Vincent Lecavalier Signing Shows Flyers Are Lost and Desperate

Richard LangfordCorrespondent IJuly 5, 2013

Apr 14, 2013; Buffalo, NY, USA; Tampa Bay Lightning center Vincent Lecavalier (4) during the game against the Buffalo Sabres at the First Niagara Center. Sabres beat the Lightning 3-1. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports
Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

The Philadelphia Flyers landed one of the the most valuable free agents on the market and revealed how lost this franchise is in the process.

In case you've missed the news, according to TSN's Darren Dreger, the Flyers inked the 33-year-old to a five-year, $22.5 million deal.

Last season, Lecavalier netted 32 points in 39 games, and his value is not just attached to the numbers he puts up. He has nice size and an even bigger presence on the ice. In his 14 previous seasons in the NHL, all with the Tampa Bay Lightning, Lecavalier has become the kind of leader who would be a credit to any organization. 

The problem with this signing is not with what Lecavalier brings to the table. He will be an upgrade at center for the Flyers, and he will help raise the maturity of the locker room while setting a quality example for the youngsters.

The problem with this signing is Lecavalier's contract.

For starters, there are legitimate concerns over how many years of hockey Lecavalier has left. He has been slowed by injuries in the last three seasons, and he's missed 44 games in that span.

This is a situation that Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren should have had the experience to avoid. He has been burnt before by signing players past their prime to long-term, big-money deals.

However, he has cast himself headlong into this strategy. The Lecavalier signing comes on the heels of the Flyers trading for, and then signing, 35-year-old Mark Streit for four years.

So, the Flyers just locked up two players to big contracts that will end when the players are pushing 40. 

Now, those conditions are not the basis for the troublesome nature of this move. 

The problem is that the Flyers just cast themselves over the cap, and they are going to need cap room. 

The Flyers do, and always did this offseason, need defense. Last year, Philadelphia was 23rd in goals against, 26th in goal differential and 28th in takeaways.

Ignoring this, they've added an offensive defenseman and a center. They have little flexibility to fill any other holes. 

Just as irresponsible of Holmgren is what these moves do for the 2014-15 season. That is when center Claude Giroux, winger Matt Read, center Brayden Schenn and defensive forward Sean Couturier all become free agents.

The Flyers are going to need cap space to bring this young core back, and it's now difficult to see where that space is going to come from. 

The Flyers signed a quality player, but they ignored bigger needs to do so and put themselves in a bad position cap-wise going forward.