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Lucic primed for bounce-back season with Flames, coach says: report

Forward's physical play could provide spark for Calgary after trade from Oilers

NHL.com @NHLdotcom

Milan Lucic is "in phenomenal shape" and poised to have a bounce-back season, Calgary Flames coach Bill Peters told Sportsnet 960 in Calgary on Wednesday.

The 31-year-old forward was acquired in a trade with the Edmonton Oilers for forward James Neal on July 19.

"[Lucic] gives us a dimension that we basically didn't have," Peters told the radio station. "You always hear, and you read articles in the summer, everyone's got a chip on their shoulder. Anyone who's gotten bought out or traded have a chip on their shoulder, and they've got something to prove, and that's true."

Lucic is coming off the least productive full NHL season of his 12-year career, with 20 points (six goals, 14 assists) in 79 games with the Oilers last season. It marked the third straight season his point totals have declined, following 50 points (23 goals, 27 assists) in 82 games with Edmonton in 2016-17 and 34 points (10 goals, 24 assists) in 82 games in 2017-18.

But Peters said he believes Lucic is poised for a revival in Calgary.

"He looks great," Peters said. "He's in phenomenal shape. Very driven, very realistic about where he's at and what he has to do. I like the fact he's wearing (No.) 17 instead of 27. I think he had some good success when he was (with the Boston Bruins) wearing 17. Looking forward to getting him in the lineup."

Lucic also received praise from Flames defenseman Travis Hamonic.

"He's won the Stanley Cup (with the Bruins in 2011), been to another Final (with Boston in 2013), so he knows what it takes," Hamonic said of Lucic last week. "I think we have a good mix of old and young, but when someone like that comes into your locker room as a teammate, you can lean on their experience. You can never have too much of that."

Forward Johnny Gaudreau, who led Calgary in goals (36), assists (63) and points (99) last season, said he is looking forward to seeing the physical play Lucic (6-foot-3, 231 pounds) can provide.

"You don't really realize how big a presence he is on the ice," Gaudreau said after playing in a Checking For Charity game at Flyers Skate Zone on Aug. 10. "When you play against a team like that and you have a player like that who can get into the corners, big body, get in front of the net, he really helps your team. I think that's what we've been looking for in our team. I think he can push us over the edge here."

The Flames hope to better their performance in the Stanley Cup Playoffs this season; they were 50-25-7 with 107 points last season and had the best record in the Western Conference but lost in the first round to the Colorado Avalanche in five games.

A second-round pick (No. 50) by Boston in the 2006 NHL Draft, Lucic has 501 points (198 goals, 303 assists) in 890 regular-season games with the Bruins, Los Angeles Kings and Oilers, and has 70 points (28 goals, 42 assists) in 114 playoff games.

Though Lucic averaged 13:14 of ice time during his final season with the Oilers, Peters said he sees him skating on the third line with center Derek Ryan, if not the first line with Gaudreau and center Sean Monahan.

"I've got to keep the big guy involved," Peters said. "He's got to be involved, so he needs some ice time."

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