The Bruins saved the biggest piece for last, literally and figuratively, by inking power forward Milan Lucic to a three-year contract extension worth 18 million, and then announcing it on Saturday morning.
Lucic will be the highest paid forward on the Bruins starting in 2013-14 when he will get paid 6 million per year for three seasons, and hell be expected to bring even more now that hes getting paid like an elite NHL player.
Theres obviously going to be more pressure with making more money and you also have to embrace that challenge and embrace the struggle that it takes to win, said Lucic. But I think it all makes us aware because we had that Stanley Cup feeling, but then we lost it. Then we want to do whatever we can to get our hands on the Cup again.
So we definitely have to embrace the struggle and embrace the challenges were going to be faced with along the way. But definitely now that were more of a talk of the town here in Boston, theres obviously pressure that comes with that.
The new deal buys up two years of unrestricted free agency in the current CBA, and still leaves Lucic free for one big contract when he hits 28 years old in the middle of his prime.
Lucic was voted as the toughest player in the NHL last season by his peers, hes one of only three players to total 25 goals and 100 PIMs in each of the last two years and hes a signature player in Bostons run of hockey success over the last five years.
Hes a solid contributor and what I like to call him at times a signature player that likes to be physical and loves to play the game, said Chiarelli. Hes a big part of this team. He marks the end of three signings that he marked the course for over the last few weeks. Im happy that weve completed them.
It shows a commitment by Milan and the rest of the players to commit to the organization, and it shows a commitment from the ownership in Mister Jeremy Jacobs and Charlie Jacobs. It takes a player and a team to be in concert here.
He joins Tyler Seguin and Brad Marchand as young players that have signed extensions over the last week a raft of contracts worth 70.5 million that Bs owner Jeremy Jacobs signed off on before locking out the players at midnight over the same players making too much money. Lucic was happy to know where hell be for the next four years, and vowed to step up his performance both on-ice and off-ice now that hes one of the big pieces in the puzzle.
Ive spent five years in the city and Ive embraced both Boston and the Boston Bruins, said Lucic, who weighed the possibility of waiting until a new CBA was implemented but wanted piece of mind with the three-year deal. Theyve also embraced me. Im happy to be remaining a part of this and very excited about it. Theres no other organization in the NHL that Id rather play for.
We believe in the teams play and I believe in the team that we have here. Were competitors. Being an athlete in Boston has been one of the best experiences in my whole life, and to be able to continue that is a dream come true. To be embraced by the fans has been awesome.
Lucic has become the leagues prototypical power forward over the last couple of seasons while racking up goals, points, hits, and fights (nine last season including a thrashing of Brandon Prust in front of a national audience at Madison Square Garden), but Chiarelli hopes to see more consistency out of his player. That includes the postseason where Lucic has slacked recently (five goals and 15 points in 32 games over the last two years) after bursting on the scene as a big game player in the playoffs during first three years.
This could apply to any of our players and what theyve heard from both me and the coaches is about consistency, said Chiarelli. Its something that all players strive to improve. Milans game is a unique and to play that game at a more consistent pace and level would make him even better than he is now. We all want to be more consistent, including myself.
The signings of Lucic, Marchand and Seguin will make Chiarellis job much easier following this upcoming season with only (restricted) Tuukka Rask, Andrew Ference and Nathan Horton now approaching free agency. Before it appeared that the Bruins were going to face some major decisions after this upcoming season, but now they have a solid core intact that will face adjustments once the new CBA is drawn up, approved and implemented at some point in the future.