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Milan Lucic joins Oilers to play with Connor McDavid

Forward signs seven-year contract with Edmonton, rejoins Chiarelli

by Derek Van Diest / Correspondent

EDMONTON -- Left wing Milan Lucic said the opportunity to play with center Connor McDavid was the main reason he signed a seven-year contract with the Edmonton Oilers on Friday.

Lucic, 28, reportedly signed for $42 million, an average annual value of $6 million, and is expected to get a chance to play with McDavid, the No. 1 pick in the 2015 NHL Draft, on the Oilers' top line.

Lucic had 20 goals and 55 points in 81 games with the Los Angeles Kings last season. The signing reunites him with Oilers general manager Peter Chiarelli, who was the GM with Lucic a top-line forward when the Bruins won the Stanley Cup in 2011.

"Connor McDavid," Lucic said when asked his No. 1 reason for selecting Edmonton. "And also my loyalty to Peter. I was with him for eight years in Boston and saw what he was able to do with the team there, with what he had, and turned us into champions.

Video: VAN@EDM: McDavid puts puck past Markstrom for a PPG

"And going back to McDavid, just getting an opportunity to play with one of the best players of this time. I know he missed a good chuck of the season last year with an injury (to his collarbone), but from what I saw and what he was able to do, he's definitely up there with the [Sidney] Crosbys of the world and his ability.

"To have that opportunity to play with a player like that doesn't come around so often, and I think having an opportunity to play with a guy like that, there is definitely light at the end of the tunnel here."

The Oilers finished 29th in the NHL standings last season and failed to qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the 10th consecutive year. Chiarelli was hired by the Oilers on April 24, 2015, nine days after being fired by the Bruins, and has made major changes.

On Wednesday, Chiarelli traded all-star left wing Taylor Hall, the No. 1 pick in the 2010 NHL Draft, to the New Jersey Devils for defenseman Adam Larsson. Chiarelli said he did not trade Hall because the Oilers were close to signing Lucic.

"That deal was being done, there was absolutely no connection to this," Chiarelli said. "Milan told me some of the teams -- there were 12 teams -- and he told me some of the teams that were the finalists, and there were good teams and good managers and good players and all that stuff. With Milan, he wants to win, and that's the biggest thing; I've seen him in winning situations, and he's what we need in that sense."

Lucic was the first of two free agent acquisitions by Edmonton. The Oilers signed goaltender Jonas Gustavsson to a one-year contract reportedly worth $800,000. He is expected to back up Cam Talbot.

Lucic became a highly sought unrestricted free agent after he did not re-sign with the Kings, who acquired him from the Bruins in June 2015 in a trade for goaltender Martin Jones, defenseman Colin Miller and their first-round pick in the 2015 NHL Draft.

Video: ANA@LAK: Lucic deposits backhand for 20th goal

"Obviously it's a big signing for the Edmonton Oilers," Chiarelli said. "There is a lot of familiarity with me and Milan. You can tell he's a very sincere individual and he's a terrific and impactful player. He's going to change a lot of things here just by the way he plays, the way he leads. I've known him for a long time, I've seen him grow as a person, and I'm very happy to have him here."

The Oilers courted Lucic in the week leading up to the start of free agency Friday, showing him their new downtown arena, Rogers Place.

"It's pretty unbelievable; I'm thankful that I got to take a tour of it on Tuesday," Lucic said. "What [owner] Mr. [Daryl] Katz is doing for this team and for this city and for the fans with what he's building here is truly unbelievable. I think it's not only the best arena in hockey, I think it's the best arena in the world for sports, and I think he's giving the Oilers fans something truly special to be able to watch their team in a building like that. It's another reason why I wanted to be a part of it."

Lucic said Chiarelli will be able to put a winning team together in Edmonton.

"The pieces that he put in place in order for us to be a champion in Boston, I saw it happen firsthand," Lucic said. "It's making the right moves at the right time, having the right fit, and I have full confidence him that he's going to do that here in Edmonton."

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