Boston continues its big day and moves Milan Lucic to the Los Angeles Kings.
In what seemed like an inevitable move, Boston sent forward Milan Lucic out the door, only it was to the Los Angeles Kings. In return, the Bruins get the 13th overall pick this year, goaltender Martin Jones, and defenceman Colin Miller. Miller will be 23-years-old next year and spent last year in the AHL (and managed 52 points).
Boston obviously needed to free up cap space. The reason Dougie Hamilton was sent packing was because they couldn’t afford to sign him (though if it turns out it was only $5.5M per season as the Globe’s Kevin DuPont had reported, it’s amazing that Boston chose to trade him at that price, and then sign Adam McQuaid). General Fanager has the Bruins at less than $5-million in cap space for next year, with several spots to sign (or bring up younger players). There’s not a lot of flexibility for a team that just traded a cornerstone defenceman, has their current cornerstone defenceman aging, and missed the playoffs last year. They now own the 13th, 14th, and 15th overall pick this year.
Undoubtedly, Lucic fits in with what most people perceive the Los Angeles Kings as being. A big, physical team that can also put the puck in the net. That describes Lucic down to a tee. In three straight 82-game seasons, Lucic managed 35 assists, and averaged nearly 27 goals a season from 2010-2014. That took a nosedive last year with just 18 goals and 44 points, both four-year lows. Some of that could be David Krejci playing injured (or not at all), but power forwards do not tend to age particularly well (though there are always exceptions). Lucic is only 27-years-old this season, but a few more real good seasons might all he has left.
The cap situation means that I don’t think Los Angeles will be re-signing him. If the Kings are in contention come March, they hold him for a Cup run. If not, they flip him to another team. Also, getting Lucic almost all but guarantees a Mike Richards buyout.
Los Angeles and Boston have been very similar teams over the last few years, both in terms of underlying numbers and in style of play on the ice. I don’t think it’ll be hard for Lucic to fit in with the new teammates. Of course, learning new tendencies is always part of the problem, but as far as the forechecking/puck retrieval/physical game goes, he’ll fit in.
Lucic will be in Los Angeles’ top six mix, and at least stylistically, he’d probably be better suited to play with Carter than with Kopitar. We’ll see what happens, but I’m still optimistic that Lucic can return to 25 goal, 55 point total this year. He had such a good track record behind him (fantasy-wise), that even if I do think his prime is winding down, he will return to close to what he was in recent years.
There is no telling how he’ll be ranked now that he’s in Los Angeles, or how bullish/bearish fantasy owners will be for his prospects in a new area code. Lucic is just a year removed from a top-25 forward status in fantasy, and I think he can get back there again. I don’t have official projections, but if he can be had outside the top-50 draft picks in a roto draft next season, I’ll start to take interest.
One thing that will be necessary to keep an eye on is line mates. With Tanner Pearson and Tyler Toffoli playing so well with Jeff Carter, it’s not certain that Lucic will crack that line. Marian Gaborik and Anze Kopitar are a package duo, so one of Pearson/Lucic/Dustin Brown will spend a good portion of the year on the third line barring injury. My initial lean is it’s Brown moving down the lineup, but that’s certainly a fluid situation. It could easily be Pearson.
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