Milan Lucic on possibly joining the Vancouver Canucks

Edmonton Oilers forward Milan Lucic talked to Sportsnet 650 and said he’s thought about playing for the hometown Vancouver Canucks one day.

Three years ago, Vancouver Canucks general manager Jim Benning made it clear that he was interested in power forward and local kid Milan Lucic in free agency.

Lucic, of course, ended up signing a seven-year deal worth $42 million with the Edmonton Oilers. Instead of playing for his hometown club, Lucic simply couldn’t pass up the opportunity to play with Connor McDavid and company.

The 30-year-old Lucic had a productive first season in Edmonton, notching 23 goals and 50 points. But he finished with just 10-24-34 in 2017-18 and a career-low six goals and only 20 points this season.

Even though he’s under contract for four more years in Edmonton, Lucic explained in an interview with Sportsnet 650 (h/t Sportsnet’s Mike Johnston), that he’s thought about someday playing for his hometown team:

“It’s definitely something I wouldn’t rule out. It’s obviously something that could still happen. Things haven’t gone that well for me here with the Oilers, especially the last year and a half. New GM, new coach, which haven’t even been named yet, so you don’t know what their plan is moving forward and stuff like that. It’s definitely something that potentially could happen.”

Lucic called the Canucks “a very exciting team,” and praised the work of Benning and head coach Travis Green. Lucic also talked about voicing his desire to play for Vancouver back at the 2007 Memorial Cup — where he led the Giants to a championship right here in his home city.

I did explain here why the Canucks should consider a trade with the Oilers, where a Lucic-for-Loui Eriksson could make sense under certain conditions. But ultimately, it’s tough to envision the Canucks bringing Lucic aboard in the immediate future.

It’s always a nice story when a player gets to join his hometown team, but Lucic will be 35 when his contract expires. And if he isn’t a productive scorer by that point of his career, it’s highly unlikely the Canucks would take him on.

Vancouver’s only chance to bring Lucic home was during 2016 free agency, but the Oilers won the sweepstakes, and Benning went on to give Eriksson a six-year contract worth $36 million. Obviously, neither signing has panned out.

Benning was assistant general manager of the Boston Bruins when they won the Stanley Cup in 2011, and Lucic was part of that team. There’s obviously a special connection there, so maybe Benning would like to bring Lucic aboard someday.

But if that doesn’t happen, Lucic will always be remembered for leading the Vancouver Giants to the 2007 Memorial Cup. And even though it’s unlikely he will ever play for the Canucks, credit Lucic for refusing to up on the dream.