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.

Best of NHL: Surging Capitals rock Blues in St. Louis

Best of NHL: Surging Capitals rock Blues in St. Louis

ST. LOUIS -- Andre Burakovsky, T.J. Oshie and Evgeny Kuznetsov each had a goal and an assist to lead the Washington Capitals to a 7-3 victory over the St. Louis Blues on Thursday night.

Jay beagle, Brett Connolly, Marcus Johansson and Justin Williams also scored, and Alex Ovechkin and Daniel Winnik each had two assists to help Washington earn at least a point in its 12th straight game (10-0-2) for an NHL-best 66 points.

Braden Holtby bounced back from his roughest outing of the season with 22 saves. Holtby was pulled after giving up a season-high five goals on 26 shots in an 8-7 overtime loss at Pittsburgh on Monday. He improved to 22-8-4 and 5-0 lifetime against St. Louis (see full recap).

Grabner scores 2 goals, Rangers top Leafs
TORONTO -- Michael Grabner scored two goals against his former team, helping the New York Rangers snap a three-game losing streak with a 5-2 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday night.

Pavel Buchnevich, Brady Skjei and J.T. Miller added goals for New York, and Henrik Lundqvist made 23 saves following a series of rough outings.

Tyler Bozak and Zach Hyman scored for Toronto, which had a three-game winning streak stopped. The Maple Leafs had earned 21 of a possible 26 points in their previous 13 games (10-2-1). Frederik Andersen gave up four goals on 40 shots (see full recap).

Tavares leads Islanders to shutout of Stars
NEW YORK -- Getting a new coach this week didn't change things much for the Islanders -- and oddly enough, that's a good thing for New York.

John Tavares narrowly missed out on his second hat trick in a week, Thomas Greiss got his second straight shutout and the Islanders beat the Dallas Stars 3-0 on Thursday night in their first game since firing longtime coach Jack Capuano.

New York canned Capuano in the middle of his seventh season Tuesday, replacing him on an interim basis with Doug Weight (see full recap).

Niederreiter, Wild dodge letdown, edge Coyotes
ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Nino Niederreiter had two power-play goals and an assist, including the go-ahead score for the Minnesota Wild with 7:06 remaining in a 4-3 victory over Arizona on Thursday night after the Coyotes came back from a two-goal deficit.

With Shane Doan in the penalty box for hooking, Niederreiter knocked in a nifty redirect of Mikael Granlund's slap shot for the winner. Devan Dubnyk stopped 20 shots for the Wild, who are 18-2-2 in their last 22 games.

Louis Domingue made 21 saves for the Coyotes, who lost their fourth in a row and fell to 2-12-1 in their last 15 games starting with a 4-1 loss to Minnesota in Arizona on Dec. 17 (see full recap).

End to End: What adjustment would you make on Flyers' defense?

End to End: What adjustment would you make on Flyers' defense?

Throughout the season, we'll ask questions about the Flyers to our resident hockey analysts and see what they have to say.

With the Flyers on their bye week, let’s discuss a few topics.

Going End to End this week are CSNPhilly.com producers/reporters Tom Dougherty, Jordan Hall and Greg Paone.

Today’s question: What adjustment would you make on the Flyers' defense?

Dougherty
There is not much in Dave Hakstol’s arsenal to significantly improve the team defense with a lineup change. Sure, scratching Andrew MacDonald could be a positive step, but that does not solve the problem here. We can point fingers at the defensive group because the Flyers have allowed the league’s second-most goals at 144. They’re part of the problem.

What is plaguing the Flyers is not just the play of their six defensemen on any given night; it’s their overall team defense. Some forwards are quitting on the backcheck, and not providing enough support in their own zone, missing their own assignments.

The Flyers, I believe, are struggling with the lack of practice time. And while it is true that every team is dealing with the same compact schedule as the Flyers, Hakstol has to maximize the little practice time he gets going forward and preach team defense. Gaps have been a major issue with the current group of blueliners, and that is an area assistant coach Gord Murphy has to fix. Hakstol has singled out the team’s rush defense as an issue, and that’s another area the team has to work on, too.

A lot of the same issues that were appearing in the beginning of the season when the Flyers were struggling are reappearing in their game now. They were able to make adjustments earlier in the season to hone their game defensively. More film study and more coaching are just a couple of the adjustments I’d make with the current options.

Hall
Sometimes it takes a fresh face, some new blood to spark change.

If anything, it sends a bit of a message.

The Flyers have options at AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley and general manager Ron Hextall didn’t rule anything out last Sunday.

But, of course, given the Flyers’ salary cap conundrum, it’s not as simple as just calling up a player.

So, the easiest thing that can be done is change within the current personnel. That means scratching MacDonald from time to time, just how Hakstol has done so with Shayne Gostisbehere, Brandon Manning, Michael Del Zotto, Radko Gudas and many Flyers forwards.

MacDonald hasn’t been as bad as some may think. Oftentimes, his mistakes are magnified more than others. But too frequently do we see him out of position or misreading a play on a goal against. And that’s been true for all Flyers defensemen, yet MacDonald seems to be one of the only spared of the consequences.

Benching MacDonald isn’t a drastic fix and it may not do much at all, but it’s something we haven’t seen since Nov. 19.

Paone
This a really tough question because, to be quite frank, there is no easy solution here to fixing a Flyers defense that has been mired in a state of miserable play and has played a large part in the team's allowing 3.50 goals per game in the 14 contests since the 10-game win streak ended in mid-December. 

It's not like Hakstol or Hextall can push some magic button here and have things fixed in a matter of moments. The Flyers have salary cap and roster issues, so it's going to be tough to bring in a player via trade to help fix things on the back end. Same goes for bringing up a prospect because space on the roster would have to be made first.

This situation leaves the Flyers to fix the problem from within with the defensemen they currently have at the NHL level. They're going to have to play their way out of this. And that's why I'm interested in focusing on the younger defensemen like Gostisbehere and Ivan Provorov right now. We know what the veteran defensemen on this team are and they've been through this sort of thing before. This will not be the last team-wide rut the younger defensemen will play through in their careers. It will happen again. They're going to have to learn how to play through this and not let it affect their individual play. That's why I didn't agree with Ghost's benching in Boston last weekend.  Sure, he has not played well this season and the warts to his game have been evident. And there are times when sitting back, taking a breather and watching can be beneficial. But I'm a believer that a young player has to play through his growing pains and grow from them.

This isn't going to be an answer most of you will like to hear, but with the way the Flyers' hands are tied, they're just going to have to play their way out of these defensive struggles with what they have.