Under Pressure: Milan Lucic

AP
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This post is part of Oilers Day on PHT…

Milan Lucic turned 28 in June. He’s already played 647 games in the NHL, plus a bunch more in the playoffs. And along the way, he hasn’t exactly been shy about throwing his body around.

So, naturally, the seven-year, $42 million contract he signed with the Edmonton Oilers on July 1 has raised questions about his longevity as a power forward.

And not surprisingly, he’s optimistic.

“I’m looking forward to these next seven years and I plan on playing them out to the best of my ability and, hopefully, I can add another year or two once this contract is done,” Lucic said, per The Province.

He added that a couple of doctors he saw as part of the free-agent process were “shocked that I wasn’t beaten up as much as they expected me to be.”

Lucic scored 20 goals in 81 games last season for the Kings. An underrated play-maker, he also had 35 assists.

Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli is more excited about Lucic’s upside than he’s worried about what might go wrong.

“There’s risk in every decision you make,” said Chiarelli “He’s 28. He’s very limited in terms of injuries, 10 games he’s missed the last six years. Yes, the style of game he plays is sometimes tough to play into your 30s but I know what care he takes of his body. He was always one of the best conditioned athletes on the Bruins.”

Of course, pressure to perform is nothing new to Lucic. He had it in Boston, and he had it in Los Angeles.

But the Oilers haven’t made the playoffs in a decade, and now he’ll be expected to play a major role in ending that slump — possibly on a line with young Connor McDavid

“People have been questioning whether I can play since I was 13 years old,” Lucic said. “I’ve always managed to pull through and prove people wrong. … You can listen to [the criticism] and let it bring you down or you can use it as motivation in the right way.”