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He’s making $6 million per season through 2016, on a team whose neck is bent against the cap ceiling and has at least three key young players to ink next summer. He’s struggling through his worst offensive season since 2010, with just 18 points in 39 games. And despite not being the agent of intimidation he once was, he remains a coveted power forward for teams that desperately believe they need that snarl.
And, let’s face it: The Bruins are a struggling team that needs a shakeup of some kind.
So Elliotte Friedman, on Sportsnet 960 in Calgary, dove deeply into the question of trading Lucic on Monday morning. Via Nichols on Hockey:
"Lucic, I mean if you trade him. Here's the thing with Boston. I think the question with Lucic is he's not a $6 million player right now, but he can be one. He is a guy who emotionally controls a team. When Boston was at its best, Lucic was very much their emotional core. He can play a major role. I think the question is - there's two questions. No. 1, is something wrong with his body that it's finally breaking down because of the role he's played? No. 2, are they trying to get him to play whistle-to-whistle and he's simply lost his effectiveness.
"I think one of the biggest questions being asked in Boston as an organization right now is, 'What has happened here?' and, 'How long-term is this? What does it mean?' I think the Bruins are being asked about him. I think there's a lot of hard, internal questions being asked about, 'Do we do it, or do we think that there's still a lot left to give because if we do trade him, we change the makeup of our team in a major way.”
Placing Lucic on the block has been kicked around all season as the B’s struggled through injuries and fell behind the pack in the East. Fluto Shinzawa covered it last week in the Boston Globe, noting that Lucic would be 28 in the first year of his next contract:
When Lucic is fully engaged, he is steaming north and south, plowing through bodies, and bruising faces with his fists. This is not kind on opponents or himself. Power forward is a demanding, high-mileage position that does not lend itself to longevity.
There are exceptions, such as Jarome Iginla, Lucic’s ex-linemate, and Arizona captain Shane Doan. The two musclebound right wings are producing into their late 30s.
But Iginla and Doan do not have much company. Recent power forwards who have faded under the weight of their playing styles include former Lucic linemate Nathan Horton, Ryan Malone, Brenden Morrow, and Jamie Langenbrunner.
Dustin Brown, Los Angeles’s hit-first captain, is only 30 years old. Brown is on pace to score a career-low 14 goals. He is on the Kings’ books until 2022 at $5.875 million annually, according to www.capgeek.com. It is an unmovable contract. The Bruins cannot afford to carry a similar cap burden. The alternative, however, is saying goodbye to a brand-personifying player while he still has plenty of rubber on his monster-truck tires.
Fluto hit on something here that’s going to be a tough sell for most analysts: intangibles.
Brown’s captained two Los Angeles Kings Stanley Cup championship teams. And while no one will claim he’s as integral to those titles as Drew Doughty or Jonathan Quick, he has 34 points in 46 games during those runs. He hits hard. He makes plays. And if you ask the Kings, his leading by example matters.
Lucic is a leader for the Bruins. He’s a tempo setter and an important voice in that locker room. No, his offensive output isn’t worth the current contract … but let’s be honest, the loss of Jarome Iginla and the health of David Krejci have influenced this greatly. Going from 53.9 percent Corsi 5v5 close to 49.5 percent this season is a by-product of linemates as much as his own ineffectiveness.
But if you take Lucic off the Bruins, you fundamentally change the Bruins. People said that when Shawn Thornton left, which was nonsensical, but it’s reality for Lucic’s departure. Best case scenario, the Bruins flip him for essential pieces to reload on the fly and then open up the money to make sure Dougie Hamilton and Torey Krug remain on that blue line for years.
Worst case scenario, it leads to an identity crisis and they spend the next decade trying to recapture what it was Lucic gave them.
Given his age, his style, the annual value of his next contract and his value on the trade market … would a trade that fundamentally changes the Bruins make sense?
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