Goodman Sports hockey specialist Robert Wranovics reports:
The Tampa Bay Lightning are
buying out Vincent Lecavalier's contract for around $32 million. Lecavalier
motivated to go somewhere else and prove I can play at a high level," on a
conference call yesterday. This move will free up cap space for
the Lightning as his contract would have cost them a $7 million cap hit for the
upcoming season. Okay, sure the team has Steven Stamkos, but Lecavalier was
good for 32 points in 39 games, lighting the lamp 10 times and getting 22
assists. He was a big part of Tampa Bay's successful offense this past season
(the same cannot be said about the defense). This makes things very interesting
and heats up the Free Agency market big time. Here are my top choices for teams
he is most likely to go to and why:
There have been early rumblings the Canadiens will take a serious shot at him.
With that being said, he will get a very nice contract going to Montreal and
more importantly give them the potential offensive edge they need. They were
fifth in the league last season coming in behind Pittsburgh, Chicago, Tampa Bay
and Washington. Is this the best place for him to win a cup? Probably not, but
it wouldn't be bad odds. This would limit Montreal as they currently sit only
$9 million under the cap. The lure of Lecavalier coming back home could be
Toronto Maple Leafs: He
could be the missing piece to the Leaf's puzzle and they certainly could use
him. They could pay him handsomely as wel,l as they have nearly $19 million to
play with in cap space. This team went far in the playoffs and Lecavalier could
provide that extra push needed to go the distance. The only problem is hockey
is not nearly as intense in Tampa as it is in Toronto. If he signs, will his
star status continue or crumble underneath the Toronto pressure?
Chiacgo Blackhawks: This
is a nice and simple one, they just won the cup and if winning another one is
important to him, this is the obvious choice. The problem is that Chicago still
has contracts to fill before even thinking about Lecavalier. He still would be
a great fit for this team and could make them a possible repeat winner for the
cup. Unless big moves are made, this fit just won't happen despite both parties
wanting it. Chicago currently sits only $2 million under the cap. However, if
it isn't broken, don't fix it.
Why not have a reunion with the head coach that helped him win the cup in 2004?
The Canucks were in the bottom half of the league in scoring and Tortorella
does know Vinny very well and they do have great rapport. Suppose they
buyout Luongo, suddenly they have room for Lecavalier's contract. This could be
a match made in heaven if the cards fall in place. Tortorella could use
Lecavalier to rebuild his reputation and Lecavalier could use Tortorella to
step up his game and lead the Canucks past a first round exit. The problem
is that the Canucks have under $1 million in cap space at the current time.
New York Rangers: Okay, now you probably think I
had one too many here but bear with me. There is talks that Brad Richards's
contract might be bought out which would free up space for Lecavalier. Richards
did go missing in the playoffs and his confidence may be broken for a little
while because of Tortorella or because of the pressure that comes with playing
in the Big Apple; Lecavalier will be coming in a proven winner unlike Richards.
Either way, The Rangers have around $14 million to play with at the current
time. It is no surprise that the Rangers desperately need offense and Vinny
could be the answer to the offensive struggle and power play disasters. Lastly,
if anything their GM is good at, it's that Sather loves bringing in big names. –
Gaborik, Nash, Richards, Gomez, Drury, Redden, Jagr...