A day before the shutdown, the Bruins addressed one final piece of business.
The Bruins signed Milan Lucic to a three-year, $18 million extension Saturday. Lucic is in the final season of a three-year, $12.25 million deal; he would have been eligible to reach unrestricted free agency in 2014-15. The new contract will become effective in 2013-14 and run through 2015-16.
“It gives us, under the current system, two years of UFA, which is huge,” said Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli. “It gives Milan the ability to get back to the market in four years, but still gives him an element of security, playing with the team and in the city he loves.”
Lucic, 24, is one of the NHL’s most exclusive commodities. Last season, as the team’s No. 1 left wing, he had 26 goals and 35 assists while averaging 17:01 of ice time. In 2010-11, he recorded 30 goals and 32 assists; his 56 goals over the last two seasons lead the team.
The element that makes Lucic unique is how the thunder in his game complements his goal-scoring mitts. His victims include Mike Van Ryn and the TD Garden pane of glass through which Lucic deposited the ex-Toronto defenseman on Oct. 23, 2008.
On Nov. 12, 2011, Lucic steamrolled Buffalo goalie Ryan Miller when he left his crease to play the puck. There was no immediate retribution. In a rematch 11 days later, Paul Gaustad challenged Lucic to a fight. Lucic dispatched Gaustad in a one-sided throwdown.
Lucic is now slated to become the Bruins’ second-highest-paid player in 2013-14. Only Zdeno Chara ($6,916,667) will earn more.
“I know what the responsibility is now,” Lucic said. “After spending five years in the league, I know how hard you have to play day in and day out in the NHL. I’m excited.”
Saturday’s transaction capped an eight-day span in which the Bruins committed $70.5 million in future salary to three players. On Sept. 7, Brad Marchand signed a four-year, $18 million deal. On Tuesday, Tyler Seguin agreed to a six-year, $34.5 million contract.
In explaining the signings, Chiarelli noted his preference to deal with a known system over the uncertainty of the next CBA. Based on the NHL’s latest proposal, existing contracts would not be rolled back — neither in term nor salary. Players would see their revenue share decrease via escrow.
“It’s a sizable chunk of money; these numbers are big,” Chiarelli said. “We’re trying to keep our players, especially our forwards, in clusters.
“There’s a lot of planning and an element of caution. We’re talking about future players here and core players.”