Milan Lucic’s new contract has the potential to become a disaster
In all likelihood, Milan Lucic will be an unrestricted free agent come July 1st. The 28 year old winger has spent time in both Boston and Los Angeles, accumulating 647 career games, 397 career points, and 851 career penalty minutes.
Lucic has “buyer beware” written all over him. However, there may not be that many buyers to begin with. All signs indicate to it being a three horse race — Los Angeles, Edmonton, and Vancouver. There will certainly be other teams interested in his service, but Lucic has ties to all three of these franchises so it is assumed he will pick one of them.
Lucic has stated his desire to stay in Los Angeles, but the cap likely won’t be there. That leaves ex-Bruins assistant GM Jim Benning in Vancouver and ex-Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli in Edmonton bidding on him. This eventual bidding war can only end one way: disaster.
If Lucic gets his wanted 6 years, 36 million (6 million AAV), or even more, it’s almost guaranteed cap hell in a few years when Lucic reaches his mid-thirties. Seeing that he just turned 28 today (June 7, 2016), his proposed six year deal would run him until he is a free agent again at age 34.
The Los Angeles Kings are no stranger to this situation, as they went through it a few years ago with Dustin Brown. In July of 2013, Dean Lombardi signed the 28 year old Brown to an eight year deal worth 5.8 million per. Brown, the same age as Lucic is now, put up similar numbers to Lucic before his deal was signed. Brown was a consistent 50 point, and about 50 penalty minutes per year player. Now, cap implications have changed in three years, but much the same can be said about Lucic. Although he takes about twice as many penalties, Lucic hovers around the same point totals (mid-to-high 50s) as Brown did prior to his eight year deal.
Can we expect the same decline in Lucic as we have seen in Brown? There’s no way to tell. But it’s a troubling history with Brown and countless other forwards looking to cash in big on pay day, in what likely will be their last big contract. Playing with someone like Connor McDavid could certainly help Lucic’s cause for the first few years, but the latter half of his contract could prove to be deadly.
The general managers should think twice before signing Milan Lucic to a big deal. A good player and a good agitator yes, but in a cap crunch league, you need to be wary of potential deals like his. Much like Brown, it’s possible Milan Lucic becomes a buyout candidate in a few years with his new contract.
A bidding war that drives his price up to or above 7 million per would be a kicker, but it is likely what is going to happen.