According to various reports, the Philadelphia Flyers are working hard to find a trade partner for Vincent Lecavalier. In other words, general manager Ron Hextall is spending an inordinate amount of time trying to undo the mistakes of his predecessor. Lecavalier was one of the biggest.
Which is why Hextall should probably just stop pussyfooting around and take whatever he can get in return. Frankly, it doesn’t matter too much what comes back in the exchange. It’s that contract the Flyers want to be rid of.
Many mild-mannered Philly fans were not very receptive to the Lecavalier addition from the beginning. It was fairly obvious even then that at 33 years old, the four-time All Star’s best days were behind him—by about five years actually. Plus, he had battled injuries the previous three seasons, even further sign he was breaking down.
Yet for some reason, the Flyers anteed up with a five-year contract worth $22.5 million. Never mind Lecavalier looked like a poor fit on top of everything else. The organization wanted their man and they got him.
Lecavalier centered a legit line at first, but that didn’t work. Then the Flyers had the bright idea to try him at wing—where he basically never played in 14 seasons in the NHL—and that didn’t work. They tried busting him down to the fourth line, and that wasn’t very helpful, either.
Sure, Lecavalier was dealing with injuries for much of the season, but again, that is to be expected.
In 69 games last season, Lecavalier racked up 20 goals and 17 assists in 69 games for his lowest point total over a full season since 2001-02. He added one goal and one assist in seven playoff games, which by that point his ice time had been reduced to the point where he was averaging little more than 10 minutes a night.
Despite his unwieldy contract and declining health and production, Lecavalier could probably help another team. Apparently, the Nashville Predators have expressed serious interest, with one report stating a trade was “nearly” accomplished. The Preds may still be in the mix, and now, the Ottawa Senators are rumored to be in play.
Amazing as it might seem, there are suitors. So what’s the holdup?
For one, there is going to be an expectation that the Flyers eat some of Lecavalier’s salary in a trade. According to CSNPhilly.com’s Tim Panaccio’s sources, the Predators were willing to take on the full cap hit for two of the remaining four years on the contract, but not the entire thing. Fine. Done.
Except another source tells Panotch that Hextall is balking at keeping too much of Lecavalier’s salary on the books. The latest report indicates the Flyers want to retain no more than $1 million per year.
To be fair, it sounds like general managers around the league realize they have the Flyers over a barrel, which complicates matters. Based on Panotch’s report, I’d describe the Senators’ interest as luke-warm at best, seeing as they reportedly expect the orange and black to retain a “hefty portion” of the money, plus want another player or draft pick in the deal.
It’s unclear who Philly would be getting back, but on its face, that sounds like a team is trying to take advantage of the Flyers.
Then again, I’m not entirely convinced that would be the worst-case scenario. Whether it’s posturing or the simple reality of the situation, Hextall has come right out and said Lecavalier could still be wearing orange and black come September.
That would be nothing short of a disaster.
There’s still time for a deal to be reached, as it doesn’t sound like the market hasn't gone completely soft yet. If I were in charge, though, I wouldn’t get too cute with this one. Lecavalier is a drain on the Flyers right now, both financially and on the ice, and bringing him back for another season accomplishes nothing.
In fact, this may be Philadelphia’s best chance to get rid of that contract. Yes, Hextall will have to sell low on this one, but it’s not as if Lecavalier’s stock will soar even if he enjoys something of a bounce-back year. Trading Lecavalier may not be pretty, but it is most definitely a necessary evil.