Should Milan Lucic Make Team Canada?

 

4577146945_899c756ea1_o

Image courtesy of Flickr. Photograph taken by Deb

In February 2014, the National Hockey League will be sending its best players to the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Defending champion Canada, have some difficult lineup decisions to make. The NHL is stacked with an overwhelming abundance of great Canadian hockey players, and Milan Lucic is one who has earned the right to fight for a spot in the lineup.

Lucic Dominated The 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs

After a subpar season by his standards, Milan Lucic excelled in the 2013 Stanley Cup playoffs. The big brutish bruiser took over postseason games with fierce play and relentless pursuit of the puck. He tallied 19 points in 22 contests, leading his team all the way to Game 6 of the Stanley Cup finals.

It wasn’t just points on the board that made Lucic so impressive throughout the Bruins run to the Finals – he was a force to be reckoned with. His strength and willingness to use size and ferosity as a competitive advantage allowed Lucic to win battles, abuse opponents, and score important goals at key times. His best qualities are rare and valuable. If Team Canada hope to add an element of pure rugged aggression and power, Milan Lucic is the best guy for the job. Simply put, no one else in the NHL plays a power game like the Bruins number 17.

Can Milan Lucic Dominate On Olympic Size Ice?

Although Lucic provides a unique and attractive skill set, there may be a question about his ability to play his style on the bigger Olympic ice surface. Typically, international hockey is not played the way NHL hockey is played. On the big ice, puck possession and speed are more important than straight-line power hockey, thus creating the only reason Milan Lucic may not make Team Canada, the Sochi edition. However, there is always room for a Lucic on any hockey team; despite his lack of elite mobility, he can still be a highly effective piece on a versatile team of specialists. After all, Lucic isn’t a slow skater, he’s just not a rocket like other Canadian Olympic hopefuls.

There will be desperate moments for Canada in the 2014 Winter Olympics. Against the USA, Sweden, or Finland, goals may be hard to score. The inclusion of Lucic to the roster allows Canadian head coach a very effective net-front option; Lucic is hard to move, he’s crafty around the crease, and he’s proven an ability to score in high pressure situations.

I don’t envy general manager Steve Yzerman and his team of decision makers. There are at least forty players worthy of a spot on the roster Canada will bring to Sochi. Narrowing down the list is going to be difficult. It is reasonable to believe Lucic finds his way into the top 25 when all is said and done, but it’s by no means a guarantee. The big Bruin embodies the traditional Canadian player. His presence on Team Canada ensures the team in red possess a secret weapon competitors will struggle to shut down. That makes Lucic a strong candidate to dawn the Maple Leaf next February in Russia.