Vincent Lecavalier has made off like Scrooge McDuck over his career. The former first overall pick inked a massive 11-year, $85 million deal with the Tampa Bay Lightning back in 2009-10, and was subsequently bought out via the teams compliance buyout just four seasons later. The move put Lecavalier on the team’s payroll until he’s the tender age of 47. When he hit free agency, he immediately inked a 5-year, $22.5 million contract with the Flyers.
Two years later and the Flyers are reportedly looking to move him and his huge contract.
Tim Panaccio of CSN Philly says it’s a given he’s not returning to the club, writing “Hextall has made it rather clear in several interviews since the end of the regular season that Lecavalier will not return because, in his words, “it hasn’t worked for him and it hasn’t worked for us.”
In the column Panaccio notes Lecavalier has a $2 million signing bonus coming his way July 1st, so he’s likely trying to deal him before that marker – which is no small task.
To say Lecavalier’s two Flyers seasons have been underwhelming would be an accurate descriptor.
His first season was mild but by no means atrocious, as the Quebec native scored 20 goals over 69 games. His second season was a straight up disaster. He scored a career-low eight goals over 57 games, saw regular shifts on Philadelphia’s fourth line, and logged 12:39 per game – the worst mark of his career. His 46.3 CF% placed him among the worst among Flyers players with at least 500 minutes played. He didn’t even come close to earning his $4.5 million per season salary.
His agent Kent Hughes told Flyers beat reporter Randy Miller back in March that Lecavalier’s shortcomings were due in part to a lack of an opportunity under former coach Craig Berube.
“The situation hasn’t met either side’s expectations in Philadelphia,” [Lecavalier’s agent Kent] Hughes said. “If Vinny wants the opportunity to end a fantastic career on a good note, it’s not going to happen so long as Craig Berube is head coach of the Philadelphia Flyers. I’m sure if Vinny found a good environment … an opportunity to go to a new team and end on a good note, I wouldn’t be surprised if he retired before finishing the term of his deal.”
The Flyers have since fired Berube and replaced him with Dave Hakstol, but it seems very unlikely Lecavalier will get a chance to play under the new coach.
Can the Flyers trade Lecavalier? Yes. As the David Clarkson deal proved, anybody can be traded, but it’s going to be difficult. He’s owed $4.5 million per season over the next three years, a contract many teams aren’t lining up to add. The long-term deal happy Flyers are already pressed up against the cap and have an equally, and possibly more boneheaded contract that they’d like to move in Andrew MacDonald and his remaining $25 million over five years – although they could buy him out. Either way, he’s a goner.
Teams with ample cap room, like the Arizona Coyotes, Florida Panthers or Buffalo Sabres may be willing to take on his remaining deal, but the Flyers would really have to sweeten the pot to make it happen. The team would likely have to give up a solid prospect or draft pick (they hold two first-rounders in next weeks draft) if they’d like to move Lecavalier or one of their other big contracts. That’s a catch-22 because the club has to dump his contract, but also need to build their prospect core. It’s going to be difficult to accommodate.
Hextall needs to get creative, otherwise he may be stuck with a player who he doesn’t want, and clearly doesn’t want to be there. It’s going to be an amusing offseason in Philly.