Over the past few days, there have been rumors about the possibility that Milan Lucic would like to play in Toronto with the Maple Leafs. While last season, such a thought might have been a bit far-fetched, now with the presence of new Maple Leafs’ general manager (GM) Brad Treliving is there a chance the idea might be considered?
Treliving and Lucic Were Together with the Calgary Flames
Treliving has a history with Lucic during their time together in Calgary. Perhaps that adds an interesting dynamic to any speculation surrounding Lucic’s potential move to Toronto. But who knows, it’s one of those blowing-in-the-wind ideas, and the wind is swirling around in all directions.
Maple Leafs’ fans don’t even know if the two got along or what Treliving’s perspective about Lucic might be. That said, the fact that they did have a prior working relationship at least raises questions about the possibility of a reunion.
Considering the Possibilities
However, if such a reunion might be in the works, what potential impact could Lucic even have on the Maple Leafs’ roster?
Assuming the idea might be in the works, I’d like to weigh in on potential reasons why the Maple Leafs SHOULD sign Lucic, then suggest some cautions about signing him. Finally, I’ll land on my own answer.
Three Reasons Why the Maple Leafs Should Sign Milan Lucic
Reason One For Signing Lucic: His Physical Presence and Deterrence
Lucic brings a physical presence to any team he plays for. His size and toughness make opponents look up and around. That kind of deterrent on the ice keeps opponents from taking liberties with teammates.
Lucic’s physicality also adds a level of intimidation and protection to the Maple Leafs’ roster. It’s a way to keep the opposition from running the elite players on the team. He would provide a more protected environment for the team’s skilled players.
Reason Two For Signing Lucic: His Playoff Experience and Leadership
Lucic brings a wealth of playoff experience. That includes winning the Stanley Cup with the Boston Bruins in 2011. He also brings experience and leadership qualities that could become valuable for a team like the Maple Leafs.
The team, as always, is aiming to make a deep playoff run and hopes to contend for the Stanley Cup championship. Lucic’s mentorship could positively influence the team’s younger players and contribute to a winning culture.
Reason Three For Signing Lucic: His Depth and Flexibility
Lucic is not the player he once was in terms of offensive production. However, he can still provide depth to the lineup. He can play different roles, including a bottom-six forward or give the top-six a power-forward presence when needed.
His ability to contribute in a variety of situations could benefit the team. He would also add a different kind of depth to their forward group and provide options to the coaching staff.
Three Cautions that Suggest the Maple Leafs Should NOT Sign Lucic
Reason One For Not Signing Lucic: His Declining Production and Skill Set
Lucic’s offensive production has significantly declined in recent years. He’s no longer the scoring threat he was earlier in his career. The team needs to consider if his diminished offense can work within the team’s style of play and offensive system.
Signing Lucic just because he’s physical isn’t enough value if his offensive contributions slide.
Reason Two For Not Signing Lucic: His Potential Cap Space Allocation
If Lucic is signed, it would have to be at a significantly low salary cap hit. Otherwise, he could impact the team’s salary cap flexibility. The Maple Leafs need to be careful NOT to allocate salary cap space to a player with declining production or limited offensive upside.
That kind of choice would be illogical given the need for wisdom about the best use of their financial resources. Balancing a need for physicality with the necessary overall team-building strategy is crucial.
Reason Three For Not Signing Lucic: His Playing Time and Lineup Impact
Lucic’s role as a regular NHL player is far from guaranteed at this stage of his career. He might not be able to play regularly or maintain a consistent spot in the lineup. The Maple Leafs must carefully evaluate how Lucic’s limited playing time could impact team chemistry and roster cohesion.
As always, it’s a matter of whether the potential benefits outweigh the challenges of having Lucic on the roster
The Bottom Line
All those things considered, if I had a choice in the matter, I WOULD NOT sign Lucic to a contract. While a case can be made (as above) either for or against, the fact is that the lineup and the team’s roster should have as many spaces as possible for the young men toiling in the organization’s minor league system.
There are players who would appreciate and benefit from (as well as the entire organization) inclusion into the NHL lineup. I’d spend whatever salary and roster space on these youngsters.
For me, it’s that simple. Perhaps Lucic could add to the team; however, perhaps a player like Bobby McMann might as well. Then, he could do it again next season, too.
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