This summer the Tampa Bay Lightning bought out their captain Vincent Lecavalier. Lecavalier’s contract had seven years and $45 million dollars remaining on it. He won the Stanley Cup with the Lightning in 2004, beating Philadelphia in the Eastern Conference Finals, and was the face of the Lightning franchise. One of the biggest stories heading into the game Wednesday night is that he will play his first game in Tampa Bay since being bought out.
Lecavalier is not the player he was in 2007, but at $4.5 million a year, he is a steal. When one considers that this summer David Clarkson signed for seven years, $36.75 million ($5.25 million AAV) and Ryane Clowe signed for five years, $24.25 million ($4.85 million AAV), the signing of Lecavalier is brought into even greater perspective. So far Clarkson and Clowe have a combined six points in a combined 20 games. Lecavalier has 13 points in 19 games. Not only is he big, fast, and skilled, but he provides steady leadership and experience. If you consider the Flyers dilemma on the back end (multiple overpaid, under performing defensemen) the signing of Lecavalier looks even better.
So far, Lecavalier is tied for the team lead in goals (8) and is third on the team in points (13). His on-ice role as a second line center fits his skill set perfectly at this stage in his career and buys the Flyers more time for Sean Couturier’s offensive game to develop. His instant chemistry with Wayne Simmonds has provided the Flyers with a solid one-two punch (and the recent breakout of the third line gives them a one-two-three punch).
It is nice to see Lecavalier succeed. Even just by watching his interviews, his class and hockey IQ shine through. No team wants to get rid of a Vincent Lecavalier, but the Lightning were put into a tough position this summer. The Flyers were fortunate to capitalize. The Flyers got a top-end offensive talent with great experience. With all that he has done, it is hard not to root for Vinny Lecavalier.