From Boston to Los Angeles, Milan Lucic may have traded teams, but certain things have stayed the same.
Like the Bruins, the Kings have won at least one Stanley Cup in the recent past. Like Boston, Los Angeles missed out on the playoffs by two points last season after a long run of postseason berths.
And the teams will have the same hard-hitting, high-energy Lucic, who was officially introduced to the media Saturday as a member of the Kings.
For a bruiser such as Lucic, it’s a great match. Last season, the 27-year-old left wing led all Bruins in hits and was tied for 10th in the NHL. He joins a Kings squad that has been second in the league in hits per game for the last four years.
“The last couple years, they’ve been that heavy, strong, intimidating, rough and tough team, and my style of play fits in perfectly with who they already are,” Lucic said. “So it’s not like I’m coming to change the culture of the team. And that’s what made this move perfect in a lot of people’s eyes.”
Lucic is not known as an enforcer around the league, but he has developed a reputation for intimidating opponents and throwing his body around to defend his teammates. The Kings have finished in the middle of the pack when it comes to penalty minutes and fights in the last few years, but Lucic said that style of play is essential to his game.
“The intimidating factor is still a big part of the game, and I play with that mean streak,” Lucic said. “To be honest, that’s the reason I was able to get to this level, having that mean streak and physical game.”
Lucic was also third on the Bruins in points last year, but suffered a 15-point drop in production from 2013-2014. He scored 18 goals, but has had three seasons of 24 or more, including one 30-goal year.
He will probably be paired on the Kings’ first line with center Anze Kopitar and right wing Marian Gaborik, and said Saturday that he feels capable of returning to the 30-goal level if he plays at his best with the two.
The Kings gave the Bruins backup goaltender Martin Jones, defensive prospect Colin Miller and the 13th overall pick in the 2015 draft for Lucic. Jones was later traded to San Jose.
As the 2014-15 season drew to a close and it became clear the Bruins would not make the playoffs, Lucic said he became very aware of the trade rumors swirling around him, despite the fact that he had spent eight years with the club and had become a fan favorite.
But even though he did hear the rumors, Lucic said he was surprised to find out that L.A. was his landing spot.
“It kind of seemed like the Kings were set,” Lucic said. “Without me, they’re still one of the top five teams in the league. Looking at the salary cap and all the players here and all that stuff, and I’m not a cheap cap hit, so that’s why I didn’t really expect it, but when it happened, I was more than thrilled.”
In 2012, Lucic signed a three-year extension worth $18 million with the Bruins to keep him under contract until after the 2015-16 season. In the trade, the Kings agreed to take on $2.75 million of that deal.
And although he said Saturday that he wants to stay in Los Angeles beyond the remaining year on his contract, Lucic also said he and his agent have not begun talks with Kings General Manager Dean Lombardi.
As for the pressure of playing for a new team during a contract year, Lucic said he doesn’t expect that to be a problem. Instead, he said he feels like a rookie again, eager to fit in and prove himself.
“It’s lit a spark underneath me to be excited to be headed into a season with a great team like this. I just want to do whatever I can to help.”