For Milan Lucic, our large adult son, the bad times are compounding these days and there doesn’t look to be any relief in sight. The veteran winger has now gone 27 straight games without a goal. It’s the longest such streak he’s ever had in the NHL outside of his rookie season in Boston.
So the question for this week’s WWYDW is, what would you do with Milan Lucic?
I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that Milan Lucic is having an absolute nightmare of a season. Not only his he not scoring (or assisting for that matter), but he’s also having the play die on his stick more often than not. According to Fox Sports, Lucic currently sits 18th place in the NHL in giveaways (64), the most by any Oiler (Kris Russell is 2nd with 59). To make matters worse, Lucic has only five assists during this slump and all but one of them have been secondary assists (the only primary apple came on an empty net goal). For a guy that’s making $6 million per year, that lack of production is unacceptable and something has to change. Matt Henderson took a deeper look at the numbers here.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again here now, I actually feel bad for the guy. I know that he’s as pissed off as anyone about not being able to get on the scoresheet, but in professional sports it’s the results that matter and not the intent. Aside from hitting the post in last night’s loss to the Sharks, can you remember him getting a scoring chance or even having anything go his way in general? Personally, I think something needs to change and it’s where he’s slotted in the lineup. But it doesn’t matter what I think, WWYDW is about what you think.
Since we have to assume that Lucic will be around for as long as Peter Chiarelli is in charge (his contract is another issue but that’s a story for another day), then what are the options? Is there a way to send the guy a message, letting him know he’s not playing up to par with what is expected of him without sewering the relationship? Do we even care?
1) Reduced Ice Time: Considering the opportunities Lucic has been given over the past week or so (he played 19:33 last night, basically all of it with McDavid) and not being able to convert on anything, I wonder if/when Todd McLellan will send him a message. Will we see Lucic playing on the fourth line? Will we ever see him get down to the 10-12 minute mark? If a guy like Puljujarvi has to earn his ice time (yeah, I know he’s a rookie) then why doesn’t Lucic? That said, Lucic is averaging 16:20/night which is the lowest average he’s seen since 2009-10.
2) Pressbox Visit: As far as I could find, the last time Milan Lucic was a healthy scratch was in April of 2013. Could he be a line for a date with the popcorn machine if things don’t improve? I mean, other players have been scratched for less and you’d have to hope that the accountability would extend to veterans like Lucic. To me, this is a no-brainer and I’m almost (ALMOST!) surprised that it hasn’t happened already.
3) Trade: As I mentioned, I don’t think that Lucic will be moved so long as the current regime is still in place. That said, stranger things have happened in the NHL and you never know who’s going to need to get to the cap floor in the future. That said, Lucic’s salary and bonus structures don’t see him making less than his cap hit until the 2020-21 season.
4) Buyout: You can’t do it. His contract is bulletproof. He has so much money tied up in signing bonuses that buying him out wouldn’t save much of anything.
5) Sacrifice for the Gods: Maybe we need to start thinking on a spiritual level. Maybe something is going on with the cosmos that our mortal senses aren’t able to pick up? I’m not ready to cross that off the list, and maybe, just maybe we should be out looking for a sacrifice to appease the gods. Human? Animal? Otherwise? We may not know just how powerful this darkness can be.
6) Something else: Is there another idea that you can think of? Allergy to his equipment, perhaps?
WHAT SAY YOU?
Now that the options are laid out, I’m curious to know what you would do with Milan Lucic in both the short and long term. Would you sit him? Banish him to the press box forever? Come up with the most epic trade loss of all time just to move him? I think the contract numbers tell a story that truly limits the options with this player, but maybe there’s something I’m overlooking? I don’t have the answers, but luckily, that’s why you’re here. I know that you guys will have the answers to this problem and that, together, we can collectively figure out a solution for making this work.
Are there options that I haven’t covered? Are we stuck with him forever? You tell me.
LUCIC’S SEASON SO FAR
WWYDW IS BROUGHT TO YOU BY PRO AM SPORTS