Wednesday, July 3, 2013

FLYERS: Lecavalier agrees to terms with Philly, but Flyers still have issues to address

July 2, 2013

By Nick Tricome

The Flyers secured one former captain when they reached a deal with defenseman Mark Streit, and  now they secured another.

Center Vincent Lecavalier, the former Tampa Bay Lightning captain who was bought out of his contract a week ago, has agreed to five-year, $22.5 million contract with Philadelphia. The deal will carry a $4.5 million cap hit, along with a no-movement clause.

The winner of the Maurice Rocket Richard Trophy for the 2006-07 season, Lecavalier has played in 1037 games-- all of them with Tampa Bay-- over a 14-year career.

The 33-year old forward has 383 goals and 491 assists for a total of 874 points. But while adding a scoring threat like Lecavalier is a good move, the deal won't give the Flyers a lot of room to move, at least for now.

With Lecavalier's contract on the payroll, the Flyers are $318,522 over the NHL's set $64.3 million salary cap, even after buying out the contracts of Danny Briere and Ilya Bryzgalov. That's a problem.

The Flyers' still have a few important needs to address, based on the way the roster looks right now. They need to strengthen up their defense as much as possible and also need to find a goaltender that can split time with Steve Mason at the very least.

Defenseman, and currently the longest tenured Flyer on the roster, Braydon Cobrun has popped up in trade rumors with the Edmonton Oilers. That would free up $4.5 million of cap space if GM Paul Holmgren can move him. Plus, Chris Pronger will go back on the long-term injured reserve list when the season starts in October, taking his $4.94 million cap hit off the books.

So, because of Pronger, the Flyers have a bit more flexibility than there appears to be. And they'll have more room to spend if they can trade Coburn by the time free agency opens on July 5.

There also could be other ways Holmgren can free up more cap space, maybe by moving players that haven't been brought up in the rumor mill yet.

Having a guy like Lecavalier on the team is great. A 6' 4", 223 lbs. center  that is capable of scoring 20 or more goals a year is something that all 30 NHL teams would like to have, even if a team has a lot of centers already (Claude Giroux, Brayden Schenn, Sean Couturier, Max Talbot and possibly Scott Laughton).

However, there is still a lot of work that needs to be done to this team before they can be considered serious contenders for the Stanley Cup. Work on the blue line and between the pipes.

As it stands right now, there isn't a lot of money to spend and Lecavalier's contract plays into that. But who knows, maybe the financial outlook will be completely different for the Flyers by the time July 5 rolls around.

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