The Los Angeles Kings pulled off a big trade with the Boston Bruins at the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. The Kings sent the rights for backup goaltender Martin Jones, defensive prospect Colin Miller and the 13th overall pick in the draft in for left winger Milan Lucic.
With Lucic joining the lineup and Justin Williams leaving, the lineup will see some changes. So what does Lucic bring to the Kings?
Lucic is a typical power forward. He’s big, strong and tough. At 6’4” and 235 pounds, he can demolish players in the corners, as well as being a real pain in front of the net for the opposing goaltender and defense. He utilizes his size well and is good at breaking in on net when given the opportunity.
He’s sort of a bull in a china shop, and is one of those guys that you love to have on your team, but absolutely hate when he’s on an opposing team.
From all the talk that we’ve heard and read since the trade took place, Lucic will join Anze Kopitar and Marian Gaborik on the top line for the Kings. Having a wrecking ball like Lucic (that also has a knack for scoring goals) next to a playmaker of Kopitar’s caliber and a sniper like Gaborik could be a recipe for success.
The Kings had trouble scoring last season, finishing 18th in goals for, and Lucic has been a reliable goalscorer for most of his career. He had a down year last season, but Boston in general had a pretty tough campaign as they missed out on the playoffs.
Milan Lucic's HERO chart. pic.twitter.com/3ao0p2rOgq
— Sebastian Norén (@SebNoren) July 6, 2015
With the big shakeups in Boston under new general manager Don Sweeney, trading away not only Lucic, but also sending defenseman Dougie Hamilton to the Calgary Flames, the Kings found themselves a great addition for the upcoming season. The Bruins also retained about half of Lucic contract, landing him at a cap hit of $3.25 million for the Kings next season.
It’s the last season of a three-year deal Lucic signed with the Bruins, but with the Kings looking to get straight back into the playoffs and contend for the cup, the length of Lucic’s contract isn’t a big deal right now.
He will be a great addition on the power play for the Kings as he can stand in front of the net and screen the goalie and keep defenders busy, and most likely deflecting in a couple of pucks. The prospect of putting Lucic, Kopitar, Gaborik, Jeff Carter, and Drew Doughty on the power play is something that should gets plenty of Kings fans excited.
With Lucic in the lineup, we could see the Kings put out four really solid forward lines that could look something like this:
Lucic – Kopitar – Gaborik
Pearson – Carter – Toffoli
Weal/King – Shore – Brown
Clifford – Lewis – Nolan
The top two lines just oozes with skill and they should score the majority of the goals for the Kings. But the bottom six includes a couple of guys that could chip in some much needed secondary scoring. Jordan Weal had a great season in the AHL with the Manchester Monarchs and he should get a proper look in the NHL this season. And a line that has two tough guys like Clifford and Nolan in it will make life difficult for the opposition as they love to use their bodies and deal out some heavy hits.
Losing Williams is a blow as he’s been a great player for the Kings, especially in the playoffs. But Lucic is a guy that could be a real difference maker, and having him next to Kopitar seems like a great fit. Although he has played with some good centers in Boston, Kopitar’s playmaking abilities are a notch above both David Krejci and Patrice Bergeron. It wouldn’t surprise me if Lucic scores closer to 30 goals this season, especially if head coach Darryl Sutter makes sure to park Lucic in front of the net on the power play.
As long as Lucic can make the transition from the Eastern Conference to the West and the life in Los Angeles, the Kings should have a great shot at making it back into the Stanley Cup playoffs.