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Photo Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

Milan Lucic: The Smart Play

The terrific thing about being an NHL player in Edmonton is the passionate fan base. That’s also what sucks most about being a player in Oilers’ silks in this city. For better and for worse, fans here have a habit of getting carried away when it comes to the five-time Stanley Cup champions. It’s a case of love ‘em or hate ‘em, with not a lot of middle ground in between.

At long last, we saw the pent-up upside of that last season when the Oilers made it into the playoffs after a decade on the outside looking in and Connor McDavid was on his way to becoming the NHL’s scoring champ and MVP. McDavid could’ve run for mayor and won. Happy days were here again, or at least it seemed they were well on the way. What a place to be a player.

This season, we’re seeing the downside (again), when the Oilers aren’t within a $5 cab ride of making the post-season. Fans are sour, and rightfully so, given the raised expectations of that march into the second round a year ago. Everything and everyone stinks. Outside of GM Peter Chiarelli, who put this team together, I can’t think of anybody who has been more of a target for frustrated fans than Milan Lucic. He’s a bum. He can’t play. Get him outta here.

Two years into a seven-year contract worth $42 million, Lucic is struggling mightily. With 10-22-32 through 70 games, Lucic isn’t producing nearly enough – at even strength or on the power play. At times, he struggles just to make or take a pass. When it comes to toughness, a dimension Chiarelli paid a premium for, Lucic is crashing around, but he’s not taking care of business often enough with the gloves off, in the opinion of many. Why didn’t the big lug punch Matt Stajan’s teeth down his throat in Calgary?

WHAT THEY SAY

Oct 9, 2017; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers left wing Milan Lucic (27) during the face off against the Winnipeg Jets during the third period at Rogers Place. Winnipeg Jets won 5-2. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

I understand the frustration by fans, which was at its high pitch before Lucic broke a 29-game goal-scoring drought against the Arizona Coyotes. One needed only listen to the post-game radio call-in shows or read websites like this one to get the hang of that. That’s the downside of playing in a town like this. Like it or not, it’s part of the deal – especially when the deal is as rich as the one Lucic signed and has another five seasons remaining.

That said, I’m glad the people bitching the loudest, the minority who think Lucic is surely finished and should be on a rail out of town sooner than later, aren’t calling the shots here. That’s not to suggest I’m particularly confident in Chiarelli’s ability to do so when you consider the moves he’s made, but I’ll take a detached approach to making things right over much of what I’m hearing from the fringes of a flustered fan base.

When things go bad here, they can go really bad, and in a hurry. I’ve seen it before – Jason Arnott comes to mind — and I’m seeing it now with Lucic. When that happens, some fans tend to fixate on the player they’re pissed at. The focus turns to the negative. If you’re looking for mistakes, you’ll damn sure find them. They get magnified. The player can do no right, even if he does.

The game in Calgary tells me Lucic is in that place right now. If you were screaming about Lucic not kicking some ass and leaving Stajan blowing snot bubbles because McDavid took a bump, you might be there, too. That’s not right or wrong. It’s just how it goes here. That’s not a place, however, Chiarelli, coach Todd McLellan and anybody else in hockey ops can afford to be. 

DOWN THE ROAD

Jan 20, 2018; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers forward Milan Lucic (27) and Vancouver Canucks forward Markus Granlund (60) battle for a loose puck during the first period at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

If you’re of the mind Lucic hasn’t been nearly good enough in just about every way you’d care to measure things by this season, you won’t get any argument from me or anybody who has been paying attention. If you believe Lucic has to take this off-season to ensure he comes back next season leaner, lighter and quicker to adapt to the speed-game we’re seeing, I’m with you. If you’re of the mind Lucic has hit the wall and is now headed down the wrong side of the hill at full-speed, you might be right, although I don’t agree.

Like it or not, the reality is Lucic isn’t going anywhere. He has a NMC clause and the term and amount left on his contract makes him almost untradeable. It’s in the best interests of the Oilers to do everything they can to give Lucic a chance to bounce back, to be the tough, physical winger capable of producing 50-60 points that he’s been until this season. The player they paid for.

Like it or not, that means playing Lucic, not benching him or burying him in the press box. That means giving Lucic ice time and opportunities to turn things around at the tail-end of a season that’s already lost. Give him the chance to go into the off-season on a positive note. That’s the smart play because the Oilers have already made a huge investment in him. You can write Lucic off if you want, but that’s not something Chiarelli has the luxury of.

RECENTLY BY ROBIN BROWNLEE  



      • fisherprice

        I always thought it was a bad trade and a bad signing. A slow, physical winger past his prime is exactly the kind of free agent every team should have learned to avoid by now, but they haven’t! The Oilers aren’t alone in this, certainly, but if anyone thought Lucic’s style was going to age well has not been paying attention to the way the league has been trending for about 5 years now.

        Call me a Taylor Hall fan, but the guy got shanked on his way out of town for no real reason, despite being the only reason to watch this godforsaken team for a solid 5 years. The most annoying rationale of all was that Lucic was somehow a replacement for Hall’s production. To me, Lucic symbolizes so much of how this management team had the completely wrong idea about how to build a team around McDavid. A guy with feet of stone is going to be able to play with the fastest player in the league? Okay.

        Anyway, I guess I agree with the main thrust of this article, which is basically that we’re stuck with Lucic so coaching and management should be trying to make the best of a bad situation. I just have no faith in management (a little in the coaching staff though) to actually accomplish this.

    • Gravis82

      If You think hall for Larson and lucic is fair, the Pete should have got Larson + draft picks equal to the value or lucic. Then, they could sign lucic and underpay for a real player they found in the draft.

  • russ99a

    This brings up a really good point. The complaining of Oilers fans overall has gotten to a ludicrous level. We can’t change what happens on the ice, so why get so upset? Is Milan Lucic’s play and his contract a personal issue? Seems kind of silly. I hope a year our of the playoffs and time away from the Oilers gives fans some clarity. We put our hearts into our team but there can be a time when it’s way too much.

    • RexHolez

      I agree, the complaining of fans have gotten to a ludicrous level, myself included. But that should only be expected when you’re as bad as they have been for so long with what’s perceived to be only cosmetic organizational changes.

      • Leo Tard

        The paying fans have every right to complain. They are paying for this pile of ?. It’s like going to the market and buying a faulty product. I DO NOT AND WILL not accept that it is ok and just keep the product anyway. I expect my money back or someone will lose their job. Period and end of story.

        • Quoteright

          I’ve heard that the only true vote that people have is where you spend your money. Until the fans stop paying inflated rates then really there is no consequence. People need to put their money where their mouths are.

        • I don’t know how much of your money back you deserve for willingly shelling out for a pile of crap. The upper management isn’t going to care until those of you local to Edmonton stop wasting your money.

    • TruthHurts98

      I don’t think people would be that pissed at him if he was only making 3 million a year. (Just an example) But because he signed 6 million a year contract to infinity and isn’t coming anywhere close to living up to it, fans are pissed. They take it out on him obviously. If he would drop the gloves and be a human wrecking ball we wouldn’t be so upset. But it’s that he not only is the slowest player in the league, he takes multiple nights off. And since the Good Ole Boys Club will never be broken up or it’s unlikely PC a) gets fired b) gets replaced my a competent GM, fans will pile onto the players that are overpaid and underperform. It’s human nature. If we weren’t passionate about are team we wouldn’t be fans at all and spend ludicrous amounts of money to support our team and sport. Just my opinion so I’m not saying it’s right or wrong. Just how I see it.

      • Glencontrolurstik

        I like Looch, & think he has value for the organization. He’s in a slump & knows it. I don’t see him happy about it one bit. He doesn’t give me the impression he’s laughing all the way to the bank, like some hockey stars do.
        I’ll give you an example of a highly respected player with the same point totals year in/out. The downside is this player isn’t known to stand up for his team-mates the way Looch has done. That in my opinion gives Lucic the edge over this guy. He was one of the most sought after UFA’s this year. That player is Rick Nash. Check out their stats. They both came into the league at a similar time.
        Nash is getting paid 7.8 mil on this contract & he is ready to sign somewhere as a UFA.
        Why are we complaining, as every team needs a player like Lucic, Nash, Byfuglin (and anyone else you can think of). They are all paid well. I think his points will go up if we show him some good vibes. He’s that kind of player.

        • The Puck

          It’s nice to see at least a little bit of balance in this discussion. I also believe that Lucic provides value to the team but is struggling mightily at the moment. It is fair to remember though that he was very solid up to Christmas (by my rough count 26 points in 36 games) and particularly in the month of December. The notion that he has struggled the entire season is not correct.

  • Cowboy Bill

    If Lucic would waive his NMC he could end up in Seattle . NMC have to be protected . But NTC don’t . I believe that’s the way it works . So with Sekera & Russell’s modified NMC kicking in before the expansion draft the Oil might not be in bad shape after all .

      • 24% body fat

        actually if seattle trys to do things the vegas way it might be tradeable. amass picks and fill to the cap floor with vets.

        the reason why everyon piles on lucic is chias philosophy. we had all the skill in the world and he traded to build a team of fighters. he gave a way value to build an antiquated team. and now they are no good. its only time before 97 asks for a trade.

        everyone other than chia knew all these moves and signing lucic was bad. it looks like everyone is smarter than the man who has 97s fate as an oiler in his hands.

        lucic and russel contracts leave no cap space to put good players around the 97 core and has hand cuffed this team. hall and eberle are casualties of these move and either nuge or klefbom are next. all so we could finish 25th this year?

        lucic sucks and i saw it coming. and while there are many problems with this team. lucic is the embodiement of the teams failures whether it is him or not.

        • Glencontrolurstik

          Not so. Lucic was invited to tour, familiarize & be enticed to sign with at least four NHL teams in his UFA off year. One of those was Edmonton, the others, Minnesota, Chicago & Vancouver. There may have been more (I seem to remember that Toronto also gave him a tour?) But the fact is that Lucic was a prize during that UFA draft. So really “everyone” didn’t know this situation would turn out the way it did. It’s great that “you saw it coming” but it seems the people in charge of hockey franchises worth hundreds of millions of dollars didn’t? Maybe, just maybe, you missed your calling, if you saw other things that came to fruition?
          So many fans, be it casual or otherwise seem to feed of each other. To the authors point, in good & bad times.
          This all seems to work up the fan-base to a frenzy. Example: One year we are winning the cup, next year, we have to re-build & blow everything up. I for one am glad there are other people looking after the multi-million dollar team.

  • Kr55

    Better be a summer filled with working on skating and explosiveness and stick skills for Lucic. He absolutely must find a way to be more effective long the boards and around the net. His big football player frame that can bull down the ice on rushes and score is no longer quick enough to do that as he’s got older and the rest of the league faster. He has to find ways to use that frame in down low in the offensive zone. Defenders are getting damn good with their sticks too, he needs to improve his puck handling and protection. He’s just awful at holding onto pucks, especially for a big guy.

    • A-co

      If you were a professional athlete don’t you think you would be working on getting faster and in the best shape possible every off season?? Hell maybe work on your puck skills as well in the off season? It’s not like you reach a point and say to yourself ” I’ve reached the mountain top..I can’t get any faster or better with the puck..I think I’ll stop working out”

  • RexHolez

    Lucic is now an oiler. He’s earned his stripes! He has the opportunity to either embrace the wild swings of a small passionate fan base or let it beat him down! Let us never forget that Lucic is Milan bloody Lucic!

    Lucic is folk hero! We can either beat him down or we can encourage him. It’s an individual choice. #IBelieveinLucic

    • Oilman99

      Stripes can be removed if a player is not performing. Milan bloody Lucic needs to perform like atleast a shadow of Milan bloody Lucic. The only hope is he can change his training regimen and reincarnate himself.

      • Heschultzhescores

        Great point! We aren’t against Lucic, we’re against this version of Lucic. Give us the Boston version of Lucic please! Either he has gotten old, or he has gotten soft. He needs to get back to being intimidating or he has no purpose in the league, let alone on the Oilers.

        • Glencontrolurstik

          You are absolutely right.
          Although, I think a lot of his softening up has come from the coaches. Maybe not wanting to have to use their “record-setting” penalty-kill? Or he has injured his hand/s or forearm/s? Which would explain his suddenly horrible puck handling & shot.

  • Oilman99

    If he can’t score,skate,or take a pass,at least stand up for the star players on the team. The lack of action against Calgary with the season lost is unforgiveable.

  • camdog

    The old timers need to quit with the 5 Stanley Cup thing. The 60 year old fans aren’t the ones that are mad about the state of this team, it’s the fans that were too young to remember what happened 30 years ago or weren’t even born yet. Continuing to employ employ Old Oilers from the dynasty years with a track performance of losing in management may appease the 60 year old crowd with fondness of the dynasty years, however the younger crowd only sees subsidizing a billionaire with hundreds of millions for a new rink and then paying more per ticket per win than other franchise in the NHL.

    • Oilman99

      Totally disagree, as a fan from the beginning,the past eleven out of twelve years are totally disgusting,and infuriating. The incompetence of management is unbelievable when you see other teams rebuild in half the time. The way things have gone since Chia took over McD may never see a cup as an Oiler,and that is a crime.

      • I am 45 and moved here from Wales in 1979. The first great Oilers hockey I remember was upsetting the Canadian’s, I was hooked. I also remember finally beating the stars when we were cash strapped and Doug Weight was and is one of my favourite Oilers.

        Then the surprise cup run in 2007 was awesome and probably taught me more about the game than anything. I definitely value team defence and effort after that experience. Players like Peca and Samsonov playing heavy minutes so younger players could produce offence and later get the contract. Basically burying Souray for speaking his mind instead of playing him and trading him, you know asset management? Trading Smyth and the vets were Horcoff, Hemsky, and Moreau. This is when we were in big trouble. Since then we have written the book on how not to rebuild a team. Just keep drafting offensive players and neglect the back end and questionable coaching.

        This will sum it up for me, remember the show Oilchange we had lost a tight one in San Jose. Taylor Hall has played great in the loss but still looked pissed next day at practice. Steve Smith skates up and says “ you were flying last night, you would ofput me out of business when I played. “ Do you think Babcock would say that after a loss?

    • gordo

      wrong; i’m very pissed that for most of the last 28 years the hockey has been substandard. the katz regime is a tire fire. pocklington wasn’t always easy to take in the 80’s and 90’s, but his regime produced some of the best hockey teams ever.

    • Sammy27

      I’ve been watching the Oilers since day 1, the 55 yr old fans are also fed up. We don’t expect the glory days (nor do we want the ineptitude to continue) but some of you have only seen one decade of darkness, the 90’s decade wasn’t anything to brag about either. So if anything the Older Oilers fans should be more frustrated. Don’t pin the Old Boys Club on us.

  • Serious Gord

    This ‘make adjustments to training and other elements’ strategy applies to more than just lucic. It applies to larrson, and Klefbom and a few others to.

    Essentially the oil has too many issues with too many players and too few assets and cap room to trade, buyout and bring up their way out.

    Like it or not the oil are in a box where the only way out is to repair the assets they have or, in the case of RNH – redeploy to areas of weakness – the wing in rnhs case.

    Acquisitions with the little bit of cap room chia has have to go to getting lots of cheap depth at all positions so as to avoid the torpedoing of next season due to a couple of (inevitable) injuries.

    This is a high risk, nerve-wracking way to do things (think of Wallace saying “HOLD…HOLD…” as the mounted English horsemen approached..) but it’s the only way.

    Chia and TMC might wind up with their heads chopped off (figuratively-speaking) it the strategy fails, but I think trading high-value or high potential assets at their low point is going to get them that result absolutely so they standing fast at least might get you in the history books.

    • polarcap

      Lucic is proud, he tries and cares. He is a victim of age and body structure. If he continues to be used in a top 6 and PP role he is hurting the team. Going forward he will be taking the spot of a player who could help the team win. PC created this mess, and it’s not going to look any prettier in year 3,4,5 and 6. Don’t hurt the team to honor the contract.

      • Serious Gord

        I think much of lucics poor and inconsistent performance is due to his attitude – surly, but non-combative -far too many don’t give a crap efforts.

  • Deezy

    Lucic can come back leaner, lighter and faster but he may want to work on his passing more than anything. The play dies on his stick consistently. I like how the article tries to be positive but reality is this guy’s playmaking abilities are not going to all of a sudden improve with weight loss. Peter Chiarelli messed up the team in oh so many ways with this unnecessary contract that he decided to give his buddy.

    • polarcap

      Lucic is a proud guy. He knows he is on an 8 mil (year 2) contract. He tries, he cares. If he could he would be top 10 in the league playing. But reality knows, age and body structure work against him. He is past his prime and unlikely to recover his former glories. How many players have successfully turned back time. He is not going to get better. This leaves PC and TM with a dilemma, do they continue to push him in a top 6 role, to the detriment of team results. If the Oilers were in a playoff situation, his minutes would be cut. If he doesn’t rejuvenate his game next year his will be taking the place of someone who could help the team. PC created this mess, he has to find a way out of it. He is not doing lucic or the team any favors by potentially embarrassing him.

  • MrBung

    Brownlee. Bottom line he has to get himself out of this. At his age and the way the game has gone, there is a likelihood he has settled into his new level. But you are right. The Oil are stuck with him and the season is flushed so might as well see what you have got with him…oh wait .. TMac has already been doing it.

  • Jordan88

    Judging from his play, and problems getting a pass or playing in tight. And overall ridged play. I would say he is dealing with some pretty bad back issues.

    I would not be surprised if he’s been dealing with something for the better half of a season physically.

      • Glencontrolurstik

        Because that’s the kind of player he is. He will give what he can, if he can. I’m thinking it’s more wrist/forearm or maybe a combination with back. Because, so far in his hockey career, he did have a shot & could handle a puck. Now he is below average. But Looch won’t complain on his behalf. He’s not that kind of player. That in itself is worth contract $$$ & term.

  • Arfguy

    Nothing within the Oilers organization is being done right, IMO. Todd is making poor decisions with his line-up. He kept on throwing Lucic on the ice with McDavid. Already minus one. Then he keeps throwing Lucic on the power play, first unit. Minus two. Throws him on the ice when the game is on the line, despite Lucic not scoring in 29 games. Minus three. When one of your player is struggling and you do not want to bench him or put him in the press box because you think it won’t help, don’t make the mistake of putting the same struggling player on the ice more and more, because that magnifies the issue. Put the player in a position to try and get a goal while playing low minutes.

    Terrible decision-making by the coaching staff.

  • Danoilerfanincalgary

    I like Looch and hope he can redefine his game to at least make the contract a little more feasable because he is going nowhere. Nobody will fight him so there is that deterant and maybe our guys play a little taller because of it and it wasn’t that long ago everyone bemoaned the fact our team was a pushover physically. I realize the game is changing to a much faster game but Lucic is not the problem, it is the depth at wing who contribute very little and there are some who should be honing their skills in the minors.

  • ellebee

    The biggest problem with Lucic from a fan point of view is that because he has this huge cap hit NM contract we will likely lose RNH who is younger, faster & hitting his stride.. it’s a pretty disappointing trade off keeping an albatross and losing a fan fav. The best solution is to dump Chiarelli before he makes a bad situation worse and dump McLellan for a coach that can motivate not just Lucic but the entire team. It has to be admitted that whether TM is a bad coach or a great coach he’s lost effectiveness with this group, and there’s a good number of them that aren’t going anywhere.

  • Battman

    Must admit I was not a fan of this signing when it was announced. Hated seeing hall go and Lucic “replace” him. I did think it was going to be a bad situation after a couple years.
    At this point now, I’m pushing myself to think positively about where the team is and what may happen this summer. If I was chia Pete, this is the summer that I’d be interested in standing mostly pat with the team as is. Yes they underperformed terribly. Yes it was a complete disaster. But I think that it terms of the hockey team it doesn’t get a whole lot worse than this year. Seems that several players have been playing injured all year, several players are still quite inexperienced, especially on the wings. I think some tinkering(bring in a vet bottom six winger like Matt Hendricks, find a solid backup option or retain Montoya if one can’t be found, depth veteran wingers on cheap contracts) would be the best option.

    Unless you’re getting an insane blockbuster deal(say a signed Karlsson plus for Klefbom plus, although I wouldn’t do it because I think Klefbom could be the next Karlsson potentially) then stand pat.

    I’d also advise the players during exit interviews that take maybe three weeks off or so to recover/vacation/ whatever then let’s get back to it. Get training, get working out, get improving on skills, see a psychologist if needed, rehab injuries so forth and so on and let’s get back to it.

    In terms of Lucic, I feel positive that a passionate player such as himself is going into this offseason angry. Pissed off I just saw my wife doing dirty things with my brother pissed off and that he is going to be on a warpath come training camp. Add that to year over year experience/improvement and I think that the team will be doing better

    • Glencontrolurstik

      I agree. I will say this & have for a while. That this team misses Hendricks more than they know?
      There are many great layers to Matt Hendricks. More than what the average fan notices.
      I think this year would have been a bit different, if Hendricks was still in the fold.

  • KennyG

    What do you think those two old guys that sat in the balcony on the muppet show would say about Lucic’s performance this year? They are Oiler fans I believe?

    • Glencontrolurstik

      No they are NOT… They are Harold Ballard & King Clancey. EX Leaf Owner & Compadré.
      (Katz & Lowe if you will?)
      Jim Henson was a huge Ranger Fan & watched them playing the Leafs at the Gardens.
      They always sat in the balcony at MLG about 20 rows up 45 degree angle from the top right corner of the home net.
      They had there own box. Those are who those two old men were fashioned after.
      Google images of them… It’s hilarious.

  • Ted

    To define Milan Lucic at his best would be when the other team is frightened by this monster! If Milan doesn’t have 100 PM’s on the year he is not himself. Let’s pray for a healthier back next season and the menace that we thought we were getting! Not this disaster. Playing with edge is his game and scaring the crap out of the opposition is what we brought him here for! With those PM’s comes his points, check his career stats. This is the Lucic we want! BOOM!

  • Fire Woodcroft!

    I fricken love Beast Mode Lucic.

    What bothers me is how rarely we see him days. It was a bunch of times last year – a few memorable nights during the playoffs, and then maybe twice this season so far.

    Bring back the beast and the boo-birds would stop..

  • oilfan4ever

    For all the naysayers out there I ask that you look at Dustin Brown. For the past two year his contract was considered a boat anchor and the Kings were stuck with him. He is now back in the top sixand contributing big time. Milan has had an off year but has a better pedigree than Brown and I see no reason why he won’t bounce back.

  • Rama Lama

    I recently saw an interview where McDavid was being interviewed as a sixteen year old…….when asked which NHL player he would most like to play with he said it would be someone like Milan Lucic.

    I bet he regrets that now……..Lucic seems to have lost a step or two.

  • Connor McFly

    Lucic’s season has been almost supernaturally dreadful. This is the worst free agent signing in Chiarellli’s rather dark past as an NHL executive. His trades have also shown a shocking lack of player evaluation. I think the least that should happen is the firing of TMac and his lackies. His inflexibility helped cost the Oil the season. What to do with Lucic should be placed in the hands of a veteran coach who is firm with the team and has their backs and not by sticking a knife in. I personnally don’t care how much weight loss and fitness Looch accomplishes, by age 30 you should be able to give/take a pass and not trip over the blue line. I think Katz/Gretz may have much more say in this situation than people think. A shoe may drop…tic toc tic toc…

  • RJ

    The team invested a lot in him, so they need to give him icetime so he can get some opportunities to turn things around.

    Similar logic could be used re Puljujarvi. The Oil invested a high pick in him, and he’s got to get icetime, make mistakes and learn to play a top-6 role. When you read about younger players making that leap in play, they w had ample time to play and the game starts to slow down for them.

    He’s also at the age where he has a chance to get better.

  • Lucic is not a fit on this counter attacking team skating up and down the ice all night. Put him on the Pens, Caps or Bruins with a little confidence and he would have value.

    This team will be winning if he is ever going to get moved. This fan base needs to remember now if he is moved and has success on another team. A coaching move I could understand but a New GM doesn’t raise players value. Only wins

  • DannyGallivan

    Robin is right. From a team perspective, we have to find the best way to take advantage of Lucic. Hall was traded (spectacularly bad trade = now they may trade Klef to get scoring on the wings – pathetic) which, in part, led to the Luc bullet proof contract which was another downside on the Hall trade. At 31 goals so far this season, Hall is the 3rd highest scoring LW and 11th in goals in the league and it literally carrying NJ on his back. In total pts he is 12th w 76. Lucic has 32 points and is 199th in scoring. That said, Lucic was 101st last year and 65th the year before so if he can regain some of his capability it will really help this team. He is ‘only’ 29. Ovechkin and Malkin are 32 and 31 and still have it so there is hope.

    Like it or not, he is our player and we have to figure out how to make him successful again.

    • Spydyr

      And another:
      July 1, 2016

      Spydyr
      2 years ago
      TRASH IT! 9
      CHEERS 40

      Any term longer than four years is risky and a term longer than five is a mistake.

      So I fully expect the “Oilers Braintrust” to offer the maximum term of seven years.

  • dsanchez1973

    I have two concerns about Lucic.

    The first concern is his plan to get leaner and faster in the offseason. Lucic is not and never has been a speedy, skilled player, and the offseason is not going to make it such that he can be one. The reason he reached the NHL and became an effective player was his size and strength. He needs to figure out how to leverage that size and strength in the current NHL by slowing the play down. Having him devote himself to getting smaller and faster will work as well as Nuge trying to become an enforcer – he won’t be able to reach NHL quality in his supposed new skill, and will degrade the skills that made him effective.

    The second concern is the handling of Lucic by the coach for the rest of this year. There is no way it can be good for team morale to see your assistant captain being given minutes that he cannot produce in without any hint of accountability. Every winger on the team should be fuming watching Lucic playing 18 minutes a night and on the PP1 while he is out there with the third line for 11 minutes. At this point of the season, there’s a very fair argument to be made regarding not whether Lucic should be on the top line, but whether he should be in the lineup at all.

    • Beer_League_Ringer

      I said something related to this in another thread.

      Lucic should not be expected to carry the puck through the NZ, crisscross at the blue line, play fast-break hockey, etc. Any line that has Looch on it should be dumping the puck into the corner on his side and letting him run the other team’s D-men through the boards. Again and Again. If he is on the PP, the only time he should touch the puck is when it bounces off him into the net when he is parked in front. For gawd sake’s, we have one of the most feared players in the game and we expect him to play with finesse? His main role is to create room for our skill, not BE our skill. I don’t care if he only gets 40pts a season as long as he’s grinding hard on the other team’s players and enforcing as needed. I don’t mind the occasional “Kassian-style” meltdown either (the skilled players love that stuff too). Yes, he has some skill that he hasn’t been using very well (confidence or injury or both?), but his greatest contributions will always involve physicality, chaos, and being a menace. I believe his past offensive success is related to those qualities, not to speed/skill. The coaching staff must allow him to be a menace.

      Convincing the Drai, Lucic, Puljujarvi line (750+lbs) to play a simple dump, control, cycle-type game is key. Slow the game down, stand over pucks, wear out the opponent. Alternatively, build a terrifying 3rd/4th line around him: Lucic, JJ, Kassian (YIKES!!!).

      The bottom line: Lucic is a unique asset, but only if he plays the way he can and is utilized properly. Has he underachieved? Definitely. Could the coaches put him in a better position to use his “skills” to help the team? Definitely.