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Lightning will buy out Lecavalier

Jun 27, 2013, 9:15 AM EDT

lecavaliergetty Getty Images

The Tampa Bay Lightning have made the difficult decision to buy out the remainder of Vincent Lecavalier‘s 11-year, $85,000,000 contract.

“Vinny has been a significant reason for many of our past successes, including the 2004 Stanley Cup, and his contributions to the community are immeasurable,” said Lightning GM Steve Yzerman in a statement on the team’s website.

“The Lightning organization is indebted to Vinny; we thank him for all he has done here and we wish him well as he moves forward.

“After much internal deliberation, we believe this will prove to be a pivotal move for us as we strive to achieve our long term goal of competing at the highest level, year-in, year-out. The economics and structure of the CBA are necessitating this decision and we at the Lightning are excited at the newly created opportunities this presents to us.”

The 33-year-old is still a very effective top-six forward, but it’s been a while since he lived up to his $7,727,273 annual cap hit and things were likely only going to get worse given that his contract wasn’t set to run out until the summer of 2020.

Even still, this couldn’t have been an easy decision for Tampa Bay, given that they will now pay Lecavalier $32.67 million over 14 years to not to play for them, according to ESPN and TSN’s Pierre LeBrun.

On top of that, if it wasn’t for his cap hit, the Tampa Bay Lightning probably would have loved to keep him. In fact Tampa Bay and Toronto were rumored to be working on a deal where the Lightning would give Lecavalier and an asset to Toronto so that the Maple Leafs would buy out Lecavalier instead. That would allow Lecavalier to re-sign with Tampa Bay at a more cost effective rate.

The NHL warned that such a maneuver would be seen as CBA/salary cap circumvention.

As it stands, Lecavalier will be regarded as one of, if not the best unrestricted free agent on the market. Almost every team would love to have him — minus, of course, his old cap hit.

  1. tmoore4075 - Jun 27, 2013 at 9:24 AM

    Very surprised. Makes sense cause of the money and term but didn’t think a team in a market like Tampa would do it. Big money and losing the face of your franchise. Montreal would be my guess for top destination. How many rumors have their been over the years?

    • eggserino - Jun 27, 2013 at 9:27 AM

      Yeah, it’ll depend on where Lecacalier wants to go, won’t it? Is he going to go where he makes the most money, where he feels he has the best chance to win the Cup, or a sentimental favorite? Anyone got eyes into the brain of one Vincent Lecavalier?

      • tmoore4075 - Jun 27, 2013 at 9:32 AM

        A lot of options for this guy. Montreal to go back home. Calgary could be reunited with Feaster. Or go to a talented team where you can just be part of team and have a chance to win. I’d take the last option personally but that’s me. I hope money isn’t the driving force since he’s made $40mil over the last 4 years and will be getting $30mil more over the next 14 to not play.

    • eggserino - Jun 27, 2013 at 9:42 AM

      He could also go sentimental and sign with the same team that signs Richards, kinda like Selanne and Kariya a few years back with Colorado…

      • govtminion - Jun 27, 2013 at 9:54 AM

        If anything, he should use that debacle as a cautionary tale…

      • perlaezra6 - Jun 27, 2013 at 5:41 PM

        up to I looked at the paycheck that said $8625, I didnt believe that my best friend was like trully receiving money parttime on their apple labtop.. there friend brother has done this for only about seventeen months and as of now cleard the dept on there mini mansion and got a great new Lotus Esprit. I went here,
        orlandosentinel.com

    • nyrnashty - Jun 27, 2013 at 10:58 AM

      Stamkos has been the face of Tampa for the past few years now.

      • tmoore4075 - Jun 27, 2013 at 12:56 PM

        And if the Lightning ceased to exist today who of the two would be looked at as one who did the most for the franchise? The captain who has been there 14 years and won a Cup or a great goal scorer on a bad team? My point is Vinny has done more for the franchise and the city than Stamkos has so far and you are letting a guy go who everyone seems to like and people thought would be there until he retires. Not saying it’s right or wrong, not my place I’m not the GM or owner, just saying you are cutting ties with a big part of your team’s history.

    • jfelano - Jun 27, 2013 at 2:22 PM

      A team in a market like Tampa? What is that supposed to mean?? We sell out every game.

  2. eggserino - Jun 27, 2013 at 9:25 AM

    Boy, he would look good in a (fill in the blank) sweater. Y’all can thank me later for posting that for you!

  3. ntvd7 - Jun 27, 2013 at 9:31 AM

    He hasn’t been the same since the hit from Matt Cooke…

    I guess he’ll finally get to play in Montreal

    • alicesrightfootesq - Jun 27, 2013 at 10:19 AM

      Another great career hampered by a Neanderthal.

      • ntvd7 - Jun 27, 2013 at 10:23 AM

        Unlike that comment all you like, it’s true…

        There was a definitive change in his game after that injury

    • drone501 - Jun 27, 2013 at 2:48 PM

      lots of other players can also say that.

  4. dboldave - Jun 27, 2013 at 9:57 AM

    I’m surprised they didn’t try to trade him before the deadline this year. I know when his name came up in trade scenarios, TB shot it down pretty quickly.

  5. convincedofthehex - Jun 27, 2013 at 10:02 AM

    This the final act of destruction by the prior owner. V4 should never have been signed to that contract. He would have stayed in Tampa with a lesser contract. He is the face of the franchise and respected by the whole community. No question his skills have eroded and he has been somewhat injury prone. I’m hoping he takes a one year deal somewhere else and then comes back to Tampa for the rest of his career. When his playing days are done his number will be retired immediately.

    • jb8588 - Jun 27, 2013 at 12:55 PM

      This couldn’t be more true of a statement, but at the same time Stevie Y hasn’t done much better as a GM in my opinion. The last ownership made some dumb moves, in particular trading Dan Boyle in a very ugly manner. But at the same time, signing Matt Carle to that big contract last night is just the beginning of quite a few questionable moves that Yzerman has made. I seem to dislike what he’s doing by each and every move he makes regarding the roster…

      • jb8588 - Jun 27, 2013 at 12:59 PM

        *last season

  6. wingz101 - Jun 27, 2013 at 10:24 AM

    I bet he is at the top of the UFA list of almost all the teams right now. Especially the Red Wings (yes I am a Wings fan) or Maple Leafs, both teams looking for bigger centers. Detroit in particular has been the home to many a solid 30-something veteran and Lecavalier would fit right in there. I am sure Yzerman has told him how the players are treated there and Vinnie probably want to play with a team that has an offensive bent.

    As for going home to Montreal, he has said a million times Tampa is home and has been for 15 years. He is deeply involved in the community there and almost not at all in Montreal. Plus the French media will go bananas clamoring for him now and that will turn him off big time.

  7. 19to77 - Jun 27, 2013 at 10:50 AM

    Wings are likely done with Filpulla. If Vinny’s going rate is agreeable, I’m sure they’d love to have a chat.

    Toronto’s in an awkward spot with Bozak regarding how much each side thinks he’s worth, and he’s not a true #1 centre by the numbers. Great in the faceoff circle, not so much on the scoreboard. Vinny solves that and helps their PK too.

    Montreal… eh, they’ve got centre depth. Unless they trade one of theirs I can’t see it.

    Columbus, NYI and NJ would all love to have his services I’m sure, but I doubt he’d feel the same.

    Oh, right, almost forgot: Paul Holmgren, of course, has a 12-year $100 million dollar deal in the works as we speak.

    • ju8686 - Jun 27, 2013 at 11:03 AM

      I’d say 3 years 20 million for now, then Homer gives him an 8 year /$120M extension with full NMC after he hits 35 …

    • Mike Williams - Jun 27, 2013 at 12:05 PM

      As much as I would love to see Vinny in a Devils jersey, I honestly do not think it is a possibility. They just signed Zajac to a 6 year extension and with the emergence of Henrique and Loktionov over the past two seasons, it would be a giant mistake to sign him and stunt their growth. Also next year could finally be the year were Jacob Josefson could make the leap into becoming a full time NHLer. I know he is a huge upgrade over the guys that we have on the roster now but Lou likes his team as is, or to quote him “Status Quo”…..

  8. ray2013 - Jun 27, 2013 at 11:05 AM

    Montreal has been dreaming about him forever. They’ll probably make the biggest offer for him.

  9. jaybyrd99 - Jun 27, 2013 at 11:16 AM

    Is his buddy brad Richards next?

    • stakex - Jun 27, 2013 at 2:33 PM

      If I was a betting man, I would say no…. at least not yet. They might give him one more season to see if a coaching change sparks his game at all. If it does, the Rangers can still use a compliance buyout next season.

  10. clefty1 - Jun 27, 2013 at 11:19 AM

    I would not mind seeing Vinny sporting the Winged Wheel that would give the Wings a great 2nd line center and able Babcock to play Datsyuk and Z together.

    • davidsmj22 - Jun 27, 2013 at 12:19 PM

      Someone has been reading Helene St. James’ articles. But I do agree, it would be nice to see this happen but I’m not going to hold my breath on it.

  11. moarjam - Jun 27, 2013 at 11:37 AM

    It all depends on what VL is looking for in terms of years/$. If he’s willing to take a 1-2 year deal, NYR and Washington would be good fits. Richards will be bought out and VL>Ribeiro (and just might come cheaper).

    I think it would be a great move if Montreal could sign him and then move Desharnais to a center needy team (phx?). Montreal already has too many “smurf” type players in Desharnais, Gionta and Gallagher. I know they all player bigger than they are but lets be honest… you aren’t going to win in the playoffs when 1/4th of your forwards are 5’8″ and below. VL would certainly address the size problem.

    • stakex - Jun 27, 2013 at 2:38 PM

      Two things. First of all, the Rangers might not buy Richards out and I’m really not sure that Lecavalier is all that much better then Ribeiro. He’s probably a better goal scorer, but I think Ribeiro is a better all around player.

      • moarjam - Jun 27, 2013 at 3:51 PM

        Not sure about that one man. I think Ribeiro is a bit of a one dimensional player. Couple that with the fact that he’s a bit of a dbag and has been run out of two cities already, I’ll take Vinny any day over Ribeiro.

  12. matthews4 - Jun 27, 2013 at 12:02 PM

    If he does not sign with a Canadian team, I can see him signing a 1 year deal and then returning to Tampa. He really loves it, and he could continue to build his life after hockey.

  13. leeeroooyjeeenkiiins - Jun 27, 2013 at 12:05 PM

    Man, this is tough…I know it had to be done, and my anger is aimed at previous ownership for having no idea how to negotiate contracts(among many other things), but that doesn’t make it much easier. We lost not just a great hockey player today but one of the classiest and most philanthropic players to ever play in Tampa regardless of the sport. Wherever he goes, I plan on getting tickets when they come here and being a part of the huge standing ovation that he’ll get.

  14. bildomatic - Jun 27, 2013 at 12:05 PM

    Curious what this means for Tampa in the draft… Leaning towards Barkov over Douin? Many are saying Barkov can step into the NHL as a solid 2nd line two-way center after impressing playing against men in the top finnish league. Drouin may slide all the way to Nashville at #4.

    • jb8588 - Jun 27, 2013 at 12:57 PM

      I have a feeling that if Drouin is still there at #3, he will be taken. I believe the Bolts are now willing to get Tyler Johnson a shot at the #2 center position. The fact that they decided to trade Conacher over Johnson to Ottawa shows their dedication to Johnson…and a guy like Drouin will only make Johnson better out there.

      • sunking1 - Jun 27, 2013 at 5:59 PM

        I am not sure who Tampa takes in the draft but if they let Vinny go to free cap space and then decide that Tyler Johnson is going to be their #2 Center, the Bolts are in deep deep shiite next year. They need to get a productive asset with that cap space they have just opened up. You don’t let 20+ goals, 50+ assists and a 55%+ faceoff win % go and not replace that with a NHL caliber asset. Tyler Johnson may be ready to move to the NHL but not as a 2nd line center.

  15. hawksin5 - Jun 27, 2013 at 12:30 PM

    Hawks just bought out olesz, and montador about an hour ago making $7 million the cap space currently. And need a #2 center…. Sharp-lecavalier-Hossa on 2nd line?? I can dream right? Oh boy!

  16. philk0731 - Jun 27, 2013 at 1:08 PM

    He’ll end up in Vancouver with Torts

    • hawksin5 - Jun 27, 2013 at 3:47 PM

      Last I checked, Vancouver has 45 THOUSAND dollars in cap space. I don’t see that happening hahaha

    • georgejarkko - Jun 27, 2013 at 4:13 PM

      him and Torts weren’t exactly buddies…

  17. jhuck92 - Jun 27, 2013 at 7:22 PM

    So who gets to wear the “C”? Stamkos or St. Louis?

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