Milan Lucic might not put up the points the way he did in his younger days, but Matthew Tkachuk still believes he’s an important part of the Calgary Flames.
“I just think it’s so important to have someone like that on our team,” Tkachuk said on After Hours Saturday. “I think it was a great thing that we did in the summer to acquire him. He’s someone that’s very, very important to our team right now.”
The Flames acquired Lucic in a trade with provincial rivals Edmonton over the summer. While he has only scored 16 goals in the past two seasons, the Flames didn’t trade for Lucic to add offence. Instead, they wanted intimidation.
“This is not going to be fun team to play against,” general manager Brad Treliving said after making the deal for James Neal in July.
This has already been apparent early in the Flames’ season. In the opener against the Colorado Avalanche, Lucic came to the rescue of teammate Austin Czarnik by fighting defenceman Nikita Zadorov.
That intimidation role was one Tkachuk and Sam Bennett filled last season, with the two combining for 155 penalty minutes. But by adding Lucic to the mix — and his more than 1,000 career penalty minutes — the Flames youngsters can focus more on scoring while the 31-year-old veteran does the heavy lifting.
“I love it because it seems to keep the other team on their toes,” Tkachuk said. “In the games we’ve played so far, other teams — where as last year or the past couple years they were maybe more chippy or way more in your face or way more physical — they’re nervous, they’re scared of this guy and I was too playing against him for three years.”