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?
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.
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
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.
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.
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?
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