What could Milan Lucic fetch the Calgary Flames on the trade market?
Photo credit:James Carey Lauder-USA TODAY Sports
1 month ago
The way the season is going so far, the roster itself hasn’t exactly inspired Calgary Flames management to buy. Calgary invested in some long term contracts in the off-season so forcing something for the immediate now comes across as a big mistake. So to add to the Trade Target series I usually do I thought I would add in a selling target and see what they could possibly be worth on the open market.
This is not to say I dislike the player or anything like that – this is simply looking at expiring contracts (1-2 years remaining) and seeing if anything could be got for them should Calgary continue to slide down the standings rather than move up.
First up is the guy with the best reputation – and more in the tank than you would presume with how fans have talked about him this year – Milan Lucic.
Number one thing that needs mentioned is with his full no movement clause if Milan Lucic does not want to go anywhere he won’t. If he does waive his NMC then he can submit a list of 10 teams he’s willing to be traded to.
The team acquiring him would have to take the full brunt of the cap hit ($5.25 million), but the real dollar value is next to nothing. He got his signing bonus of $3 million already and is working off a pro-rated salary of $1 million, something every team in the league should be able to actually take on financially. If Calgary wanted to eat (up to) 50% to lower the cap hit the actual cash cost towards the owner is extremely limited.
Offensive zone impact
While it’s not crazy good Lucic does have a unique skill that does put him in a respectable standing amongst his peers – he’s good at forechecking and causing loose pucks. Now it doesn’t translate to much offence – or it hasn’t lately – but he’s still good at separating puck from body down low after a dump-in. After that he can struggle with positioning to help keep an attack alive, but does make sure to get back defensively every single time.
This chart shows an isolated impact – meaning we are able to successfully account for teammates, scoring situation, coaching system, etc. – largely getting to that this is what Lucic contributes individually to the team in his ice time. No it is not flattering as his rebound chances he creates tend to be not very dangerous at all. In fact they just lose possession most of the time those happen.
His offensive impact has not been a positive for a while. This is going to diminish the possible return from someone wanting to acquire him.
Defensive zone impact
I show this player card from AllThreeZones.com because it highlights an area that Lucic can still help in. He is good at doing the right thing in his own defensive zone. He doesn’t run around trying to cover for the defence or centre but rather does his job of being a passing outlet and trying to get the puck out fairly well. He still has a high fail % which once again would diminish a potential return.
(For those curious these are not tracked with a chip of any kind – they are manually done by a gentleman named Corey Sznajder. He watches the games on replay, slows everything down so he doesn’t miss anything, and then enters the data into his database. I consider it a highly reliable source and the single best public one available for raw transitional data.)
Very clearly we can see Lucic is still a very adept forechecker and still plays with an ability to keep his own side of the defensive zone impacted with a lower volume of shots.
Here is where you can find your value for a player like Lucic. Veteran guy, over 1,000 games, good in the room, works hard, former Stanley Cup champion, toughest guy in the league – you name the intangible value and it’s almost a guarantee it is attached to Lucic’s name. If a team wants a fourth line left wing that can play a physical game, Lucic could be an option. How much does one pay for the intangibles though?
A team acquiring Lucic would not be in it for his scoring acumen. No, he’s rather set in what he does now – but his experience could be good for a young team that’s heading into the playoffs. He’s one of four pending UFAs (along with Michael Stone, Trevor Lewis and Brett Ritchie) and his name alone seemingly would command the best return.
Again, this is only necessary if the Flames continue to lose this season and stray a bit further from a playoff spot.
Calgary only has five picks this draft (in the 1st, 2nd, 4th, 6th, and 7th rounds), all being their own picks. Recouping any asset for Lucic if the playoffs are going to be missed is a win for the Flames. If anybody calls for him and he’s willing to go there, it should be done.
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