Flyers to Sign Vincent Lecavalier for Five Years, $22.5 Million

Flyers to Sign Vincent Lecavalier for Five Years, $22.5 Million

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?

Elton Brand on national anthem protests: Sixers working with NBA, having 'discussions internally'

Elton Brand on national anthem protests: Sixers working with NBA, having 'discussions internally'

CAMDEN, N.J. — Pockets of NBA players have increasingly started to speak up about what they believe to be racial and social injustices taking place in the United States.

With San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick's decision to kneel during the national anthem sparking protests from other players around the NFL and various sports, now the NBA as a whole is preparing for potential protests prior to games.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver and National Basketball Players Association union executive director Michele Roberts came together last week to formulate a joint letter to players to express how the two sides plan to take "meaningful action."

Whatever that action is, Sixers veteran Elton Brand is all for it and the overall discussion of issues going on around the country.

"There are e-mails and direct texts from the NBPA. We’re working with the NBA. They’re going to talk to us soon,” Brand said. “My thing is if you want to stand up for something, that’s a good thing. Especially in America, the tensions and the injustices that are going on right now. 

“Even in our locker room we’re discussing who feels like this, who feels like what and ways that we can display how we feel about things. I’m all for it. I stand behind it and stand with other athletes and people that want to stand for a cause. Whatever their cause is, they want to stand for a cause. Our cause may be different.”

The NBA is significantly more diverse than the NFL, and Brand even admitted it’s been an eye-opening experience having talks about issues affecting African Americans inside a locker room with players from around the globe.

“We have a lot of international players,” he said. “I’m looking around the room and there are seven people that aren’t from this country. So you talk about the flag, talk about the constitution and to them it’s like, ‘I represent America because I’m working here, but I’m pro-Spain and I have problems there, too.’ We’re all sorting it out. We’ve had discussions internally also. I’m looking forward to what the NBPA and the NBA have to offer."

What the league and players association come up with will likely serve as something other than protesting during the actual anthem. Unlike the NFL, the NBA has a rule in place that explicitly states players, coaches and trainers must stand on the foul line or sidelines in a dignified posture during the playing of national anthems.

If Sixers players do ultimately decide on some sort of protest before games, they will have the support of the organization to express their rights.

"We haven't been together collectively long enough to have a real robust discussion about it," Sixers president Bryan Colangelo said. "I think we just addressed it briefly this morning with the players in an opportunity to say the following. Basically, we as an organization are going to be supportive of the views of our players. As the league and the players association formulate perhaps an approach, they've already circulated some information to teams. Things are probably still at the discussion phase. I hope to think that's where things are with our players, that they're still at the discussion phase. 

"Once again, I'm assuming that there will be a desire to express an opinion or viewpoint. I've always been supportive of people in society having freedom to express a viewpoint. Again, going back to the league and the players association, in a positive way I think they've always been out in front of some of these social issues and if they can affect social change in a positive way they probably will. You can just anticipate that there's still some unknowns to this, but you can estimate that we will be supportive as an organization as to how our players want to express their views."

Joel Embiid expects to play in Sixers' preseason opener

Joel Embiid expects to play in Sixers' preseason opener

CAMDEN, N.J. — The long wait could be over next week.

Joel Embiid expects to play in the Sixers' first preseason game Oct. 4 at UMass-Amherst against the Celtics, he said Monday at media day.

“The first thing for me is just get back on the court,” Embiid said of his expectations this season. “It looks like in a couple days I’m going to have the chance to do that.”

Embiid has missed the past two seasons since being drafted third overall because of foot injuries. Even though he is taking his rookie year one step at a time, he has a positive long-term outlook given how healthy he feels. 

“I’m confident that I’m going to have a long, successful career,” he said. “From what it looks like right now, I’m going to have a 20-year career.”

Embiid has grown as a player and a person during his recovery. He noted had he been competing in an 82-game season, he would not have had as much time to dedicate on his development. As a result of the specialized workouts and the hours he has spent in an individual practice format, he has improved his shooting and gained strength and speed. 

“What I was two years ago, I’m not even close to what I am right now,” he said. “My game has gotten so much better ... I’m not the same guy. I’m different.”

Embiid has been following a well-mapped out rehab plan during which he has had to adhere to restrictions, and will continue to do so this season. He admits the restrictions have been frustrating, but he now understands they are being implemented for his best interest long term. The lengthy recovery has forced him to change his outlook on maintaining his health. 

“The main thing I learned about myself is, I could be patient,” Embiid said. “When I was first doing my rehab, going through that, the only thing I thought about was getting back on the court. I would try to get back on the court and play more than I was supposed to. After the doctor [said] you had to heal well and I needed the second surgery, that’s when I told myself be patient and do whatever I can and make sure I listen to what people have to say.”

Head coach Brett Brown wants Embiid to become the “crown jewel” of the defense. Embiid, who stands at a towering 7-foot-2, 275 pounds, is ready to embrace those expectations. He has studied tape of Tim Duncan, Hakeem Olajuwon and Patrick Ewing, among others. Embiid likes the game of Marc Gasol and appreciates how DeAndre Jordan communicates as a big man. 

“I love playing defense,” he said. “I hate when the other team scores.”

Embiid's debut will be the culmination of years of work. Now that the season is approaching, he is eager to count down the days. 

“I’m really excited,” Embiid said. “I’ve gone through a lot and it’s been two years. The fact that I’m healthy now and ready to get back on the court, I just can’t wait.”