October 29, 2008

Milan Lucic: Team Canada 2010?

This is Milan Lucic. As captain of Team Canada in 2007 he is hoisting the "Super Series" trophy after annihilating the Team Russia.

Lucic has been in the news a bit lately. First for doing what he is known best for - hitting hard. He put Mike Van Ryn through the glass. Then he did something he may also become known for - he scored a hat trick. For both of these reasons Lucic has become a fan favorite in Boston, similar in both style of play and level of adoration as Terry O'Reilly, and maybe one day Cam Neely.

Born in Vancouver to Serbian immigrants, Lucic starred with the WHL's Vancouver Giants, bringing the Memorial Cup to the BC's Lower Mainland before making it to the NHL. On Tuesday night he played his first game in his hometown.

You might hear Milan Lucic's name a lot more in the news in the months ahead. I think he's got a chance to vie for a spot for Team Canada at the 2010 Olympics.

With a good offensive season Lucic should play himself into consideration for the Canadian Olympic team. He is playing with Marc Savard on the top line at the moment, though he is only on the second unit PP. He has a devastating shot.

Lucic is an imposing and at times mean hitter, intense and hard driving, a perfect candidate for a true 4th line role should Canada adopt such a strategy. Perhaps a line with Mike Richards and Brendan Morrow could create energy and havoc.

Like Richards and Morrow currently are, I believe Lucic will become the complete package. He shows great poise with the puck, and has good speed, though he looks clumsy out of the blocks. Shane Doan will definitely be penciled in for this roster spot, but with some work on his skating, continued improvement on his defensive assignments, and a few more goals this season, I think we will definitely be debating whether Milan Lucic should be playing in his hometown for the 2010 Olympic Games.

It will be interesting to see Steve Yzerman's take on a player like Lucic. Previous manager Wayne Gretzky fully appreciates what a player like Lucic can do. Back in the Canada Cup tournaments of 1987 and 1991, Gretzky was surrounded by Lucic comparables like Rick Tocchet, Kevin Dineen and Brent Sutter. Losing his spot on the team to make room for such essential players was none other than Steve Yzerman.

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