Milan Lucic

Milan Lucic says he knew future with Bruins depended on last season

DJ Bean
February 09, 2016 - 7:42 am
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This is Milan Lucic'€™s first season with the Kings and he hopes it isn'€™t his last. In addition to adjusting to a new team, Lucic also has to play with the added distraction of being in the final year of his contract. Different players handle contract years differently -- some post tremendous money in hopes of a huge pay day; some let the uncertainty consume them and ultimately detract from their play -- and Lucic is just trying to put it out of his mind. Interestingly enough, however, Lucic indicated Tuesday that last season saw more of those pressures get to him than this season. Though last season was the second year of a three-year, $18 million deal, Lucic knew that his future with the team depended on that season. He turned out to be correct, as the Bruins dealt him in the offseason rather than taking him into the last year of his contract. "I think I focused on it a little bit too much, especially in the first half of the the season, just the goals and the assists and the individual stuff," Lucic said. "Sometimes when things come up like a contract, it'€™s hard to ignore those king of things. That'€™s why I think when I stopped focusing on that and just worried about the things that mattered like winning hockey games, everything else kind of just fell into place. I tried to take that same mentality into this year." Lucic, 27, scored 24 or more goals three times with the Bruins. His numbers took a dip last season when he posted 18 goals, and he'€™s currently on pace for 19 goals. Even if he fails to hit the 20-goal mark for a second straight season, he will be an attractive option for either the Kings to re-sign (far from a certainty given cap constraints) or for another team to court on the open market. The Kings currently sit atop the Pacific Division with 65 points through 51 games. They have less than $3 million in cap space this season despite the fact that they are only paying a little more than half of Lucic's $6 million cap hit (the Bruins retained about $2.49 million cap-wise in the trade). Los Angeles does not have a ton of money coming off the books, while next season will see star center Anze Kopitar's cap hit rise from $6.8 million to $10 million. Despite all the uncertainty, Lucic says that he'€™s doing a better job of handling the unknown than he did a season ago. "I'€™m just focusing on the things that I can control, and that'€™s helping the team win," Lucic said. "I haven'€™t really been focusing too much on goals and assists and what I need to do to sign a big deal or anything like that. I'€™ve just been focused on winning hockey games and things like that. I think that'€™s kind of helped my play so far throughout the season." Added Lucic: "Looking at the team, we do have a real great team here with a real great chance here to be a contender. I'€™m just focusing more on that than the individual stuff."

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