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Moving on without Lecavalier will be tricky for Tampa Bay

Aug 5, 2013, 11:56 AM EDT

Vincent Lecavalier AP

Tampa Bay GM Steve Yzerman’s decision to buy out longtime captain and Stanley Cup winner Vincent Lecavalier was a hard one for him to make. It was difficult from a financial standpoint as well as one for building their team.

The Lightning have no problems figuring out who plays on their top line. Steven Stamkos slots in at center and Martin St. Louis on the right wing. Cutting loose Lecavalier left a gaping hole at center on the second line. Enter free agent Valtteri Filppula.

The Lightning signed Filppula away from Detroit to the tune of five years and $25 million. You might be thinking he’s not as good as Lecavalier but over the past few seasons, and you might be right.

Going back to the 2010-11 season, Filppula has 48 goals and 74 assists in 193 games over three seasons. In that same span, Lecavalier has played in 168 games with 57 goals with 78 assists. Fewer games played due to injury but more offense overall.

When you add 2013 first-round pick Jonathan Drouin to the mix, you’re adding a guy who comes with tremendous offensive potential and someone who might slide onto either line. That means more points to go around. At least, that’s what coach Jon Cooper is hoping for.

Having to go through their first season without Lecavalier since 1997-98 is going to be hard for many fans in Tampa. If Filppula can’t pick up where Lecavalier left off and he goes on to thrive in Philadelphia, it won’t be the heat or the humidity making things uncomfortable in Florida.

  1. DonkeyStick - Aug 5, 2013 at 12:17 PM

    “Having to go through their first season without Lecavalier since 1997-98 is going to be hard for many fans in Tampa.”

    Why do I fee that going through 5 years at $23 million with Lecavalier is going to be harder for many fans in Philadelphia?

    And yes, I’m a Philadelphia fan.

    • phillyphanatic77 - Aug 5, 2013 at 1:55 PM

      5 years may be a year too long, but it’s also possible that Lecavalier is productive through the entire life of the contract. He will be 37 (year 5) which isn’t the end of the world in the NHL. In today’s game we see plenty of stars that put up #s into their late 30s and even early 40s. I’ve heard ppl bring up Brieres decline, however, it’s a lot easier to survive and produce in this game when you’re 6’4″ as opposed to 5’8″. I’ll admit it’s not ideal but, overall, the contract is actually a bargain, especially compared to some other deals handed out. I mean Filpula (a lesser player) got 5yrs 25.

      I personally can’t wait to see Lecavalier in orange and black. I think he’ll slide seamlessly into Laviolette’s system and produce his usual 25 goals 60pts. And the projected line of Simmonds-Lecavalier-Schenn has me really excited. If Schenn hits his stride this season, that 2nd line could be one of the best in hockey. Can’t wait til October. Gotta get the taste of last seasons debacle out of my mouth.

    • sizzle299 - Aug 5, 2013 at 7:49 PM

      @donkeyballs Perhaps you feel that way because many fans in this city are like you, don’t know a good move when you see one.

      Is there anyone else with that level of talent who could be got without losing any team asset of the so-called young core– plus at a reasonable cap? Didn’t think so. Hardly a team in the league who wouldn’t do what the Flyers did. You complain about term, but he was not going to sign a two year deal. If there is a move to gripe about…this is NOT it.

  2. blackhawks2010 - Aug 5, 2013 at 12:51 PM

    Tampa becomes a better team without Vinny, he has been a non factor the past 4-5 years. Philly overpaid for an aging former star who’s best days are in the rear view mirror.

    • hockey412 - Aug 5, 2013 at 1:07 PM

      I hope that you are right about that, but I’m not so sure it’s the case. Philly needs leadership for their young guys (that should be really good as long as they get that leadership)…and they are willing to pay for it. However, the guy’s had over 20 goals for almost every season in his career, including the past 4-5 (he was on pace to last year). Might not be lighting it up nightly, and might never break 50 goals again, but I’m disagreeing on him being a non-factor.

      Either way, I could be wrong – it will be interesting to see him with Philly.

    • nhloon - Aug 5, 2013 at 1:07 PM

      Sad but true, who knows though, maybe they get him on a line where he starts pushing the play again.

      But yea, Vinny’s best days are certainly behind him.

    • stepanup - Aug 5, 2013 at 1:12 PM

      Non-factor? 32 points in 39 games during the lockout is the definition of a non-factor nowadays? He may not be the player he was, but he’s not as old as you may think either. He can still produce, and will produce a lot of Philly. The question for him will be staying healthy. Playing with Simmonds and Schenn on the second line (maybe) will be a physical nightmare for opposing D, and should take some of the physical wear and tear off of Vinny.

      That said, Filpulla is a better player than he showed last year. He may not be the 70 point player from two years ago, but I could see 55-60 for his talent, and if he can do that, there’s no problem with him as a second line center.

    • biasedhomer - Aug 5, 2013 at 6:10 PM

      Not really. Vinny is still a very good player, but he never lived up to that contract. Flippula is a downgrade, but the cap hit save will help Tampa in the future.

    • biasedhomer - Aug 5, 2013 at 6:34 PM

      And how can you say overpaid? He got less money than many of the other big names on the market. If anything, he signed for below the market value (but he is getting paid by 2 teams so he makes out)

  3. sjsharks66 - Aug 5, 2013 at 12:59 PM

    I forgot how goofy looking he is.

    • alicesrightfootesq - Aug 5, 2013 at 2:34 PM

      I think most female fans would disagree.

  4. raymondlasky11 - Aug 5, 2013 at 1:27 PM

    Agreed that buying out Lecavalier left a big hole at 2nd line center but Filppula has the potential to fill that and he was not brought in to replace Vinny as a prolific scorer. Yes the production of a 2nd line center needs to be there for him but what he brings to the team is better two-way play and puck possession which the Lightning need much more than another pure goal scorer.

  5. narfmoo12 - Aug 5, 2013 at 2:03 PM

    So LeCavalier gets 32 points in 39 games and he’s overpaid and injury prone. Filppula gets 17 points in 41 games and gets a bigger contract but he’s a better move? LeCavalier is 33, wins faceoffs, and still averages .8 ppg. He’s a better signing than Filppula, Clarkson, Clowe, Weiss, Horton, and Bozak. Btw, isn’t Filppula 29 and doesn’t he miss significant time pretty much every year? How much untapped potential is there? And isn’t Tampa’s top scorer a 38 year old?

    • President Charles Logan - Aug 5, 2013 at 9:36 PM

      Tampa’s top scorer is Steven Stamkos , he’s not even close to being 38

      • narfmoo12 - Aug 5, 2013 at 11:49 PM

        St. Louis had 60 points. Stamkos had 57. Lawyered.

      • President Charles Logan - Aug 6, 2013 at 1:03 AM

        oops

  6. lionstigersandwingsohmy - Aug 5, 2013 at 4:30 PM

    “The Lightning signed Filppula away from Detroit” HAHAHA. Pretty hard to say that with a straight face. I heard somewhere that Holland flew down to Tampa to give Yzerman a pen to sign that contract with. Filppula looked for a while like he was going to become Datsyuk lite, decent scorer, good passing, responsible defensively. He lacks grit and I believe peaked a couple of years ago. Prepared to eat crow if I’m wrong.

  7. President Charles Logan - Aug 5, 2013 at 9:32 PM

    Yeah the Flyers have made some mistakes with some big contracts for older players in the last 20 years but , this guy’s gonna have a really good season I have a feeling .

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