It goes without saying that Paul Holmgren was a busy man over the weekend, but the NHL Draft wasn’t the only business that required front office attention. The Flyers’ general manager acknowledged that he also met with free-agent-to-be Vincent Lecavalier on Saturday.
The Tampa Bay Lightning used one of their two compliance buyouts on Lecavalier, which as Flyers fans are well aware makes him a free agent on July 5. The four-time All Star will be one of the most coveted players on what was shaping up to be a relatively thin class.
Just how serious are the Flyers’ overtures? It’s difficult to say. There is a perpetual sense in Philadelphia that a blockbuster acquisition is on the way, and Lecavalier would fit the bill. When pressed on where the organization stands with the long-time Tampa captain, Holmgren replied, “I have no idea.”
There are a couple of issues with pursuing Lecavalier. First and foremost, there is already a lot of competition for the 33-year-old’s services. Tim Panaccio reports no fewer than 10 clubs have shown interest, adding that he expects the bidding to be fierce. There’s really no question it will be.
That could set up like a road block for the Flyers, who even after amnestying Danny Briere and Ilya Bryzgalov are going to be tight against the salary cap. The competition will almost certainly allow for Lecavalier to leverage a deal Homer can’t easily afford, at least not without clearing more cap space first.
Second, there is some question as to whether Lecavalier is really what the Flyers need. Even with Briere out of the picture, the squad is fairly deep at center. Adding another centerman, one that is no less than a second-line player at that, figures to continue pushing Sean Couturier down the lineup, and/or forces Brayden Schenn to play out of position –which could be detrimental to both of their development.
As long as the Flyers are intent on bringing in players from outside the organization to improve the club, the focus should be on scoring wingers, an area the roster is somewhat lacking at the moment.
Lecavalier is a nice player, but would he be worth all of the rearranging that would surely follow? He hasn’t been healthy for a full season since 2009-10, which not coincidentally is also the last time he eclipsed 70 points. His most recent All-Star Game appearance was one year earlier.
It may not matter. The Flyers seem likely to get priced out of the Lecavalier market even if Holmgren can create the space in cap and on roster. That doesn’t mean it wouldn’t make for an intriguing addition, it’s just difficult to envision how such a move puts Philly over the top in the short-term, much less benefits the Orange & Black further down the road.
If somebody has an idea that satisfies all of the contractual needs under the salary cap without blocking the Flyers' young talent at center, we're all ears, because Lecavalier is the kind of player and leader any team would be lucky to have. That doesn't necessarily make him the right fit for Philly though.