Some interesting stuff from Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman this morning, courtesy Nichols on Hockey:
“The only thing I’ve heard about Lucic I think there’s at least one team, I believe, that’s asked about him and I don’t think there was a deal to be made there.
“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.’ “
This, of course, coincides with one of the worst slumps of Lucic’s career — six goals in 39 games, one in his last 15 — and head coach Claude Julien recently calling out the burly power forward.
“His whole game, I think,” was Julien’s reply when asked what Lucic needs to improve, per the Boston Globe. “We’d like to see him do a lot more than what he’s done. He’s a heavy player and everybody talks about him hitting — yeah, that’s one part of his game — but he’s also a guy that with his size and strength he can go to the net hard.
“He can get his nose dirty in those areas and maybe that increases his goal production and stuff like that.”
You can tell B’s are choked about this season slipping away. They started the year 13-8-0 and have gone 6-7-6 since, and guys are venting. Tuukka Rask used the word “embarrassing” to describe Sunday’s loss to Carolina and, following Saturday’s OT loss to Ottawa, Julien said Lucic — who recorded just a single shot on goal — has “got to be capable, of, again, more than one measly shot.”
In terms of contractual mobility, Lucic’s an interesting case. He’s still only 26 and has just one year remaining on a deal that pays $6M annually. But he also has a modified no-movement clause and, with free agency looming at the end of 2015-16, could be in line for another payday… assuming this current slump is something he can break out of, and not the beginning of a downward slide.
Per the Globe’s Fluto Shinzawa, the extension Nick Foligno recently inked with Columbus — a six-year, $33 million deal — could factor into Lucic’s next contract. There’s still plenty that could happen to change that, but it’s definitely something teams thinking about acquiring Lucic would take into consideration.
The bigger issue, though, is what Friedman stated above — would Boston be willing to dramatically alter its persona during the course of the season? Outside of captain Zdeno Chara, there’s no player that embodies the Bruins quite like Lucic, and it’s tough to predict how profound an effect his departure would have on the club.
The flip side, of course, is that many a NHL team’s been burned by focusing on what a player’s done in the past — rather than what he’ll do in the future.