So, naturally, it was big news when the Lightning announced they were buying out the final seven years of Lecavalier's 11-year, $85 million contract.
It was obviously disappointing for Lecavalier, and perhaps the fact that Steve Yzerman delivered the news made it a little more heartbreaking.
"It's actually a team I grew up idolizing. Them and Montreal were my favorite teams. Steve Yzerman (former Red Wings captain) was my favorite player." He went on to add, "They made the playoffs the last (22) years. It's a great team, a great organization. It's definitely a place I would consider."
With that in mind, should the Red Wings try to sign the 33-year-old forward?
Lecavalier still has a lot to offer, just not enough to justify a cap hit of over $7.7 million. Injuries and age have hindered his performance in recent years, while Steve Stamkos and Martin St. Louis have continued to lead the Lightning offensively.
Lecavalier was still a factor in the lockout-shortened 2013 season, finishing with 10 goals and 22 assists for 32 points in 39 games. And while he may not be the ultimate two-way forward, Lecavalier isn’t a defensive liability.
On a two- to four-year contract worth around $4 million to $5 million per season, Lecavalier would be a solid addition to Detroit’s lineup.
The Red Wings have 12 forwards under contract, along with two restricted free agents—Joakim Andersson and Gustav Nyquist. On defense, they have seven players under contract, while Brendan Smith is the lone RFA. Factor in the contracts of Jimmy Howard and Jonas Gustavsson, and the Red Wings still have over $7 million in available cap space.
Also, consider the possibility of trading or buying out players such as Carlo Colaiacovo, Todd Bertuzzi, Mikael Samuelsson and Jordin Tootoo. That would give Ken Holland enough cap space to sign Lecavalier, Damien Brunner and take care of the RFAs.
Assuming Valtteri Filppula (UFA) does not return, the Red Wings will need a solid second-line center. Lecavalier could fill in nicely at that role, possibly with Johan Franzen and Damien Brunner on his wings.
Lecavalier’s 6'4", 215-pound frame would add size that Detroit is currently lacking. He also brings significant experience, having played in 63 playoff games, the World Ice Hockey Championships (2001), the World Cup of Hockey (2004) and the Winter Olympics (2006).
Lecavalier played a key role in the Lightning’s 2004 Stanley Cup championship run, recording nine goals and seven assists in 23 games. He also faced the tough task of going up against Calgary Flames captain Jarome Iginla in the finals.
With all that said, Lecavalier will be a highly sought-after player in free agency. If the Red Wings do decide to pursue him, they will face some tough competition, perhaps most notably from the Montreal Canadiens.
Stats courtesy of NHL.com.
Contract and salary cap info courtesy of Capgeek.com.
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