The Boston Bruins have signed forward Milan Lucic to a contract extension that will help keep the team's young core together for the foreseeable future.
Per a release from the team:
Boston Bruins General Manager Peter Chiarelli announced today, September 15, that the club has signed forward Milan Lucic to a three-year contract extension through the 2015-16 season. Lucic’s contract is worth an average of $6 million annually over the three years of his deal.
During the 2011-12 season, the forward skated in 81 games, registering an NHL career-high in assists with 35, and notching 26 goals for 61 total points, just one shy of his highest NHL career points total. He hit the 20-goal mark for the second straight season and was the first of six NHL players to reach both 20 goals and 100 penalty minutes on the season.
Depending on the salary structure of the deal, Lucic could become the Bruins' highest paid forward when his extension starts in the 2013-14 season.
Many NHL players have signed extensions over the last few days under the current collective bargaining agreement, which ends Saturday night at 11:59 p.m. ET. At that time, it's expected that the NHL will enter another lockout.
As Fluto Shinzawa of the Boston Globe points out, it's been an expensive week for the Bruins.
In 8 days, Bruins have committed $70.5M in future salary for Lucic, Seguin, Marchand.— Fluto Shinzawa (@GlobeFluto) September 15, 2012
Lucic is an important part of the Bruins team for a number of reasons. His offensive production is fantastic, he's arguably the best power forward in the NHL and he impacts the game physically in a way that few other players can.
Very few power forwards in the NHL can score the number of goals he does and still be an intimidating force who also drops the gloves with the league's heavyweights. Lucic should be able to score 25-plus goals and reach 60-plus points for many years to come.
There was no way that the Bruins were going to let Lucic go to free agency. He is a rare kind of player in today's game, and if he ever hits unrestricted free agency, it would be shocking if there weren't 25 or more teams trying to sign him.
Lucic is not only an important part of the Bruins' success on the ice, he's crucial to the team's success off of it. He's arguably the team's most popular player, and many of the fans wearing jerseys at TD Garden have No. 17 on the back.
With Lucic's new deal, the only Bruins forwards without two years remaining on their current contracts are Nathan Horton (UFA next summer) and Jordan Caron (RFA next summer), according to Capgeek.
Nicholas Goss is a Boston Bruins columnist at Bleacher Report. He was also B/R's on-site reporter for the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals in Boston and has covered the Bruins since the 2010-11 season. Follow him on Twitter.