The Flyers just fired the first shot in free agency, and the signing period doesn’t officially begin until Friday.
TSN’s Darren Dreger reported Tuesday evening that the Orange & Black have come to terms with four-time All Star Vincent Lecavalier on a five-year deal worth $22.5 million, a cap hit of $4.5 million per season. The agreement includes a full no-movement clause. The organization confirmed the story, although they can’t ink the contract before July 5.
Lecavalier, 33, was amnestied by the Tampa Bay Lightning on June 27. Within two days he was already meeting with the Flyers as teams numbering in double digits were contacting the center. It was unclear how serious talks were however – until now, general manager Paul Holmgren had managed to leave the media in the dark.
Lecavalier – 6-4, 208 – has spent the entirety of his 14-year NHL career with the Lightning. The long-time Tampa captain’s best season was in 2006-07, when he led the league in goals with 52.
That’s not the player the Flyers are getting though. The first-overall pick in the 1998 NHL Draft, Lecavalier hasn’t played a full season since 09-10 due to injuries, nor has he recorded a 70-point season in equally as long. He was last chosen for the All-Star Game one year earlier. Through 39 games in 2013, Vinny posted 10 goals and 22 assists while skating just under 18 minutes per night.
In 1,037 games, Lecavalier's 383 goals ranks ninth among all active skaters, 874 points overall. He's appeared in another 63 games in the postseason as well, logging 24 scores and 28 helpers.
There’s no arguing Lecavalier is still a tremendous player. and one who brings a strong presence to the dressing room. We asked on Monday how he might fit on the ice though with the Flyers being fairly deep at center. This could open the door for a Sean Couturier trade later, or for Brayden Schenn to move to winger.
The Flyers must make additional moves to fit Lecavalier under the cap. Per Tim Panaccio, the Flyers only have $4.1 million in space, and already have qualifying offers out to several of their restricted free agents, plus still need to find a second goaltender to compete against Steve Mason.
According to reports, the front office continues to hold talks with the Edmonton Oilers about a possible swap for Braydon Coburn. Coburn’s cap figure is $4.5 million. Andrej Meszaros, on the final year of his contract, is also expendable at $4 million if anybody will have him.
It would appear this is the blockbuster move Flyers observers have been waiting for, so you can exhale. It’s hard to argue with adding a talent like Lecavalier, even if center wasn’t the club’s biggest need, and might result in one or more role players departing.
The Flyers get better with the acquisition, but does Lecavalier put them that much closer to hoisting the Stanley Cup?