Heading into free agency this summer, forward Milan Lucic can expect to get paid. His past performance, including a championship in Boston, along with his reputation of being a big, physical player will ensure that there will be many teams interested in signing him, ready to pay top dollar for the 27 year old. He'll be coming off of a three year deal that he signed with Boston, which paid him $18 million.
With Peter Chiarelli managing the Oilers now, there will definitely be some chatter about Lucic signing in Edmonton. But there are a few things to consider if Edmonton wants go down that route.
First off, adding Lucic is going to require a heavy contract, likely in the 6-7 year range. It's likely his last "big' contract, so I wouldn't expect he and his agent to sign for a discount unless it's with a legitimate contender like Los Angeles. Adding him would require the Oilers to move out another contract, or two, plus somehow find enough cap space to sign a few unrestricted (and possibly restricted) free agent defencemen.
The other thing to consider is that signing Lucic will likely require a team to pay for the tail end of his career, when he's very unlikely to be a productive asset. Based on the history of similar players who played a physical style, we know that investing in these types of assets is often a bad idea (Source: Hockey Graphs). The Oilers have to exercise caution as someone like Lucic is likely to regress quicker as he ages.
Really, the Oilers have invested enough time and money shaping their forward group, and in fact already have a physical, productive winger in Benoit Pouliot. The 29-year old has three years remaining at $4 million per season, which is great for the Oilers as it ensures that they have him while he's in his absolute prime. He's a legitimate top six player who has strong possession numbers and can put points up. He's often a positive influence on linemates when it comes to possession, and has meshed well with any of the top line players including Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jordan Eberle and now Connor McDavid.
He also compares very well to Lucic, who himself can be considering a top six guy, despite his struggles in Boston last season (Appendix A). When it comes to points per 60 at even strength, the two have typically been around 2.00 (Source: War on Ice)
Lucic appears to be regressing over the past few seasons, but might see a bounce back in production with the Kings. We know that LA is a ridiculously good team right now, so his value might get a little over inflated as he plays top line minutes with guys like Jeff Carter, Anze Kopitar and Drew Doughty. Pouliot on the other hand looks to have found some consistency, with one spike in the lockout season. Otherwise, he's right around the 2.00 mark. Worth noting that the two were teammates in Boston in 2011/12, with Lucic getting more minutes on the top line, while Pouliot was more of a depth player before getting dealt to Tampa Bay.
I also looked into how the two compared possession-wise in relation to their teammates since 2008.
Again, we see how consistent Pouliot has been, often being on the plus side, while Lucic has struggled in his last two seasons in Boston, even getting healthy scratched at one point. Lucic's possession numbers are up this season, but that's likely because he's with LA who have been absolute demons when it comes to shot attempts. It's not often that a player can consistently have a positive Corsi Rel year over year, making Pouliot well worth the investment made in 2014.
I don't really see why the Oilers would need to invest heavily on a winger like Milan Lucic when (1) there are pressing needs elsewhere on the roster, and (2) they already have a very productive and well-priced winger in Benoit Pouliot. My hope is that Zack Kassian satisfies the "toughness" and "meanness" needs of management and fans, as he has thus far shown to be a pretty reliable player. We won't know what the specific needs are for the Oilers until the end of the season, but I'm hoping to hear fewer Lucic-to-Edmonton rumors going forward.
Appendix A: Warrior Chart (Source: Own the Puck)