Renaud Lavoie of RDS is reporting that the Tampa Bay Lightning will buy out Vincent Lecavalier. Lecavalier was the first pick overall for the Lightning at the 1998 draft. Tampa ownership once called him the “Michael Jordan of Hockey” and he has been one of the faces of the franchise for the past decade. Lecavalier won a Stanley Cup with the Lightning in 2004.
There are 7 years and $45 million remaining on Lecavalier’s contract, which carries a cap hit of $7.727 million. The buyout will cost the Lightning $30 million over the next 14 years. As an amnesty buyout, Lecavalier can not re-sign with Tampa, and so the centre will be looking for a new home when Free Agency opens on July 5th.
With 32 points in 39 games this past season, and with 205 points in 250 games over the past four seasons, it is clear that Lecavalier is still a top 6 centre in the NHL. While he may not have been living up to the mega deal that the previous Tampa ownership signed him too, he should be a highly sought after free agent, and potentially the best centre on the market.
Another important factor is that Lecavalier is 33-years-old and would not be subject to the restrictive provisions of the CBA surrounding a 35+ contract. He may be able to get himself another long term deal, as a highly sought after commodity.
Lecavalier has 383 career goals, and 874 career points in 1037 career games, all with Tampa.
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