When the Edmonton Oilers signed Milan Lucic in free agency this summer to a seven-year, $42 million contract, the anticipation seemed to be that he would not only bring a much-needed top-six winger and some “swagger” to the team, but that he would also serve as some added muscle to help protect the team’s biggest superstar, Connor McDavid.
Whether that sort of physical play actually serves as a deterrent to a star player taking some abuse from opponents is certainly up for some debate, but it didn’t even take Lucic one full period on McDavid’s wing to drop his gloves and come to his defense.
With just a little under five minutes to play in the first period, McDavid and Calgary Flames defenseman Deryk Engelland were involved in a collision that resulted in McDavid sliding into the boards. Almost immediately Lucic — who only fought three times a season ago as a member of the Los Angeles Kings — was standing there to drop the gloves with Engelland.
Have a look.
Thre really wasn’t anything out of the ordinary on that play involving Engelland and McDavid, and a fight is probably an excessive response to that hit, but McDavid had been knocked down earlier in the game by Flames defenseman Mark Giordano and briefly went back to the locker room.
At that point Lucic probably felt it was his duty to do something. If he does that every time McDavid gets bumped this season, though, he is going to be spending an awful lot of time in the penalty box, and every five minutes he spends sitting there that is five minutes he is not on the ice. Given that Lucic is one of their best players, they are probably going to need him on the ice more.