

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Maroon’s
career high is 12 goals and 34 points. He had an incredible run with
Connor McDavid after the trade deadline last season, producing eight
goals and 14 points in 16 games. It was the most productive stretch of
his career. 

He scored 26 goals and 79 points in his first 204 NHL games before arriving in Edmonton.

Lucic has four 20+ goals seasons and he’s produced 300 more points than Maroon while playing 420 more NHL games. The numbers would suggest I’m asking an idiotic question.

Maybe I am, or does Maroon have more to give and will Lucic have a hard time producing like he has and will be be worth four times the money? Maroon has a $1.5 million cap hit for the next two seasons with the Oilers.

He’s just as big as Lucic. He doesn’t hit as often, but like Lucic he is one of the toughest players in the league. He will fight anyone and he can handle himself just like Lucic.

Maroon has proven he can produce at other levels.

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In his only season with the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League, he scored 35-55-90 in 64 games. He was 19 years old and led the Knights in scoring. Jadran Beljo and Akim Aliu were second and third in scoring with 62 and 61 points. Maroon was their go-to guy.

He’s put up solid numbers in the AHL as well.

In 2008/2009 he scored 23-31-54 in 80 games as a rookie.

In 2009/2010 he potted 11-33-44 in 67 games.

In 2010/2011 he tallied 26-30-56 in 66 games.

In 2011/2012 he scored 32-42-74 in 75 games.

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In his final season in the AHL he scored 26-24-50 in 64 games before being recalled to the Ducks.

His PPG each year was 0.67, 0.65, 0.84, 0.99 and 0.78. He was third, fourth, second, first and first in team scoring in his five AHL campaigns. He also had 62, 125, 98, 120 and 139 penalty minutes respectively over the five seasons.

I know producing in the NHL is much different than in the AHL. Lucic has proven he can do, while Maroon would need to blossom under the guise of a late bloomer.

The safe bet suggests Lucic will produce better, but if Maroon could produce 45 points playing with Connor McDavid and bring the same nastiness as Lucic, is it wise to pay Lucic $6 million/year for six seasons?

No doubt it would be a risk expecting Maroon to produce 45 points, when his career his is 34, but is that risk equal to paying Lucic $36 million over six years?

With the game showing no signs of slowing down, is it wise to sign a big man, who isn’t fleet of foot to a long-term deal?

I think the biggest risk in free agency is overpaying a winger.

Marian Hossa was a great signing by the Blackhawks seven seasons ago, but he also is one of the best skaters in the game and he’d had seven 31+ goals seasons before they signed him. Lucic isn’t as good as Hossa.

The Wild signed Zach Parise to a 13-year deal worth $7.58 million/season in 2012. Parise was 27, had scored 31+ goals five times and 69, 82 and 94 points. He tallied 38 points (in 48 games, prorated to 64 points in full season) during the lockout shortened season and the past three years he’s tallied 56, 62 and 53 points. He has averaged 57 points/year the past three seasons and the Wild have him on the books for nine more years.

I’d rather overpay for a quality D-man or centre, than a winger, unless they are elite like Hossa. I’d also rather overpay for a proven player like Lucic compared to overpay C and B level players who the Oilers have thrown money at haphazardly in previous years. So I understand those who are willing to take the risk of Lucic potentially falling off in the later years of the contract.

Parise is considered a very good winger, but he hasn’t come close to living up to his contract.

As the clock ticks down to free agency, Peter Chiarelli needs to recognize the odds Lucic lives up to his contract are very low. He is a dominating presence. He can ride shotgun with McDavid, which is a much more effective way of protecting a player (if you believe that is still necessary) than having a tough guy on your fourth line.

But Maroon can also protect McDavid, and he likely could produce 40-45 points at 1/4 of the price.

I’m sure Chiarelli has weighed all the options. He wants to change the identity of the team, and he needs them to improve now. He can’t worry about four or five years down the road, but at what cost?

It won’t be difficult for the Oilers to improve. They’ve been a tire fire for a decade. Making the playoffs would have Oilersnation going crazy, and maybe that would trump the risk of signing Lucic long-term.

I’d be cautious, because history has proven that overpaying players at 28 years and older is often a losing bet for the future.

Would you pay Lucic six million over six years, or more if that is what it takes to sign him?

Recently by Jason Gregor:   

  • What will Larsson bring to the Oilers
  • Hall trade: It is based on Hope
  • Chiarelli needs to be cautious
  • Monday Musings: Chiarelli the grinder, draft age and more
  • Draft Day Two: Acquiring a D-man still alive
  • Draft rumblings and the Top-60
  • Dreams will be made this weekend
  • Live in Buffalo: Vegas, trades, the draft and be cautious of Lucic


    • I am Batman

      Ok… Let’s not sign Lucic.

      Let Vancouver overpay him , he won’t score points, but will be hitting MCDavid, Eberle, and gifting Pujularvi his first shoulder injury. It’s only 5 or six games per year!

      We can play Pouilot as our #1 LW…. Move some centres around, there’s no reason to believe they won’t explode with 100 points from that.

      Wow…. Championship team on the making… Who needs Lucic????

    • MessyEH!

      I’d sign him for 42million over 7 years. Front loaded so it would look like this.

      9m+8m+7+6+5+4+3=42 over 7 years.the final few years become a contract that helps teams like phoenix reach the cap floor.

      Just there would not be any NMC or NTC offered. If he doesn’t live up the hype you leave him unprotected in expansion.

        • MessyEH!

          7+7+7+5.4+4.2+3.5+3.5
          =37.6m with a 4.4 million worth of bonuses thrown in is completely compliant It can be done.

          Allowing the Oilers to unload it, just like Horcoff for the final years. I can’t imagine any team with an internal cap not wanting 32 year lucic for 2 million or less a year. The Oilers would be retaining salary at a 2million or less cap hit.Better and Cheaper than buyout option.

    • JimmyV1965

      The irony of this all is that with Lucic and Larsson we are closer to making the playoffs this year. Without Hall, however, we are further from the Stanlry Cup in two or three years.

    • Big Buck

      Jason Gregor is a joke of an analyst. I called into his talk show after the Oilers run against Carolina. I said to sell off everybody because the team had played well above their head and would never be close again. He laughed about my idea to blow it up and thought Pisani and Roloson were the real deal. Enough said.

      Hey Jason, you want another decade of triviality? Wake up. Either this thing gets changed now or we suck for another 10 years. We need good D. That’s the price. Hall is not a leader nor is he a top 3 left winger in the league. He racks up points but gives up as many and more at the other end. He falls down when anybody gets near him. He needed to be gone and I’m glad he is.

      Change the culture of this team by adding D, adding true competitors and by getting rid of softies. It’s not that complicated.

    • Bills Bills

      After trading Hall there isn’t much other option. If Maroon can almost double his point production playing with McDavid then I’m sure Lucic is going to have a few fine seasons on the wing of a better player than he’s ever played with before. As mentioned, Lucic is superior to Maroon in every aspect.

    • Van isl Oiler

      You bet I sign Lucic to 6mil/6yrs….ALL DAY!! Front load this contract the first two years so when McDavid signs his next contract Lucic isn’t so expensive and there is more cap space. (can you do that still, or do they average out for the cap hit?) If he is starting to tail off in performance, then he would be easier to trade or buy out if it comes to that. This team needs a major change of identity. Seeing Lucic riding shotgun to McDavid should be every Oilers fans dream come true. Throughout the history of hockey there is a line combination that has been a staple. A play maker, a trigger man, and a bruiser. The Oilers will have the best line in hockey with McDavid, Eberle, and Lucic. That line is gonna score a sh!t load of goals with Big Nasty patrolling McDavids wing. I don’t care too much if Eberle is a little irresponsible defensively sometimes, the guy has absolutely filthy hands and there’s room for that on my team. He also has been pretty healthy for a smaller guy. The sky is not falling in Oil country, we are pulling ourselves out of the cellar…FINALLY!!! GO OIL!!

      • The Last Of Barrett's Privateers

        Front loading a contract doesn’t work, a cap hit still works out to its AV.
        That’s why you can’t sign a player for three decades anymore.

    • OILFANMEXICO

      Gregor, if you were Chiarelli what would you do given the current landscape in front of you? With the mindset of being as competitive as possible next year.

      • Jason Gregor

        I would look to add another Dman before a winger. I know none are as exciting or sexy as Lucic, but I’d focus on getting another RD before a LW.

        With McDavid, Eberle, Drai, RNH, Pouliot, Puljujarvi and Maroon I think they have enough to be decent up front.

        Keep improving the D.

        • OILFANMEXICO

          So I guess we should be praying that Barrie signs with us today. Would be expensive, but would shore up our defence.

          I’m still a HUGE fan of Lucic and want him more than anyone on the UFA list.

          • Jason Gregor

            I understand liking Lucic. I love his style of play. Just caution a long-term deal.

            Would have to trade for Barrie though. Not a UFA. Or offer sheet him, which wouldn’t happen.

    • knee deep in it

      I am so sick of cheering for a team for two months then tuning out. I want a team to be in the playoffs again. The building will be insane and anything can happen.

      If we have to overpay a guy for two years starting 4 years from now, that is a small price.

      6×6 is a fair deal and makes us much better

      • MorningOwl

        hahaha Gregor,

        you’re fighting a losing battle here. seems the crowd is ready to sign Lucic to a 6×6, regardless of how well you illustrated the obvious cap crunch in a couple years and the overriding need for a top Dman above all else.

        welcome to edmonton.

        I just hope, as a Flames fan, that Chiarelli is as ‘smart’ as these fans, and signs Lucic to a 6×6.

    • Ed in Edmonton 1

      It seems that Lucic and PC agreed to terms the day before the Hall trade and likely helped PC make that decision. So its just a matter of how much and for how long.

      Don’t judge Lucic only by his point production, that’s only part of what he brings. Unlike say Hall, where judging him only by his point production is more valid.

      • MorningOwl

        so, your saying Chiarelli illegally circumvented the rules, and violated the CBA? is it that obvious?

        as a point of interest and discussion, my question is this:

        what would the NHL dole out as a penalty for a GM caught doing this – any GM, any player, not necessarily Chiareli?

        Big fine? kicked out of the league? suspended from the league for a while?

        • Ed in Edmonton 1

          Teams are allowed to discuss “parameters” with pending FAs this past week, whatever “parameters” means. So I don’t think that they have agreed on something is shocking nor is it contrary to the rules.

    • whitetailridge16

      Gregor, for the better part of a decade all we’ve heard from the Edmonton media, and anyone who follows the team for that matter, is that the Oil need to get bigger, stronger and heavier especially if they want to compete in the brutal Western Conference against the likes of LA, Anaheim, San Jose, etc. Too many of the same type of player who are too easy to play against.

      Now we’re on the verge of signing one of the best power forwards in the game, to go along with other ‘heavy’ acquisitions like Maroon and Kassian, and the response is “the Oil should be trending towards being a better skating, quick paced team.”

      So which is it?

      Seems to me that Chia is going with a mix of the two. Skilled, good skating forwards complimented with big bodied, bruising linemates who can also chip in offensively.

      Signing Lucic may very well be an overpayment, most UFA signings are, but I can’t see how he does anything but make the Oilers better and harder to play against. He’s exactly the type of player this team has been desperate for.

      • Jason Gregor

        You need size and speed. I’ve always said it. Oilers have big guys who can skate. Nurse, Klef, Kassian, Draisaitl. Pouliot is bigger. I really like Lucic’s game, I just cautioned a six year deal.

        • Kurt

          Chiarelli was going into July 1st with a lose/lose scenario with you.
          He doesn’t improve the team, you say he’s not doing his job. He makes a much needed big splash that rounds out the team making it better than last week, and you say he overpaid. Guess you should be GM. Lucic laughed out loud when you brought up his age in his press conference yesterday. Way to start it off Jay.

    • ifiwasgm

      We had to sign Lucic. No choice. If Chiarelli is making any more deals involving players I’m scared stiff at how bad it will turn out again. At least its only money with Lucic.