Milan Lucic, Boston’s second round draft pick from 2006, has made an impact on the NHL as big as his 6'4, 220-pound frame. Lucic has left a handful of tough veterans battered and bruised, and a recent commitment to offense has seen his production rise as well.
Since early December, he has been scoring at a decent clip, potting five goals and eight assists. His upside is intriguing, especially because of his physical play. Finding wingers who are offensive stars and rack up the penalty minutes are golden in fantasy leagues. Brenden Morrow appeared well on his way, but has toned down his penalty totals after being handed the C in Dallas.
I had the pleasure of watching Lucic develop his skills as a Vancouver Giant in the WHL. He was a feared fighter around the league, and was a stand-up captain. His development as a slow, plodding forward to a legitimate NHL prospect was not instant; Lucic worked tirelessly on his skating and play with and without the puck. As soon as he got a crack at making the Bruins this season, there was no looking back to junior hockey.
As for his upside (i.e. fantasy hockey relevance), that is where things get interesting. Lucic has a great, heavy shot and has criminally underrated playmaking skills. His skating is still a weakness, but once he gets going he is an extremely intimidating force patrolling the wing. The B’s have big plans for him, and his recent production has shown that he appears to have the offensive potential to be a legitimate top-six forward. His upside is 30 goals, and even more assists. A fantasy line of 30 goals, 40 assists and 200 penalty minutes should have prospective fantasy owners drooling. Don’t expect Milan to abandon the fighting aspect though; he has shown in numerous fights that he can chuck fists and hurt people.
Boston appears to slowly be developing an identity through trades and drafts. Lucic is a part of a balanced offensive core including star Marc Savard, and fellow youngsters Chuck Kobasew, Phil Kessel, Zach Hamil, and so on. Look for Lucic’s offensive numbers to steadily climb over the coming seasons as the Bruins try and figure out exactly what type of player they have on their hands: the next Cam Neely, perhaps? Both are British Columbia boys, and have more in common than you may think. Lucic lacks Neely’s goal scoring ability and has a much different pedigree, but there is enough in common to warrant the comparison.
The Bruins are a ways away from returning to the days of fighting fans and running over other teams, Lucic is a throwback Bruin if there ever was one.