The Edmonton Oilers traded forward Taylor Hall to end the month of June, helping them acquire some much-needed help on the right side with the addition of defenseman Adam Larsson. To fill the void on the first line LW, the Oilers signed Milan Lucic to a hefty seven-year, $42 million deal.
The 6-foot-3, 233-pound winger is expected to start on the first line, bringing more toughness, physicality and offense. Lucic is poised to play alongside centre Connor McDavid, and the two are expected to be a lethal combination. Throw in Jordan Eberle, and it’s a deadly first line.
However, many questions surround Lucic’s role with the team, as well as his continued ability down the road. The 28-year-old is entering a long-term deal, and many worry that he will start to decline with age, while others believe he will fare just fine. Overall, here are some expectations for the upcoming year.
Lucic Brings Plenty of Offensive Ability
One concern is that Lucic, famous for his tough-guy demeanour and ruggedness, will not put up as much offense, and would therefore not fill the void of Taylor Hall.
However, despite this concern, Lucic actually possesses strong statistics and scoring ability. To show his ability to score and generate offensive opportunities, here’s a chart looking at Lucic’s offensive capabilities over the last three seasons.
As we can see, Lucic brings a lot to the table, including impeccable point production per 60. He is a physical player who can not only throw multiple hits and play a strong two-way game, but he has the ability to score goals and make critical plays.
Lucic has nine NHL seasons under his belt and has scored over 40 points in all but three of those years. Four out of six of those 40-point campaigns were 60+ point years. He is capable of scoring goals, but also playmaking. His speed, size and heavy shot are just some attributes that make him an asset.
In the end, though Lucic may not be able to fully replace Hall, he can provide offense and be even more of an outstanding asset to the Oilers, especially when you look at the situation beyond statistics.
Lucic Will Change the Culture
The Oilers needed a change of culture in the locker room. After the Oilers season ended, NHL insider Pierre LeBrun speculated that there was were issues in the team’s locker room. Hall stated in his exit interview that it was “hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel,” and did not appear incredibly optimistic about the year going forward.
Lucic, the acquisition of Larsson and draft pick Jesse Puljujarvi are reasons to be positive. The former Bruins winger has said that he wants to help make this team better and that he is ready to bring a positive attitude and mentality to the dressing room.
“I’ve always been a positive guy,” Lucic told Jason Gregor. “I will bring that to Edmonton, where things haven’t been that positive lately.”
As we already know, Lucic also brings physicality to the team, and in addition to Patrick Maroon, Zack Kassian, Matt Hendricks and Darnell Nurse, the Oilers have become one of the toughest teams in the National Hockey League.
I’m expecting 55 points from Lucic with probably 20 goals and 35 assists. It is not too much to expect, and these are the types of numbers he consistently puts up each year. Hypothetically speaking, Lucic is projected to play alongside McDavid and Eberle, so it is reasonable to expect numbers in the 50-point range.
I ultimately think his strongest impact will come in the way that he changes the team attitude, brings optimism and leadership to the locker room and improves overall team culture. Lucic will make a perfect addition to the Oilers core.