Could Vincent Lecavalier help the Nashville Predators club that struggled on offense last season?
Vincent Lecavalier: A Predator?
The Nashville Predators and Philadelphia Flyers were rumored to have made a deal to Vincent Lecavalier to the Nashville during last year’s offseason. The trade would’ve reunited Lecavalier with his former coach Peter Laviolette.
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Lecavalier had a 20-goal season in 2013-14, but was a disappointing -16 that season. He quickly fell out of favor with Coach Craig Berube after Laviolette was fired. Lecavalier played in 57 games in 2014-15 and managed a career-low eight goals.
The news of Berube getting fired will not change the situation for Vincent Lecavalier. New coach Dave Hakstol is changing the system and forwards will have a lot of defensive responsibilities. Lecavalier has been a liability on defense the past couple of seasons on defense.
Hextall on Lecavalier: "Hasn't worked for Vinny, hasn't worked for us. At this point … a new coach probably hasn't changed anything."
— Frank Seravalli (@frank_seravalli) May 20, 2015
Deal Falls Through
Berube and Lecavalier were never on the same page, and General Manager Ron Hextall treid to trade Lecavalier. The Florida Panthers and the Nashville Predators emerged as two suitors for Lecavalier, but nothing came of it.
The Predators and Flyers were rumored to have had a deal completed twice. However, both deals were shot down by Chairman Tom Cigarran because of some bad blood over the Flyers signing Shea Weber to a gigantic 14-year offer sheet. Nashville matched the offer sheet, but were still annoyed at the front-loaded deal.
A separate deal with the Florida also fell through, and Vincent Lecavalier stayed in Philadelphia. Nashville decided to make a low-risk deal with Mike Ribeiro that reaped big rewards.
Free Agent Forward Frenzy
My colleague Colin Fitts pointed out that the team only has five forwards on the active roster signed for next season. The rest of the forwards are either restricted or unrestricted free agents.
The team will try to bring back Colin Wilson, Craig Smith, Mike Fisher and Ribeiro. Young forwards Kevin Fiala and Viktor Arvidsson will also try to earn a roster spot.
The Preds do have nearly $30 million in cap space, and scoring as a problem. Could a guy like Vincent Lecavalier work in Nashville?
I asked Flyers contributor Andy Dudones what he thought of Lecavalier coming to Nashville.
Is it worth the risk? That all depends on Nashville’s offseason plans, as well as what the Flyers decide to do with Lecavalier. Ultimately, it’d be hard to see the Preds acquiring Lecavalier via a trade without the Flyers absorbing some of his contract. That’s even with Nashville’s $29.644 million of open cap space.
Lecavalier is still under contract until 2018, and Philadelphia needs defensive help. The Preds are rich in defense, and could part with a blueliner. The Predators would probably ask the Flyers to take some of the salary hit if they did trade
However, the more frugal solution would be to wait until Lecavalier’s contract is bought out. The team could get him at a more cap-friendly price and wouldn’t have to trade anyone.
The Predators do need scoring, and a deal like Mike Ribeiro’s might be a good idea. However, Lecavalier has not been the same player that won a Stanley Cup and was the MVP of the World Cup of Hockey in 2004. Ribeiro was good at faceoffs and pitched in on defense.
Lecavalier could be the first player to be bought out twice. I don’t think the Predators should try to sign him if that happens. He’s too much of a problem on defense to be worth the contract.
What do you think? Leave your comments below.
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Dan Mount is a Nashville Predators staff writer for The Hockey Writers. You can follow him on Twitter, @DanMountSports.