Vincent Lecavalier is the embodiment of that classic question: If you won the lottery today, would you quit your job tomorrow?
Vinny’s getting $32.667 million over the next 14 years, on top of the money he’s already earned on his bought-out contract with the Tampa Bay Lightning – including $8 million in signing bonuses. Some people believe that means he should take less for a chance to win in another market. Ultimately, it appears that Lecavalier is looking for a reasonable five years at $5 million annually from his various suitors.
So he's not quitting his job. But he's also not looking for $10 million per season.
And oh, those suitors. Not since Madonna in the “Material Girl” video have we seen such abject courtship.
Here’s the field of teams that have expressed interest, and engaged in talks, with Lecavalier ...
Detroit Red Wings (Odds: 3/1)
The Red Wings were Lecavalier’s favorite team growing up, and it’s a franchise for which he has a great respect. With Valtteri Filppula most likely gone via free agency, the Wings have over $8 million in cap space available and a need at center.
His contract might be too rich for what Detroit is looking to offer a second-line center, but his puck control skills and character would seem to fit a Mike Babcock team to perfection.
Dallas Stars (Odds: 4/1)
If it’s about the money, then the Dallas Stars could be the choice. Not only because one assumes Dallas will hit his desired numbers, but because the tax advantages in Texas lured Jaromir Jagr there, for comparison’s sake.
Dallas seems to have no trouble with where he is in his career, and is confident he can come in and be a great player (possibly playing between Jamie Benn and Loui Eriksson), so it’s just a matter of making sure he wants to play here and then finding the right price point. Now, Lecavalier has a ton of options, so it’s going to be an interesting process.
Lecavalier met with the Stars, and they expressed solid interest in his services.
Philadelphia Flyers (Odds: 5/1)
The immediate reaction to Lecavalier talking with the Flyers was “WHY?!” Philly’s a team that needs laser focus on its defensive and goaltending issues, rather than dropping upwards of $5 million on a 33-year-old forward. They have limited cap space with some decisions yet to be made. It just doesn’t seem like a financial fit.
All that said: They do need a second-line center, especially with size, and they do need veteran leadership up front. And it’s not as if Ed Snider and Paul Holmgren don’t have an insatiable desire to make headlines with an acquisition.
Boston Bruins (Odds: 8/1)
The Bruins met with Lecavalier with an eye toward making him their No. 1 right wing on a line with Milan Lucic and David Krejci, replacing UFA-to-be Nathan Horton. Peter Chiarelli told CSN New England that Lecavalier would be amenable to the move, but the real issue is cap space – which the Bruins will need every dollar of to sign Tuukka Rask.
Washington Capitals (Odds: 10/1)
The Capitals need a second line center after deciding to move on from Mike Ribeiro, and Lecavalier no doubt would salivate at the prospect of being a part of an Adam Oates power play featuring Alex Ovechkin.
He’s familiar with the franchise from his days in the Southeast, and is a near-perfect fit for what the Capitals want in that role – a veteran leader who’s won before. They might have to move some salary to get Vinny in along with Marcus Johansson, but the fit is there.
Although we can’t imagine the reaction from Ribeiro’s wife if the Caps went five million per over five years with Lecavalier …
St. Louis Blues (Odds: 13/1)
It’s hard to gauge the Blues’ interest. They could be dark horse players for Vinny, or they could be in the market for a cheaper, lower line center. They have the cap space to sign him, and would seem like a geographic fit for Vinny as well – outside of that whole Western Conference travel thing.
Toronto Maple Leafs (Odds: 15/1)
The Leafs’ center position has changed since the Draft after the acquisition of Dave Bolland, which is a trade that occurred after their meeting with Vinny. He would be a solid fit for what the Leafs need, and they obviously have the resources to pay him … but would he dare sign with the Leafs and snub the Canadiens in the process? Which brings us to …
Montreal Canadiens (Odds: 20/1)
We spoke with someone who knows Lecavalier fairly well during the NHL Draft, and he said – without qualification – that Vinny didn’t have a desire to play in Montreal, despite being a Quebec native. The spotlight would simply be too intense.
From a needs standpoint, Lecavalier to the Habs makes sense, given their lack of size and experience up the middle. They’ll have the cap space to sign him, too. But it comes back to Lecavalier playing in Montreal; if he wants to, the opportunity will be there.
Anaheim Ducks (Odds: 30/1)
Vinny would be an upgrade over Saku Koivu on the second line, and to have him skating with Teemu Selanne would be rather awesome. But as Eric Stephens noted, the term and salary Lecavalier is seeking isn’t palatable to GM Bob Murray.
Calgary Flames (Odds: 40/1)
The Jay Feaster connection is the only thing that makes sense here, as the Calgary Flames enter a rebuild and Lecavalier looks for another chance to win. George Johnson gave about 10,000 reasons why this is a poor fit, and it’s hard to argue with about 9,999 of them.
Florida Panthers (Odds: 40/1)
Let’s say Lecavalier just wants to remain in Florida. Well, look at that: The Panthers play there. For Vinny, that’s the lone explanation for inking with the Panthers, and it’s the team’s selling point for him, according to assistant GM Mike Santos:
“There are a lot of reasons for him wanting to stay in the state of Florida. Let’s face it, there are lots of tax advantages in Florida and the money Tampa is buying himself out with is considerable.”
Like with other teams, Lecavalier would fit well with the Panthers and their needs at center (especially with Stephen Weiss leaving). And if he’s super pissed at the Lightning, well, who better to lay down with than the state rival?
Vancouver Canucks (Odds: 100/1)
The Canucks have coveted him for years – although they didn’t speak with him at the NHL Draft – and he’s a perfect second line addition to that roster. But they’d have to play around with salary cap figures and overcome Vinny’s desire to remain in the Eastern Conference. Plus, Lecavalier and John Tortorella had a sometimes tumultuous relationship in Tampa.
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