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NHL not looking into Vincent Lecavalier's 11-year contract with Tampa Bay

Aug 11, 2010, 3:53 PM EDT

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vinnylecavalier1.jpgWhile many players with egregiously long contracts get nervous about whether or not the NHL will come calling to see if their contract will get looked at a little closer, Vincent Lecavalier of the Tampa Bay Lightning doesn’t have to worry about anything. Damian Cristodero of the St. Petersburg Times gets the information that Lecavalier’s 11-year $85 million deal with the Lightning is A-OK according to the NHL.

Some have wondered if Vinny Lecavalier’s 11-year, $85 million contract extension should be scrutinized as well. But NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly wrote in an e-mail Tuesday that the league has “no issue with (Lecavalier’s) contract.”

Lecavalier’s contract with Tampa Bay is one that raised more than a few eyebrows with people because it pays him $10 million a year in the first seven years of the eleven-year deal; a stunning amount to say the least and one that puts him in rare company making eight-figures a year (Roberto Luongo being the only other one). So what makes Lecavalier’s different from the others? Cristodero elaborates.

Lecavalier’s deal also is front-loaded, but the reduction in salary is not nearly as dramatic and for not nearly as long. Lecavalier, whose cap hit is $7.727 million, makes $10 million the first seven years, $8.5 million in the eighth, $4 million in the ninth, $1.5 million in the 10th and $1 million in the 11th. If he plays out the contract, he will be 39 years old when the 2019-2020 regular-season ends. Kovalchuk would be 44 if he played to the end of his deal. Not that it can’t happen, but the arbitrator noted that only six of 3,400 players during the past 20 years have played to 42.

In other words, Lecavalier’s deal, while reducing the cap hit, does not go to extremes. Lecavalier also has played one year under the deal, which means it would be more difficult for the league to revisit the circumstances. That is the problem the NHL may run into with Hossa’s 12-year, $62.8 million deal that kicked in last season, pays $7.9 million annually the first seven years, has a cap hit of $5.23 million and pays $3.5 million total the last four years.

Having already played a year with the contract is very likely to prove to be a saving grace for both Lecavalier and Hossa, and it helps that Lecavalier’s deal isn’t a complete mockery of the system. The same can’t quite be said of Hossa’s contract, but at least Vinny has Big Brother off of his back now. That said, the kind of money drop-off you see in Lecavalier’s contract from its highest peak to its lowest valley is pretty remarkable. At the contract’s peak he makes $10 million in a season, in the final year he makes just $1 million. Seeing your salary fall by $9 million over the course of four years is pretty harsh but apparently perfectly acceptable in the eyes of the league. I’m sure Ilya Kovalchuk’s agent Jay Grossman is paying very close attention to this.

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