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It's hard to imagine Vincent Lecavalier having a worse 2014-15 season than he did during his opening campaign with the Orange and Black.
After an encouraging start (five goals and seven points in eight October games), the 34-year-old forward fell off the map, amassing just 15 goals and 30 points through his final 61 outings. What's worse, the former Stanley Cup champion was a complete afterthought during the postseason, compiling just one goal and two points while averaging the third-lowest per-game ice time (10:41) among all Flyers.
Lecavalier missed 13 games last season due to injury, including nine in December, and the 15-year veteran never appeared to be the same thereafter.
An experiment at wing proved disastrous, and by season's end, the four-time All-Star and $22.5 million offseason acquisition had been relegated to fourth-line duties.
Efforts by newly appointed general manager Ron Hextall to trade Lecavalier have proved futile so far and at least for now, it appears the much-maligned pivot from a year ago will be back in a Flyers jersey next season.
If so, there are two key factors that should lead to a considerably better campaign next year for both Lecavalier and the Flyers.
First, Philadelphia needs to accept that Lecavalier is a center and head coach Craig Berube needs to find second-line center minutes for the former "Rocket" Richard Trophy winner. Like it or not, the Ile Bizard, Quebec, native and his $4.5 million annual cap hit needs to play in the middle and not in the middle on the fourth line.
And second, Lecavalier needs to stay healthy. He missed three games in mid-October last year and was able to recover from that but simply wasn't himself after missing the bulk of December's schedule. He managed just 11 goals and only 23 points in 47 games after returning from his nine-game midseason absence.
Lecavalier will never be the 40- to 50-goal scorer he was less than a decade ago, but there's still every reason to believe he can crack the 30-goal plateau given the right circumstances.