Is Vinny Lecavalier A Good Or Bad Signing for Philadelphia?

(James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports)
(James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports)

Two days removed from the NHL Entry Draft that saw Paul Holmgren come away with some questionable picks, the Philadelphia Flyers have gone out and reportedly signed Vincent Lecavalier to a 5-year, $4.5 million dollar deal, according to Darren Dreger.

Speaking of questionable picks, the collective fans of Philadelphia are probably thinking, “…and how exactly does is this supposed to help our defense, Homer?”

Don’t jump the gun, patrons.  While it may not be the main piece the Flyers are missing – ie. a number 1 defenseman – the signing  seems to be solid all the way around, with a few minor issues.

Lecavalier inked an 11-year, $85 million dollar contract with the Tampa Bay Lightning beginning in 2009-10 .  His productivity slowly declined every passing year.  He wasn’t the cornerstone piece the Lightning had been hoping when they originally signed him to the extension.  In this money conscious NHL and with the salary cap going down next season, the only option for Tampa Bay was to buy-out their golden boy and clear money to make more cap-friendly signings.

The Good

At 33 years of age, Lecavalier may be past his prime, but he still brings a very well-rounded offensive game to the Flyers.  Claude Giroux has solidified his place as the premier 1st line center and Sean Couturier has the 3rd line covered.  On this Flyers team, Lecavalier is a perfect fit to be slotted as the 2nd line center.  It’s a he’s been playing in since Steven Stamkos made his way into Tampa Bay.

Lecavalier brings even more leadership to the Flyers locker room that was severely lacking identity last season.  With his offensive talent, Vinny brings a great one-two punch with Giroux and relieves much of the pressure that’s been on the Flyers captain’s shoulders from last season.   With Giroux and Lecavalier centering the top two lines, the Flyers immediately become one of the best faceoff teams in the league.  The two centers had above a 54% faceoff winning percentage last year.  But let’s focus on the deal, shall we?

Over the past few days, Lecavalier had upped his contract demands from a 2-3 year deal to a 4-5 year deal.  After signing this 5-year deal, Lecavalier will be 38 by the time the contract ends.  A 37-38 year old making $4.5 million is a little rich for my blood, but the signing does fill a need that the Flyers are currently lacking.  It also allows for more cap space in years to come.

The Bad

The deal now puts the Flyers roughly $318k over the cap.  The team will now have to move a relatively large contract to get far enough under the cap to make a push for an elite defenseman.

Braydon Coburn has been rumored to be on the way to Edmonton.  According to Tim Panaccio, if the Flyers are to make a move with Edmonton with Coburn, Theo Peckham will likely be a piece the Oilers would include.  The part that unnerves fans is the idea that either Couturier or Brayden Schenn will likely have played their last games in a Flyers sweater.  Holmgren is still looking for a number 1 defenseman to step into the lineup and to do that, one of the two promising young players will have to be the odd man out.  It just goes to show  that the Flyers are still content with not building through the system.

Meszaros should be the likely candidate on the blueline to get moved, but we know the smart decisions Paul Holmgren has made in the past regarding defense…

The Verdict

The Flyers still need a dominant defensive core to achieve any success.  Last I checked, Vincent Lecavalier isn’t a defenseman.

But he is a piece the Flyers need that has more positives than it does negatives.  Philadelphia is going up against some of the top offensive teams in their own division and Vinny Lecavalier lends a helping hand in that department.  He creates opportunities on the rush, is a great set-up man, and still has the skills to contribute game in and game out.

I think Holmgren has a few more tricks up his sleeve and the Vincent Lecavalier has gotten the ball rolling.  A young forward like Couturier or Schenn is the likely victim in all of this, but Flyers fans should know by now that Paul Holmgren doesn’t like to wait for results.  He wants to win now and signing Lecavalier should help.

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