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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.

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