Is Vincent Lecavalier a Fit for the Flyers?

Is Vincent Lecavalier a Fit for the Flyers?

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.

Flyers suffer deflating outdoor loss to Penguins, fall in playoff picture

Flyers suffer deflating outdoor loss to Penguins, fall in playoff picture

BOX SCORE

PITTSBURGH – They won the battle inside the faceoff circle. Outshot their opponent badly. Blocked more shots, too.

And the Flyers still lost. Sound familiar?

Saturday's 4-2 defeat (see Instant Replay) to the Penguins at Heinz Field in the Stadium Series outdoor game likely confirms for general manager Ron Hextall it’s time to be a seller at the trade deadline with a playoff berth seemingly out of sight.

"We gotta score goals. We got good opportunities, but it’s getting old," Jakub Voracek lamented. "If we don’t find a way to win a game, nobody cares."

Not enough scoring from their pop-gun offense, which now has just 25 goals over their last 16 games. Which is a major reason why they've lost seven of their last nine.

"It's that cliché, gripping your stick and I don’t like to use that," Voracek said. "The bottom line, if we want to make the playoffs we got to score the goals. We're not scoring."

It was 36 degrees at puck drop and there were swirling wind gusts. Players said the first period was tough, but they adjusted as the game went on.

"It feels good. It feels awesome," Wayne Simmonds said. "It's the way ice hockey should be played."

So should a few wins with this club and it's not happening. They play well enough to win but ...

"We got to get going here," Shayne Gostisbehere said. "We're [five] points back and that's the biggest thing and it's in all of our heads now. It's getting down to not a lot of games left and we've got to get two points."

Goalie Michal Neuvirth did not have a strong game facing 29 shots.

"We walk away with the wrong result," coach Dave Hakstol said. "We have a day in-between to turn the page and get back at it."

Things began Pittsburgh's way with Sidney Crosby scoring at 11:18, sneaking to the low right slot near the goal line to take a perfect pass from Jake Guentzel and one-time into the far side on Neuvirth for his 34th goal.

Brayden Schenn, centering a new line with Nick Cousins and Jakub Voracek, had a solid scoring chance in the final minute of the period, but Pens goalie Matt Murray turned his shot aside. Murray also had two good saves on Sean Couturier earlier from in-tight.

Nick Bonino, one of the heroes from the Stanley Cup Final last season, made it 2-0 at 6:44 of the second period on the power play. He scored almost from the same spot where Crosby scored.

Minutes earlier, Guenztel took a questionable hit to the head area from Brandon Manning which the Penguins felt was illegal (see video). Pittsburgh came back with Chris Kunitz rocking Ivan Provorov two shifts later.

Manning’s hit energized the Flyers, who owned the second period.

Hours before the game, Voracek said what most people were already thinking.

"I would expect this to be the biggest game of the year," he said. "You look at the standings. We can’t afford to lose."

Voracek wasn't kidding when he said the Flyers needed to do something here. He went behind the net 4-on-4 with Justin Schultz and came around the front with the puck to muscle it past Murray at 11:14, cutting the Flyers deficit in half.

Voracek's goal, his second in three games, gave the Flyers even more of a lift and they made a strong push to tie the game before the period ended.

"We spent a lot of time in their zone and we were very strong on the forecheck," Voracek said. "We had comebacks early in the season … but two penalties in the end, it's tough … How do you rebound? You have no choice. We're not out. We have to start winning."

The Flyers killed off a carryover penalty to start the third but immediately after, the Pens got a strong forecheck with Eric Fehr behind the net, getting the puck over to 40-year-old Matt Cullen, who snuck up on Neuvirth and stunned him with a wraparound.

That was a terribly costly goal and made it 3-1 but Gostisbehere got it right back minutes later with his first goal in 34 games off a point shot during the power play.

It was as close as the Flyers got. Pittsburgh scored off a faceoff to make it 4-2 in the final six minutes. Sean Couturier lost a draw to Evgeni Malkin and the Pens scored off a point drive Neuvirth couldn't find.

"That was deflating," Gostisbehere said. "We can be sad for ourselves all we want … bad bounces or we can say, 'well, it's lucky.' But you know, it keeps happening for a reason."

Penn fails to clinch Ivy tournament spot in 70-67 loss at Columbia

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Penn fails to clinch Ivy tournament spot in 70-67 loss at Columbia

BOX SCORE

NEW YORK -- Mike Smith scored 20 points, including a key 3-pointer with a minute left, Luke Petrasek added 17 with a blocked shot as time ran out, and Columbia edged Penn 70-67 in a critical Ivy League game on Saturday night.

The Lions (11-14) and Quakers (12-13) are both 5-7 and tied for fourth in league play with a week to go. This is the first season the Ivy League has a postseason tournament with the top four teams qualifying.

Neither team led by double figures, their statistics were almost identical and there were 11 ties and 10 lead changes, although Columbia took the lead for good on a Nate Hickman's free throws with 10:27 remaining during an 8-0 run.

Hickman gave Columbia a 67-60 lead -- the largest of the second half -- on a 3-pointer with 5:37 to go. The Lions then went 4:11 without a basket, missing seven-straight shots. Ryan Betley's free throws pulled the Quakers within 2 before Smith hit is trey at 1:04.

Betley made two free throws and after a Columbia miss the Quakers had two 3 attempts with Petrasek saving the day.

AJ Brodeur and Jackson Donahue had 16 each for Penn.