The Tampa Bay Lightning have confirmed that they will use a compliance buyout on the great Vincent Lecavalier. Lecavalier was the first pick for the Lighting in the 1998 NHL draft and has worn the bolt on his chest since then. Lecavalier led the Lighting to the Stanley Cup in 2004 when they beat the Calgary Flames. Lecavalier is one of the best players the league has seen over the last decade.
That however doesn’t change the fact that Lecavalier is overpaid and seems to be losing the battle with father time. Lecavalier, 33, has seven years and $45 million left on his deal, which carries a $7.72 million yearly cap hit. The Tampa Bay Lighting have their future superstar center in Steven Stamkos and Lecavalier is simply being paid too much to play on the second or third line. I do believe however that Lecavalier can help a lot of teams and for the right price can really help a team take the next step. So far, Lecavalier in my estimation is the best player who will definitely be bought out. When all the buyouts are made maybe that will change, but I think Lecavalier has the chance to really help a team over the next two or three years. The Tampa Bay Lighting most likely aren’t going to win the Stanley Cup over the next few years so losing Lecavalier isn’t too bad of a loss.
As I mentioned Lecavalier can still help out a lot of teams in the next few seasons depending on how you use him. If you are looking for a franchise center to build your team around he isn’t the answer like he would have been five years ago, but if you are looking for a second line skilled and poised center than Vinny is your man.
There are many teams in the league with solid top lines and not much depth that could use Lecavalier. There are also some teams who are young and looking to take a step that Lecavalier could help. Teams like the Montreal Canadiens, Winnipeg Jets, and Toronto Maple Leafs are young teams with solid cores to build around and adding Lecavalier could only help them. All of these teams would have to work things out financially but if the money works out I could see them all making a run at Vincent. Then there are teams like the Ducks, Senators, and Flyers who have solid top end players but adding Lecavalier would add some serious depth.
I’m sure most teams in the league will explore getting this player but the teams I think that will be there in the end are the Blues and the Canadiens. The Blues are a good young team with a unbelievable defensive structure. Their problem is putting the puck into the net and Lecavalier knows a thing or two about that. The Canadiens are a young team who just seem to lack that guy in their forward core who can take them to the next level and Vinny can definitely be that guy.
Vincent Lecavalier is one of the most respected guys in the league and is one of the better players over the last decade and he can still provide help for a lot of teams next season. Folks don’t be surprised if we are watching the Stanley cup playoffs next season and Vinny is having a huge impact for his team.