A power forward like Milan Lucic would have added extra heft to an already stout Bruins roster this season.
Don Sweeney and the Bruins were very busy at the trade deadline, acquiring three key pieces in Dmitry Orlov, Garnet Hathaway, and Tyler Bertuzzi to further bolster a stacked roster.
But amid their flurry of moves over the last few weeks, was Boston also looking to bring back a fan favorite for this Cup run?
Based on some of the rumors that Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman fielded in wake of the NHL trade deadline, the Bruins were apparently kicking the tires on a reunion with Milan Lucic this spring.
“The wildest one I actually heard — and it obviously didn’t happen — was Lucic and Boston about the possibility of him going and having one last ride with the Bruins,” Friedman said on his “32 Thoughts” podcast. “But I don’t even know that it even happened.”
Of course, it’d come as no surprise if Lucic was interested in rejoining his old teammates during this promising season.
Not only does the 34-year-old winger still have close ties to many of his old Bruins teammates, but Lucic’s current team is trending in the opposite direction of Boston.
With the Flames mired in a 3-5-2 slump and sitting fifth overall in the Pacific Division, Calgary GM Brad Treliving could have opted to move Lucic for the right price, especially if Boston came knocking.
The challenge for Boston beyond relinquishing more assets might have come down to where exactly the power forward would fit in the B’s lineup.
Add in that Boston is already tapping into its long-term injured reserve (LTIR) cap pool to accommodate Bertuzzi’s contract, and dealing for Lucic might have been too challenging for Sweeney to pull off.
But if need be, Boston had the option to place Nick Foligno (out with a lower-body injury) on LTIR alongside Taylor Hall, giving the Bruins more leeway to take on money beyond the league’s $82.5 million cap upper limit. As such, Boston had options if it needed to take on some (or all) of Lucic’s $5.25 million cap hit.
And much like how Bertuzzi is serving as a very strong contingency plan if Hall is not available to play in the postseason, Lucic could have served a similar role in Foligno’s spot on the checking line as a physical equalizer.
He may not be the 25 or 30-goal menace he was during his prime years in Boston, but the 6-foot-3, 240-pound Lucic still stands in a class by himself when it comes to his punishing hits and pure intimidation tactics on the ice.
Through 61 games this season, Lucic has five goals and 14 points while averaging 11:31 of ice time per game with the Flames. He has doled out 136 hits this season (only Hathaway, Connor Clifton, and Foligno have more on Boston’s roster), along with three fighting majors.
Tapping into nostalgia is rarely a best practice when it comes to building a winning product out on the ice.
But if Lucic’s duties back in Boston primarily revolved around landing welts against opponents, the 2011 Stanley Cup champion still has the means to make an impact on a contending team.
A reunion wasn’t in the cards for the Bruins and Lucic this season.
But with Lucic set to hit free agency this offseason, and the B’s likely in need of some hometown-discount deals in order to navigate a looming cap crunch, time will tell if Sweeney kicks the tires on the former Bruins bruiser once again this summer.
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