Milan Lucic wants to talk to other teams. The Calgary Flames have no problem with that.
In no way is it surprising, but the move is a clear indication the Flames will be parting ways with the veteran winger come July 1.
Lucic is at the end of a hefty contract he signed with the Edmonton Oilers as a free agent six years ago. He told the media at the end of the season that it was “a relief” to be done with the expectations that come with a higher salary — which took a toll on him for much of the last few years.
“It’s like a weight lifted off my shoulders moving forward that I don’t have to think about it anymore,” Lucic said after the Calgary Flames season came to a disappointing end.
“You want to live up to the expectations of what you’re getting paid and all that type of stuff. For myself, I’m a proud person, and by no means do I feel like I didn’t earn it. I definitely did earn it. But to not be able to live up to it was definitely something that weighed on me day to day. From a personal standpoint, it was hard to deal with at times.”
Lucic praised the City of Calgary for making hockey fun for him again after a 2019 trade saw him head south down the QE2 Highway with James Neal heading to the Edmonton Oilers from the Flames.
But as an active member of social apps, Lucic has also been all too aware of the negativity surrounding his name with so many Flames fans craving youth over size and experience on the fourth line.
Lucic scored a career-low 19 points (including seven goals) in 77 games for the Flames last season.
Retirement isn’t something he has considered, with his time as a member of the Flames reminding him he still has contributions to make. But this time, money won’t be much of a determining factor in where he lands as a UFA. And his world championship gold might have helped his cause to continue.
There’s been talk from Rick Dhaliwal of CHEK TV that Lucic’s hometown Vancouver Canucks have been considering the addition. And with the Calgary Flames reportedly allowing Lucic to explore his options ahead of July 1, there’s no worry about tampering.
“I definitely still want to continue playing, that’s where my head is at. I’m still healthy and still feel good and still enjoy the game,” Lucic said back in April. “My plan is to continue playing.
“There are so many scenarios that have run through my head. Where do I feel it’s going to be the most enjoyable for me to go to the rink every day?”
Vancouver. Perhaps Boston?
One thing’s almost certain — it won’t be Calgary.