Lucic traded to Kings by Bruins for Jones, pickby Curtis Zupke
LOS ANGELES -- Milan Lucic was traded from the Boston Bruins to the Los Angeles Kings on Friday for goalie Martin Jones, defense prospect Colin Miller and the No. 13 pick in the 2015 NHL Draft.
Lucic is looking forward to joining the two-time Stanley Cup champion Kings, who could put him at left wing on a line with Anze Kopitar at center and Marian Gaborik at right wing.
"I think that's the most exciting thing about moving from Boston; I get to move on to a team that already knows how to win," Lucic said. "The possibility of playing with two really great players, [Kopitar] and [Gaborik], it's a really great feeling. … I think we're top two or three in the League right now as far as contenders."
The trade gained serious traction Thursday night, Kings general manager Dean Lombardi said.
Lombardi said he inquired about Lucic at the end of the season, but talks with Boston went nowhere at that time. The Kings wanted to acquire a forward given it's a strong possibility they could lose right wing Justin Williams and center Jarret Stoll, who can become unrestricted free agents July 1. Lombardi also said they think Gaborik could be better on the right side after playing a lot on the left in Los Angeles.
The 6-foot-3, 228-pound Lucic is a three-time 20-goal scorer who gives the Kings a bruising forward in the rugged Western Conference. Lucic has also been durable, having played 566 of a possible 622 regular-season games.
"We felt that we didn't have the ideal fit for that box, and we had a list of players that were an ideal fit, and there weren't many of them," Lombardi said. "There's not many like this in the League that can play with top players and bring that element."
Lucic can become an unrestricted free agent next summer. Lombardi said the culture of the Kings' dressing room is that players want to stay, and he thought the risk was worth it. The Bruins reportedly retained $2.7 million in Lucic's salary for the 2015-16 season.
"Given the fit, it made sense to push the envelope," the Kings GM said.
Lombardi stressed that acquiring Lucic was possible after right wing Tyler Toffoli re-signed Friday for a reported $6.5 million over two years. Toffoli could've become a restricted free agent July 1.
"Once this thing got rolling, we could not do this without Tyler signing," Lombardi said.
Perhaps it was a sign that Lucic visited Disneyland in nearby Anaheim with his family Thursday. He heard rumblings in the past few days that he could be traded, and by Friday afternoon he learned trips to "The Happiest Place on Earth" likely will become more frequent.
"I guess we've got to get an annual pass now," Lucic said.
Lucic, who had five goals and seven assists for the Bruins on their run to the Stanley Cup in 2011, had a take on why the Kings failed to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs this season, becoming the first defending champion to miss the postseason since the Carolina Hurricanes in 2007.
"I think a little bit of fatigue kicked in," Lucic said. "It catches up to you when you don't have a lot of time to rest. I think in a way it's a good thing going into next season that they didn't make the playoffs. It gives the players a good chance to get their rest and get energized … get hungry again. Obviously, there's no excuses with that heading into next season."
Lucic was still wrapping his head around leaving Boston, where he spent his first eight NHL seasons.
"It's where I grew as a person and the player that I am today," Lucic said. "I didn't know what to think, to be honest. I had a lot of mixed emotions in the last 48 hours. I kind of had that excited, nervous, sad feeling in my stomach this morning, like I knew something was happening."
Lucic also had strange vibes about the Kings in 2006, when he said he met with them three times before the draft and thought he was coming to Los Angeles. He ended up scoring his first NHL goal at Staples Center.
Lucic will be a new face in the Kings' dressing room, but he knows defenseman Drew Doughty from international play and roomed with center Jeff Carter in the 2014 Sochi Olympics camp.
"It's a complete fresh start; that's what I'm looking forward to the most," he said.