Monday, February 1, 2010

Vinny Lecavalier?

Vinny is so last year right?  Around this same time last year, everyone had Lecavalier headed to the Habs to help usher in a new century of hockey in Montreal.  Unfortunately for the Habs and the NHL; a deal was never worked out.

Fast forward to 2010 and not much has changed.  The ownership situation in Tampa is still uncertain and once again Vinny is rumored to be on the market.  Guess who's interested?  THN Ken Campbell reports the Kings are.  And he's got names!
It’s believed the Lightning would want a large package of players and draft picks for Lecavalier, along with the cap and salary relief they’d receive by dumping Lecavalier’s contract. The Lightning has apparently asked for defenseman Jack Johnson, right winger Wayne Simmonds, a prospect and several draft picks. 
First off, it's great to finally hear the Kings mentioned as buyers.  For so long, the talks been what team's going to give us some draft-picks come the deadline.

Secondly, isn't that the same package being requested by Atlanta for an un-extended Kovalchuk?

Is Vincent Lecavalier worth the $10-million he'll earn for the next six years?  Maybe.

At 29, his current contract takes him thru the 2019-20 season.   He's set to make $10 million thru the 2015-16 season, $8.5 million, $4.5 million, $1.5 million and $1 million in the years following.  With the trailing years tacked on, Lecavalier's cap-hit is a bit more friendly at $7.727 million.

Many say his performance has dropped off.  I still think he's one of the top centers in the league.  Unfortunately for Vinny; Steven Stamkos has evolved into Tampa's franchise player and consequently stolen Lecavalier's linemates.  But if you watch the Lightning play, Lecavalier is still an impact franchise player.

I can live with trading JJ.  The way he handled Dean Lombardi situation irks me about how mature he really is.  That coupled with the drawn out contract negotiations and his sub-par performance are enough for me. 

Simmonds is the kicker here.  I love the guy and apparently so does the rest of the league.  I'd rather not think about Simmer playing anywhere else.

Prospects/Picks.  Dean's done a marvelous job of strengthening the reserve list.  But there's only so many spots on the roster.  Unfortunately, not all these prospects will play for the Kings but if they can be dealt for a franchise player like Vinny.  Yes please!

Take a look at recent Stanley Cup Winners.  In addition to great goaltending; every team's had a great 1A/1B center combination.  Penguins with Crosby/Malkin, Red Wings with Datsyuk/Zetterberg, Hurricanes with Brind'Amour/Staal, Lightning with Lecavalier/Richards.

As much as I love Jarret Stoll; he's not in the same-class as any of those players.  Some would argue that Brayden Schenn could be that player but I'm not sure the Kings are prepared to wait 3-4 years to find out.  

Looking at the upcoming free agent market, the best UFA centers that might become available over the next two off-seasons are: 2010 Class: Patrick Marleau, Tomas Plekanec and Olli Jokinen; 2011 Class :Brad Richards, Joe Thornton and Patrice Bergeron.  I only see Plekanec, Jokinen and possibly Richards hitting the open-market.  None of which are capable of being impact players in the same way Vinny is.

Awesome Lecavalier goal from last week versus Montreal.

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