With just over 12 hours until the NHL lockout is expected to begin, the Boston Bruins on Saturday locked up their third young forward in a week, agreeing to a three-year, $18 million extension with Milan Lucic that runs through 2015-16. The deal kicks in after this season, which was the last on the 24-year-old's current deal.
The contract averages $6 million annually starting in 2013, which will make him the highest-paid forward on the roster in terms of average annual value.
"I've spent five great years here in Boston, and I've really embraced this city and the Boston Bruins and they've embraced me," Lucic said. "I'm really excited for this, and I'm happy to be remaining a Bruin. There's no other team in the NHL I'd rather play for. Like I said, I'm real excited about this opportunity and happy this deal got done."
Earlier this week, the Bruins signed the 20-year-old Tyler Seguin to a six-year extension that will average $5.75 million per season. Late last week, they agreed with 24-year-old Brad Marchand on a four-year deal that averages $4.5 million per season.
General manager Peter Chiarelli seems to have his core in order with the lockout looming. It is unclear what the new collective bargaining agreement will look like once the labor dispute is resolved.
"He marks the end of three signings that we've done over a couple of weeks and very happy to have completed them, with Milan being the last one for now," Chiarelli said. "I think it shows commitment from Milan, the other players that we've talked about previously, and commitment from our owner, Mr. Jeremy Jacobs, and Charlie Jacobs. So a good day for us amidst other things, but happy to have Milan in the mix for four more years -- one more under the current contract and three under the new contract."
The 6-foot-4, 220-pound Lucic had 26 goals and a career-high 62 assists last season, his fifth with the Bruins. His point total (61) was one point off his career-high total in the Bruins' championship season of 2010-11.
He was one of six players to have at least 20 goals and 100 penalty minutes on the season.
"You're all familiar with Milan and the way he plays," Chiarelli said. "A real, obviously solid contributor and big -- I call him a kind of signature player -- loves to play, loves to be physical, and a big part of this team."