The Boston Bruins have made what could be their last contract move before the projected start of a lockout at 11:59 p.m. tonight, extending Milan Lucic (number 86 on Rant Sports’ Top 100 NHL Players) for three more years. The signing was considered a possibility after Brad Marchand and Tyler Seguin both got contract extensions recently.
His new contract is worth $6 million a year, a raise of about $2 million from his most recent contract, which was also a three-year deal. It carries a $6 million cap hit.
Lucic is the first member of the Bruins’ top line to be re-signed. David Krejci has a contract that is still valid until 2015-16 and Nathan Horton‘s contract expires next summer.
Last season, Lucic had a career-high campaign in terms of assists, posting 35 helpers, and his 26 goals had him just one point shy of his career high. He was one of six Bruins to score more than 20 goals for the season and was the first NHL player to hit both 20 goals and 100 penalty minutes. Only five other players achieved this. However, he did struggle at times in the absence of Horton–as did the entire team, really, at times–and he ignited a newly-heated feud with the Buffalo Sabres and their fans when he ran into a far-out-of-the-net Ryan Miller in November.
The season before was a big year for Lucic. Bouncing back from injuries, Lucic put away 30 goals and 32 assists for that high-water point mark of 62. He led the team in scoring, had 30 goals and more than100 penalty minutes for the season (one of only two players to do this) and had 12 points as the Bruins raced to the Stanley Cup and won it in his hometown of Vancouver.
In fact, in every season Lucic has spent with the Bruins, the team has made the playoffs.
He won the Seventh Player Award in 2008 as a rookie for a most impressive season that included a Gordie Howe hat trick in that trial period NHL teams are allowed before sending junior-eligible players back to their junior clubs. In 2006, he was drafted 50th overall by the Bruins and won the Memorial Cup with his junior team in 2007.
Lucic recently told NESN that he will stay around Boston in the event of a lockout. He may be a little less able to move freely around, considering his wife is pregnant, but other Bruins said they’ll stick around the city too and continue to work out and skate together.