The idea of embracing Lecavalier as an asset to this team might not be as crazy as it sounds.
At this point, the secret is out. There is virtually zero chance the Flyers will find a willing recipient of Lecavalier’s massive deal, and they have made it clear they did not submit a buyout offer for him.
So if you have him, why not utilize him?
Lecavalier still has gas left in the tank, but has failed to find chemistry in Philadelphia. While a part of that has to do with player personnel, a huge part of it stems from the strained relationship he had with former coach Craig Berube. Lecavalier didn’t produce, but he was also constantly stuck on different lines where he didn’t have the ability to perform.
Sean Couturier is the polar opposite of Vinny Lecavalier. Putting a very good defensive-minded forward with a completely offensive-minded forward is going to fail nine times out of ten, and it did here.
Lecavalier spent a majority of playing time this past season buried on the fourth line. While there, he was surrounded by players such as Chris VandeVelde, Zac Rinaldo, and Pierre-Edouard Bellemare. That line rarely saw the ice, and when they did, they weren’t out there to score.
Aside from being stuck on marginal (at best) lines, Lecavalier is also a center who was thrown into the role of a winger. That is easier said than done, especially after he spent fourteen seasons at center with the Lightning.
That brings us to Dave Hakstol.
Hakstol needs to find a line that fits Lecavalier. The Flyers cannot afford to have a $4.5 millon center on the fourth line or as a healthy scratch. Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek didn’t have a scoring winger beside them all year. If the Flyers are going to keep Lecavalier, maybe they should give him a shot with these two. Voracek and Giroux are both very responsible defensively, so that’s a start.
If Hakstol can even get Lecavalier back to the 20 goals he scored in 2013-2014, I would consider that a success.
Lecavalier is lacking on the defensive front, but if given an opportunity to score some goals, he just might produce again. That production won’t come if he is on the third or fourth line. Yes, Lecavalier has seen some time on the first and second line, but it was a small sample size at best. He was never given time to develop chemistry with any of the guys he played with up there.
He’s here for the length of his deal. The Flyers need to find a way to make the most of it.
Matt is a contributor for the Philadelphia Flyers at The Hockey Writers. He has previously covered the Flyers for GrandstandU. He enjoys playing hockey and making music in his spare time.