Is it possible for the Flyers to trade Lecavalier?

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Is it possible for the Flyers to trade Lecavalier?

Coach Craig Berube struggled to find a suitable place for center Vinny Lecavalier. General Manager Ron Hextall could be facing a similar challenge.

TSN hockey analyst Darren Dreger reported the Flyers are now interested in dealing the 34-year-old center after just one year in Philadelphia, and with the organization fresh out of compliance buyouts (see: Ilya Bryzgalov and Danny Briere), the Flyers would have to find a suitable partner for an offseason swap.

To facilitate a trade, first and foremost, the Flyers would have to eat a portion of Lecavalier’s salary. He’s due $16.5 million over the next four years, including $6 million for 2014-15, and under current CBA guidelines, the Flyers could retain as much as 50 percent. Assuming they’re willing to do that, the acquiring team would pay Lecavalier $8.25 over four years, which would give general managers something to seriously consider.

The $4.5 cap hit is completely transferrable, so the benefit for the Flyers is two-fold: creating some needed cap space, and opening up a spot on the active roster -- addition by subtraction. The return for the Flyers would have to be minimal. It’s a far reach to think the Flyers would receive a younger player in return, so the asking price should be nothing more than a draft pick.

Secondly, Lecavalier would have to be completely willing to waive his no-movement clause with no strings attached. If Lecavalier comes up with a short list of teams, then it could easily kill any potential deal. But the most difficult component of a trade will be finding a team and GM that still believe Lecavalier has some productive years left while remaining healthy into his mid-to late-30s. Where should Hextall start his search? Here’s a few potential destinations:

Nashville: This may seem like the obvious connection now that Peter Laviolette is behind the Predators' bench. It was Lavy’s up-tempo system that was a real selling point for Lecavalier here in Philadelphia. The Predators are desperate for a scoring center and GM David Poile likes a bargain if the Flyers agree to pick up half of Lecavalier's contract.

Ottawa: The Senators could be in the market for a first- and/or second-line center, especially if they elect to deal captain Jason Spezza, who has reportedly asked management for a trade. Adding to the Senators' concerns, they currently have just four forwards signed after next season.

Florida: After spending his first 14 seasons in Tampa, Lecavalier could see returning to Florida as an enticing option. The Panthers, too, are desperate for centermen. Like Ottawa, Florida has a lot of holes on its roster after 2014-15. Lecavalier’s wicked one-timer from the right circle would give a boost to the league’s worst power play that connected on just 10 percent last season.

Dallas: Last year, the Stars were one of the teams reportedly in hot pursuit of Lecavalier. Outside of the deadly combination of Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn, the Stars would like to find some secondary scoring. Dallas finished 23rd on the power play last season, and they too could benefit from Lecavalier’s presence.

Calgary: Another team in dire need of talented players is the Flames, and Brian Burke has shown a preference for big, skilled centers. Cap space isn’t an issue with over $30 million of room, and for much of last season the Flames were a competitive team that couldn’t get over the hump. Right now, Matt Stajan is Calgary’s highest-paid center at just over $3 million/season.

Flyers-Oilers 5 things: Winning streak meets Connor McDavid

Flyers-Oilers 5 things: Winning streak meets Connor McDavid

Flyers (15-10-3) vs. Oilers (14-10-4)
7 p.m. on CSN and CSNPhilly.com, Pregame Live at 6:30

The hottest team in the NHL will meet the hottest young star on Thursday night when the Flyers host the Edmonton Oilers at the Wells Fargo Center.

Here are five things you need to know for the matchup:

1. McDavid and Co.
The Flyers are going for their seventh consecutive victory, which would tie their longest winning streak since Dec. 2-15, 2011, when they also won seven in a row.

In order to do so, they’ll have to slow down transcendent talent Connor McDavid and the prolific but streaky Oilers.

McDavid, a generational player, has thus far lived up to all the hype surrounding him as the No. 1 overall pick in the 2015 draft. In just his second NHL season — and first with a healthy start after an injured-shortened rookie year (45 games) — the 19-year-old leads all of hockey in points with 36, while no other player has yet to eclipse 30.

His 25 assists also rank atop the NHL, while his 11 goals are among the top 22 and his plus-8 rating is tied for ninth best between all centers.

“He’s one of the best players in the world,” Pierre-Edouard Bellemare said Wednesday. “It’s tough not to be excited when playing against a guy who plays like this. He competes every second he is on the ice.”

And he has help.

Linemates Leon Draisaitl (11 goals, 11 assists) and Milan Lucic (eight goals, 12 assists) can do damage, as can Jordan Eberle (eight goals, 13 assists).

2. Defense wins games
The Flyers are playing better and cleaner in front of their goaltender — who has been great (see below) — and the results are showing.

The orange and black have gone five straight games of allowing two or fewer goals.

Why were they so up and down before this run? Well, they had surrendered two or fewer goals in just five of their previous 23 games.

“That’s unbelievable for us,” Wayne Simmonds said after Tuesday’s 3-2 win over the Panthers. “At the beginning of the year, to say we’d have five straight without giving up more than two would be a stretch.
 
“We’ve locked it down defensively and Mase has played unbelievable. We’ve been pretty good as five-man units.”

3. Mase the man
A confident Steve Mason is a dangerous Steve Mason.

Right now, Mason has the net and is gaining steam by the game.

Over his past five outings, the 28-year-old is 5-0-0 with a 1.74 goals-against average and .947 save percentage.

Just as impressive, since Nov. 12, Mason is 8-3-1 with a 2.11 goals-against average and .930 save percentage.

“I've said it numerous times, I want to be playing lots of hockey,” Mason said Tuesday. “This is a position that I'm used to being in and where I'm most comfortable. So just have to keep continuing to put my work in and whenever [head coach Dave Hakstol] calls my name, be ready."

4. Keep an eye on ...
Flyers: You always have to watch Simmonds, but especially now with the winger coming off back-to-back two-goal games. Simmonds leads the NHL with eight power-play goals and is second in man-advantage points (13) to only teammate Claude Giroux (14).

Oilers: With all the attention zeroed in on McDavid, we’ll go with the 21-year-old Draisaitl, who has seven goals in his last nine games and 14 points in his past 12. The No. 3 overall pick in 2014 is an intelligent playmaker capable of hurting you.

5. This and that
• Mason is 8-4-0 with just a 3.49 goals-against average and .872 save percentage in 13 career games against Edmonton.

• Oilers goalie Jonas Gustavsson will make his fourth start of the season. He’s 1-1-1 on the year with 84 saves on 91 shots faced, but is 0-4-1 lifetime against the Flyers with a 3.57 goals-against average and .865 save percentage.

• The Flyers are fourth in the NHL in goals per game (3.11), while Edmonton is seventh (2.93).

• The Oilers have lost 10 of their last 15 games (5-7-3).

Flyers skate update: Wayne Simmonds, power play key to beating Oilers

Flyers skate update: Wayne Simmonds, power play key to beating Oilers

Todd McLellan saw a lot of Flyers defenseman Ivan Provorov as a junior player in the Western Hockey League whenever the Brandon Wheat Kings would turn up in Edmonton.

“I watched him play in junior and had a chance to see that Brandon team play in Edmonton twice last year,” said the Edmonton Oilers coach.

“Obviously, a smooth, confident [player] with great vision. He has patience with the puck. Those are his offensive assets. 

“But he also positions himself well, defensively. He accepts that responsibility. For a young d-man, he is ahead of a lot of others because he can play on both sides of the puck.”

Provorov rattled Jaromir Jagr Tuesday when Florida was here (see story). Tonight he gets his first NHL taste of Connor McDavid.

McLellan said the Oilers' biggest challenge against the Flyers will be stopping the NHL’s second-ranked power play. Edmonton has the 11th best penalty kill.

His concern is Wayne Simmonds (8 power play goals) and Claude Giroux (14 power play points). 

“That power play is deadly and it really hasn’t changed — it’s just clicking,” McLellan said. “It has a couple trigger points. Obviously, Simmonds has the most goals in the league  and Giroux has the most points. But there’s other pieces to that power play, which are exceptional. 

“Our penalty kill has been taking it on the chin and I had to ask our guys today, 'Is it the penalty kill or the penalties?' In my opinion, it’s as much the penalties as the penalty kill. We have to stay out of the box.  

“This is a confident Flyers team. They feel very good in the offensive zone and make things happen. Their goaltender [Steve Mason] has been making saves for them that keeps them confident going the other way. It’s a team on the rise.”

The Streak
The Flyers are looking to make it seven straight wins tonight against the Oilers. The last time they won seven in arrow was Dec. 2-15 in 2011. They did not have a morning skate.

On Mason
Tuesday’s win against Florida was Steve Mason’s 88th as a Flyer, moving him past Pelle Lindbergh into sixth in franchise history. Mason needs six wins to move into third place in franchise history. 

Debut
Defenseman Dillon Simpson will make his Oilers debut tonight in Philadelphia. He is the son of former Oiler Craig Simpson. 

The oddity? Last year, Keegan Lowe made his Oilers' debut here in Philadelphia. He is the son of Kevin Lowe, longtime coach and front office executive for the Oilers. 

Colors
The Oilers wear three colors during their morning skate. Their defensemen dress in orange; their third and fourth lines dress in white and their top six skaters dress in blue. Now that’s an NHL hierarchy.