LeBrun: “Canucks Front Office See (Lecavalier) as a possible fit if they can get out of cap hell”

Image courtesy wikimedia commons.

Surely the most shocking piece of hockey news on Thursday involved Vincent Lecavalier, and the decision of the small market Tampa Bay Lightning to use a compliance buyout to get out from under his contract. The Lecavalier buyout will run the Lightning close to thirty-three million dollars over fourteen seasons according to capgeek.com, an NHL record that surely won’t be topped (a Luongo buyout would run the Aquilini Group $27 million).

Over the past three seasons Lecavalier has recorded one-hundred and thirty-five points in one-hundred and sixty-eight games, so he’s scored at a .8 points per game rate since his age thirty season. That’s pretty impressive even though some of Lecavalier’s production appears to be percentage driven of late and he’s only an even possession player at this point in his career. Also he’ll turn thirty-four by the first playoff round next season. Still, Lecavalier is an enormously productive top-six centreman who measures in at 6,4. Oh, he’s also now poised to hit the open market in free-agency this summer.

Needless to say Lecavalier will have plenty of suitors, including the Canucks to hear Pierre LeBrun tell it on the Team 1050 on Thursday. "The Canucks front office has already talked to John Tortorella about this," Lebrun passed along on Thursday, "and they see this as a possible fit if they can get out of cap hell, which they’re in now."

Read on past the jump.

There are, as I see it, a variety of potential and very significant hurdles to a possible union between Tampa Bay’s former franchise centreman and the Vancouver Canucks. The first of those hurdles, as Pierre Lebrun pointed out, is Vancouver’s complete lack of cap space. If the Canucks can rid themselves of the Luongo contract and are willing to use a compliance buyout on Keith Ballard, which y’know they totally should do, then you can begin to see how the Lecavalier math might work.

The other issue is how risky a Lecavalier deal would be for the Canucks or for any other team that signs him to a contract this summer, for that matter. Lecavalier is going to have options this summer, which will serve to dramatically inflate his value. That’s a dangerous prospect when you’re dealing with a guy who is rapidly approaching that point in his career where he’s going to begin to incur significant "diminishing returns" as an offensive player.

Lecavalier doesn’t appear to be there yet (he continues to draw penalties at a consistent, elevated rate which is something you like to see from an aging forward), but if you’re buying Lecavalier’s age thirty-three, thirty-four and thirty-five seasons in say, a three year deal, you need to understand that the value is unlikely to be there in year three of that pact.

Finally, TVA has already reported that Vincent Lecavalier would prefer to stay in the Eastern Conference:

So if the Canucks are hoping to snare the 6,4 veteran on the open market, they’ll have to absolutely ace their pitch. Being able to call on newly hired bench boss John Tortorella, who coached Lecavalier when the Lightning won the Stanley Cup almost a decade ago, could be helpful in this regard. Of course "helpful" and "sufficient’ are two vastly different standards…

If the Canucks can sign Lecavalier this summer, it would go a long way toward addressing the club’s gaping hole at the centre position in the short-term. Based on Lebrun’s comments, team is apparently interested, but there are a lot of hurdles to clear first and there will be a lot of competition for Lecavalier’s services on the open market. And even then, should the Canucks manage to win this summer’s Lecavalier sweeps, what they’ll really win is the right to sign an aging player to an overpriced deal…

  • Mantastic

    “And even then, should the Canucks manage to win this summer’s Lecavalier sweeps, what they’ll really win is the right to sign an aging player to an overpriced deal…”

    I agree – too many potential hurdles and downsides to this. Moving on…

  • Mantastic

    Great player, but no thanks. The Nucks have tried this before, and it failed multiple times. PLEASE someone younger, with a decent skill set, and workable cap hit.

    • KleptoKlown

      Richards is NO Lecavalier. Richards deserved to be benched and was benched because he was playing like a POS. Generally, the world rewards good play not POS play. That’s why good teams win, they play good and bad teams play like a POS.

      • Mantastic

        What I mean is that Tortorella supposedly was a large reason Richards signed in New York.

        Considering how the Torts/Richards saga ended in New York, perhaps Lecavalier with think twice about doing what Richards did when he followed Torts to a new team.

  • Mantastic

    Even if we can get Ballard and Luongo’s contract off the books in their entirety, we’ll only have at most 3m to spend on a centre. Lecavalier will go to the team that offers him the longest term, which won’t be the Canucks.

    We’ll probably end up playing Burrows at centre and putting Jensen on the wing.

  • KleptoKlown

    This years Shane Doan. Would be great to see him in Canuck colours, but only at the right term. If some team is going to offer him 4 years at 5 million, don’t bother.

  • JCDavies

    Sounds like Lecavalier wants this to be his last contract. If it’s more than three years, I say pass. His signing could make someone else available anyways, as the dominoes fall.

    This situation has the potential to set Lecavalier up for another buyout next year, which would be amazing. That’s what I really want. You’re up Feaster, make this happen.

  • Forget Lecavalier, I’m just happy that boston got what they deserved from the hockey gods. The Hawks exposed Chara and Boston and the ” Boston Bruins Style ” of play is dead. Look for next year to all the other teams do the same thing to Boston that the Hawks, did…which is to simply play the mothers and walk around Chara like a pylon and make him run for the puck like a dog.

    Boston couldn’t handle the Hawks speed and counter ans even a better goaltender could not save them. Cahra looked good, when you don;t play him, but when you do, he’s more of a liability than an asset. But the look on Boston players faces is something I will treasure forever, esp The Boston players who ran their mouths off season after they won the cup like Cheapshot Chara, Fingers Bergeron ,CryBaby Lucic, Rat Marchand and especially roid goon Thornton. Enjoy the choke, Boston chumps! And thanks you Leafs for losing to them, it’s more painful to lose in the finals then it is the 1st round. Boston realized early that the Hawks aint the Canucks, LOL. It’s too bad classless Recchi wasn’t still on that team as well. There truly is divine karma. LOL

  • KleptoKlown

    Here’s to hoping Brad Richards also gets bought out, and Filpula goes to free agency. The more UFA centres available, the better for the Canucks. It drives the price of centres down, due to more supply. Maybe Bozak becomes an option for our 3C position. If his contract demands come down to the 4million or less range, we could afford him (assuming Lu and Ballard are gone).

    • Mantastic

      if you sign Bozak to 4m that and you get rid of both ballard and Luo without any cap penalities, means you will have 6m for the remaining 7 roster spots…

  • BrudnySeaby

    IF Lecavalier is smart, he signs with the team that gives him the best shot at winning for a very, very modest cap hit. He got paid $40 million over the last 4 years and has a lot of dough still coming his way. So if he is smart he signs for peanuts to help his new team bring in as much talent as possible. However, I doubt he will.

    • BrudnySeaby

      Why exactly is it smarter to take less money?

      Typically taking the most money possible is the smartest decision.

      Believe it or not, professional athletes have different motivations than what we like to project onto them.