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Milan Lucic, general manager? Big winger has big executive aspirations

Vancouver Sun logo Vancouver Sun 5 days ago Steve Ewen
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Milan Lucic could be Connor McDavid’s left winger sometime this season. He could also be his boss years down the road, too.

Lucic, who signed with the Edmonton Oilers as a free agent last summer in part for the opportunity to play alongside young star McDavid, admits that he has aspirations of becoming a general manager one day after his playing career is complete.

Don’t get too excited. We’re talking well down the road. We’re talking probably into the tail end of the careers of guys like McDavid, now 20. Lucic signed a seven-year, $42 million contract with the Oilers an off-season ago, and he says that he’ll focus on spending extra time with daughters Valentina, now 4, and Nikolina, 2, initially when ever he retires.

Still, he’s fascinated by the player-personnel game. For instance, he said he has ideas what Las Vegas Knights general manager George McPhee might try to do leading up to and including the Wednesday expansion draft.

He wasn’t willing to get into his exact predictions other than to say this: “I’m not going to lie — I think a bunch of deals are done so that George knows what he’s doing (on Wednesday).”

It’s been Lucic’s modus operandi for some time. He paid attention to such things in junior, keeping an eye on WHL transactions when he was a member of the Vancouver Giants. He’s close with former Giants general manager Scott Bonner, and would regularly check in with him about the goings-on of the club upon moving to the NHL for the 2007-08 campaign.

“I definitely love everything that goes into putting a team together,” said Lucic, 29, who was part of the Giants’ 2007 Memorial Cup reunion this weekend, which featured a golf tournament on Friday at Tsawwassen Springs.

“It’s something that you think about. I would definitely love to get back into the management side of things one day.

“I’ve been in the league for 10 years now and I’ve seen how things progress and how things happen. You see talent. You see moves. Sometimes you scratch your head.”

An example of that? He wondered how Phil Kessel’s style was going to mesh with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin after the Toronto Maple Leafs and Pittsburgh Penguins pulled off their July 1, 2015 swap that moved Kessel to Pennsylvania.

The Penguins didn’t return calls at press time, but it’s fair to surmise that they’re content with how things have run their course since the deal.

“I thought, ‘This isn’t going to work at all,’” said Lucic. “Who is Phil going to play with? He’s a puck-possession guy. Crosby and Malkin are puck-possession guys. Sure enough, they go on to win back-to-back Stanley Cups.

“Those are the things, the game within the game, that interest me. I’ve always been a student of the game. I think that’s a good thing.”

Lucic admits that joining the coaching ranks one day isn’t nearly as appealing to him, though.

“I’m not a video watcher,” he said. “I’ve had coaches even tell me that they want me to watch more video than I do. And the hours that coaches put in are more than the players. I can’t see myself doing that (getting into coaching).”

These next couple of seasons with the Oilers will be a good case study for a potential player-personnel executive, considering salary cap issues arising with so much of their young talent on entry-level contracts. Lucic is confident that Edmonton general manager Peter Chiarelli and Co. will be able to keep the team trending forward.

“I think what we’ve done is make Edmonton more of an attractive landing spot for players to come to, especially with the building and the team and Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl,” said Lucic.

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