[AUTHOR’S NOTE: This was written for The Broad Street Bully, a blog and podcast my friend Drew and I started based off of our mutual interest in the Philadelphia Flyers. See it on http://broadstreetbully.net.]
It’s the end of August, training camp is right around the corner, and Vincent Lecavalier is still a Flyer. If you read any articles on the Flyers at the beginning of the offseason, it was a foregone conclusion that Vinny was going to be traded as soon as Hextall found a suitable partner. As the summer progressed, that unbridled optimism turned into seething anger and it seems like most people are turning on Hextall for not acting quickly enough.
But what is Hextall supposed to do? Vincent Lecavalier is pretty much untradeable and here are some reasons why.
In 2013, Paul Holmgren surprised Flyers fans and spent $22.5 million over five years for Lecavalier. The same Lecavalier who had just been bought out of a contract by the Tampa Bay Lightning. The same Lecavalier who was the captain of the Tampa Bay Lightning when they won the Stanley Cup. The contract had seven years and $45 million remaining. Vinny only made it four years into his eleven-year deal before the Lightning severed ties with him.
So, with the Lightning seeing fit to not get saddled with a ridiculous contract, Holmgren went ahead and outbid himself when Vinny hit the open market. There were rumors that other teams were interested in Lecavalier but those will remain rumors because who is going to confirm or deny rumors after the ink dries?
As of today, a $4.5 million dollar cap hit for a guy on the wrong side of thirty doesn’t bode well for finding a suitable trade partner. Let’s remember this: the Coyotes took Chris Pronger’s contract along with Nicklas Grossmann to reach the cap floor this offseason. Think about that. Really, I’m not kidding. Think about that. The Coyotes literally took on the contract of a guy who will never play again, and is already in the Hall of Fame, to reach the cap floor. That with a healthy (assumed) Lecavalier, who could potentially help their lineup while also filling cap space.
But that Coyotes trade was before his July bonus. But the Flyers paid his $2 million dollar bonus that was due July 1st. And then the trade rumors reignited once that was out of the way. But, alas poor Yorick, here we are.
Face it. No one wants him.
Vincent Lecavalier apparently has brittle bone disease because looking at his games played numbers isn’t impressive. Look at his final years with the Lightning. For a guy with an eleven-year contract making big money, he should be playing in almost every game, right? Granted, last season with the Flyers he was saddled with injuries as much as he was just a healthy scratch but, still, the guy has had past issues staying healthy. That’s a red flag for any team considering taking on his services because he isn’t getting younger.
HIS BODY, PART DEUX
Face it. When you get older you’re not the player you used to be. Lecavalier is a big body. But he’s also slow. Sometimes painfully slow. And the game at the NHL level has involved into speed being a requirement. The days of big guys dominating is all but done. He lacked the real speed to keep up with the new style of the game and, when he did go all out, he usually ended up hurting himself. Try explaining “everytime he tries he gets injured” on a scouting report.
And, with the hiring of Hakstol, the whole team looks to be getting a speed first overhaul. With Vinny slow, and getting slower, he’s not going to fit into those plans.
As much as I’m coming down hard on Vinny, it’s not entirely his fault. It’s hard to put up quality numbers when Berube was throwing him on the third and fourth lines with guys who are only there to drum up energy.
To justify a $4.5 million dollar cap hit, the goals, assists, and points totals have to be higher. George Michaels agrees with me: that’s just the way it is. And was he ever given a fair chance? Was it because Berube was playing him on the third and fourth lines? Or was Berube playing him on the third and fourth lines because he didn’t have the gas or speed to play on the top two lines? When you’re going against Claude Giroux for a top line spot, you’re probably going to lose every time.
Is Vincent Lecavalier a victim of circumstance? I’m not going to blame him for signing the contract. If someone was offering me $4.5 million a year to play a game I would take them up on it. No, we can’t fully blame Vinny.
A lot of the blame for this mess has to go on Holmgren. He should’ve realized that the Lightning were buying him out for a reason. And that reason was his production wasn’t justifying the cap hit.
So, where do we go from here? If Hextall was planning to trade him then he’s got to work some real magic. Rumors were that Nashville was interested but it looks like they still hate Holmgren too much for the Shea Weber debacle to ever deal with the Flyers again.
Does that leave a buyout? It doesn’t make sense for the Flyers to take an unnecessary cap penalty when they’re always operating close to the cap ceiling anyway.
It’s looking more and more like, come game one of the season, Vincent Lecavalier will be in the lineup in some way or another. I think Hextall is smart enough to know you can’t pay a $4.5 a season just to look nice in a suit from the press box.
I would still wait on buying that jersey, though.
- **SOURCES USED FOR THIS ARTICLE ARE BELOW
- Lecavalier’s stats pulled from NHL.com