Sunday evening Philadelphia Flyers General Manager Paul Holmgren announced that center Vincent Lecavalier will miss 3-4 weeks with a non-displaced fracture in his back. Lecavalier has missed the last three games and was sent home from the current road trip to have his back examined. There are three reasons why this hurts the Flyers:
First, he is an important part of what the Flyers do on the ice. His on ice presence makes Brayden Schenn and Wayne Simmonds better. Lecavalier has missed 7 games so far this season and in those games the Flyers are 2-5. He has 9 goals and 5 assists in 22 games and anchors the second line. Brayden Schenn will have to step up in his absence, but he most likely will not be as effective as Lecavalier in that spot.
Second, his leadership will be missed. The Flyers are still a young, struggling team. In the midst of a road trip they need their off ice leaders to lead them through adversity. The young guns on the Flyers can learn a lot from how Lecavalier handles himself on the road and from the off ice wisdom that he brings to the team. Losing him for the rest of December (at least) will force the Flyers to play 7 road games without Vinny.
Finally, this hampers the Flyers trade efforts. No, I do not think that they should trade for someone to ‘replace’ Lecavalier. They should not be trading for a forward at all. They need to trade for improved defense. However, any trade to improve the defense would most certainly involve a young forward. With the loss of Lecavalier, the Flyers cannot afford to be trading away their forwards. They have a dynamic top nine forwards, and with this injury they’ve lost one. They can’t afford to lose one or two more via trade.
Holmgren was correct when he said that the team will need to step up in Lecavalier’s absence. Hopefully a guy like Jason Akeson or Tye McGinn (I’d prefer Akeson, I love his offensive instincts) will be called up and will bring the team a spark. But there is no doubt that this is a devastating loss to the Flyers.