Vincent Lecavalier is a bad idea

Jonathan Willis
July 05 2014 07:00AM

Lecavalier

According to pretty much every sports journalist in Philadelphia, Vincent Lecavalier is on the trade block.

Understandably, some in Edmonton have suggested him as a fit for the Oilers. He’s a reasonably big name, he’d add some size up the middle (6’4”, 215 pounds) and he’s still a very capable scorer.

It’s a bad idea.

The Cliff

640px-Train_wreck_at_Montparnasse_1895

The following select advanced statistics are courtesy of BehindtheNet.ca:

Age Season QCRank ZoneStart CorsiRel
27 2007-08 1 62.1 -1.6
28 2008-09 1 60.0 7.6
29 2009-10 5 55.4 3.9
30 2010-11 9 45.9 -0.8
31 2011-12 2 54.3 3.6
32 2012-13 6 51.9 0.9
33 2013-14 9 58.2 -9.6

There is a story in those numbers, and it’s the story of a train falling off a cliff.

Lecavalier hasn’t always been a particularly stunning two-way player over this time period, but even in his bad years he’s generally not trailed the team by a whole lot and he’s had the excuse of tough opposition (2007-08) or tough zonestarts (2010-11). Some of the years reflected in that table are legitimately excellent; others are at least decent.

Not so 2013-14.

Lecavalier was gifted by the Flyers with pretty much ideal circumstances to run up the score: a high ratio of offensive zone starts and weak opposition. The five forwards he spent more than 100 minutes with were Brayden Schenn, Wayne Simmonds, Sean Couturier, Matt Read and Claude Giroux.

Lecavalier got destroyed. All five of those linemates were better away from him than with him. He posted his worst per-shift scoring numbers of the Behind the Net era and likely since establishing himself as an NHL’er. The Flyers were brutally outshot with him on the ice.

It was a disaster.

Obstacle & Risk

Paul Holmgren's Creidt Card

When the Flyers signed Lecavalier – right after Tampa Bay spent $32.7 million to rid themselves of his cap hit – they didn’t do the typical low-risk deal that most players who end up on the wrong (or, possibly, right) side of a compliance buyout get. Instead, they dived right in, giving him a five-year contract at a $4.5 million cap hit.

Four years of that deal remain, carrying Lecavalier through to his age 37 season.

Understandably, the Flyers now want to dump that ill-advised deal. CSN Philly’s Tim Panaccio writes that he was told the Flyers were only willing to take on $1.0 million per year of the remaining deal, and that in many hypothetical trades Philadelphia wouldn’t be willing to eat a substantial portion of that deal.

He also writes that the Ottawa Senators might be willing to take Lecavalier off the Flyers hands, “but league sources say [G.M. Bryan Murray] wants the Flyers to pick up a hefty portion of the contract and he also wants something in return - most likely another player or draft pick.”

An extra wrinkle is that Lecavalier owns a no-move clause.

Any team making a trade would need to a) convince Lecavalier to waive his no-move clause, b) convince the Flyers to eat a chunk of the remaining deal and c) would still be stuck with a four year commitment to a player coming off a terrible year and moving into the age bracket where skills fall off sharply. The only redeeming feature is that the deal’s actual salary falls off the rest of the way (though the cap hit stays at $4.5 million).

A trade involving a buyout (with a substantial sweetener from Philly, as Lowetide suggested last night) isn’t much better. The CBA rules for a buyout require the team to spend two-thirds of the dollars on the remaining contract to make the player go away, and the cap hit pain is spread out over eight years. It’s hard to imagine a scenario where the Flyers would sweeten the pot enough for Edmonton to take on that kind of long-term albatross.

Could a trade for Lecavalier with no intention to use a buyout work out? Sure. But it’s a risk best assumed by a team with an internal cap that isn’t worried so much about the cap hit as they are the modest dollar figure attached to Lecavalier in the final years of his deal. It’s not a risk that makes sense for the Edmonton Oilers, who would be risking attaching a salary cap millstone just as the team starts to emerge from a long and ugly rebuild.

As for the Flyers: if they decide they really need to clear cap space, Braydon Coburn and Wayne Simmonds are pretty good players. I’m sure they’ll find some team willing to relieve them of those contracts.

RECENTLY BY JONATHAN WILLIS

74b7cedc5d8bfbe88cf071309e98d2c3
Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, Sportsnet, the Edmonton Journal and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
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#51 bwar
July 05 2014, 01:46PM
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How bad of an idea is Mike Ribiero for one year?

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#52 Kim
July 05 2014, 01:51PM
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Frans Neilson is the answer

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#53 DoubleJ
July 05 2014, 01:57PM
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I still think ribero would work for a one year contract. He puts up points and he should be motivated to prove himself.

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#54 Mujidog
July 05 2014, 01:57PM
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Yes. No thanks. Not like Lecavalier would ever want to come here anyway. He's frigging rich, has no ties to the Oilers, and doesn't seem like the "mentoring" type.

I think he will elect to stay in Philly.

PS: remember when Lecavalier was considered perhaps the best player in the world? It was a brief time - probably only a few months - but the hype was certainly there. He's accomplished a lot and was pretty great but never did seem to hit that next level..

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#55 DoubleJ
July 05 2014, 01:58PM
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Still need another center though to fall back on.

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#56 Mujidog
July 05 2014, 02:02PM
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Mike Ribiero's not coming here. No way. 0%.

You might not put much weight into "character", but the Oilers executives - whether or not you agree with them - certainly do.

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#57 Dwarr
July 05 2014, 02:02PM
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Smokey wrote:

No one.

Before I get trashed with disdain at the very mention, but hear me out.

Try Hall one more time. Last year we lacked depth everywhere, and his linemates were not ideal.

I also believe you could shelter him a bit more and get better matchups. Last year he was thrown to the wolves with Nuge out to start the year the first couple games. Play him with responsible linemates, try and get him against the soft parade.

Trash away....

Almost a good idea except for the fact that we are brining in a 2C to shelter Leon can't have two sheltered lines especially out in the west brooks laich would be the ideal fit in my mind Hall. Nuge. Ebs Perron. Brooks. Purcell Pouliot Leon yak Hendrix. Gordon like to add speedy rw with size Arco gazdic would be extras

This gives us depth and two really defensively responsible lines that could take some of the pressure of the top line to contain others and allow the third line cup cake minutes to produce plus brooks could slide down the depth chart as time comes

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#58 RexHolez
July 05 2014, 02:10PM
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"just as the team starts to emerge from a long and ugly rebuild."

easy now willis, there's no proof of that. a bad lecavalier is an upgrade for this team. a rebound lecavalier is a god send.

no one seems to want to give up any assets to fill the 2c hole. if you can get lecavalier without doing that, I cant see how you don't do that due to 1 bad season

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#59 SlowTalker
July 05 2014, 02:32PM
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RexHolez wrote:

"just as the team starts to emerge from a long and ugly rebuild."

easy now willis, there's no proof of that. a bad lecavalier is an upgrade for this team. a rebound lecavalier is a god send.

no one seems to want to give up any assets to fill the 2c hole. if you can get lecavalier without doing that, I cant see how you don't do that due to 1 bad season

ONE bad season?

Easy now RexHolez. Over the years Lecavalier has had only two good seasons. The others were terrible.

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#60 Chunkylover69@google.ca
July 05 2014, 02:52PM
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And who cares if we do pick up ribero?? The guy is a awesome talent who has always been a jerk but backed it up with play. Edmonton is older and added more leadership in the last few years. Even if ribero is a cancer he won't spread if he's signed for a year or two as he sorts out his personal issues surrounded by professional class acts. It might be the best fit for everybody. He was just bought out for huge $$, if we could capture him cheaply for a year or two why not??

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#61 Total Points
July 05 2014, 03:09PM
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All the good UFA #2 centres are gone. Oilers will have to trade for a centre capable of playing second line.

A 2C is more important than a winger. A winger can be sheltered so trade one of our many wingers for a #2 center ie Perron, Eberle or Yak.

have to give something to get something. Other teams aren't stupid. Oilers cannot trade two or three AHLers like Arco, Lander. Klefbom, etc and expect anything good.

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#62 Dockstaff
July 05 2014, 03:15PM
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bwar wrote:

How bad of an idea is Mike Ribiero for one year?

How bad could taking poison for a year be?

Aside from the fact that he is of poor character, he is an undersized, skilled forward, who is not known for his back-checking. That sounds familiar!

Then there is the fact that Arizona, a near playoff team, chose Sam Gagner OVER Mike Ribeiro!

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#63 Smokey
July 05 2014, 03:38PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

Just a reminder, everyone: let's not go around alleging somebody has a drug problem without published substantiation. Thanks!

Jonathan your on crack.

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#64 bwar
July 05 2014, 03:49PM
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@Smokey

*you're

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#65 Smokey
July 05 2014, 03:53PM
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bwar wrote:

*you're

Its a blog. I could care less about punctuation. Its my way of reblling against my university edmucation by purposely ignoring punctuation.

You'r welcome.

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#66 Smokey
July 05 2014, 03:54PM
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And spelling. Sorry to offend u. My bad.

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#67 Zarny
July 05 2014, 04:34PM
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Mujidog wrote:

Yes. No thanks. Not like Lecavalier would ever want to come here anyway. He's frigging rich, has no ties to the Oilers, and doesn't seem like the "mentoring" type.

I think he will elect to stay in Philly.

PS: remember when Lecavalier was considered perhaps the best player in the world? It was a brief time - probably only a few months - but the hype was certainly there. He's accomplished a lot and was pretty great but never did seem to hit that next level..

I remember. February 2008 people were talking about Lecavalier being the best player in the world over the last season and a half in the pre pre-Olympic hype for Vancouver.

108 PT and 92 PT back to back and then by comparison off a cliff. Even pro-rated he dropped to 71, 70, 68, 62 and 67 PT prior to last year.

Certainly not shabby but from where he was at it's a headscratcher. I don't know if he just lost motivation after getting paid, started believing his press, was lazy and didn't train to begin with, likes to party, has been diminished by injury or just doesn't give a s**t anymore after winning a Cup but he looked bad last year. He can still shoot like a mo fo but his legs look shot.

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#68 Zarny
July 05 2014, 04:53PM
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SlowTalker wrote:

ONE bad season?

Easy now RexHolez. Over the years Lecavalier has had only two good seasons. The others were terrible.

Easy now, let's keep it real.

In 14 NHL seasons, Lecavalier has 3 seasons you could perhaps argue were "terrible". His rookie season and last year are 2 of them. 39 PT in 80 games in 2002-03 is the other.

Otherwise, his Lecavalier's production over 82 games has been 69, 62, 80, 67, 77, 108, 93, 71, 70, 68, 63 and 67.

Even tossing out his 2 best seasons 62-80 points over 82 games is hardly "terrible". That's just silly.

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#69 Jasmine
July 05 2014, 04:54PM
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@madjam

Don't believe what Eklund says as he's wrong 99.9% of the time.

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#70 Jasmine
July 05 2014, 04:57PM
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@Mujidog

Vinny doesn't want to play in the west and that eliminates 14 teams right there. It's been mentioned many times.

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#71 Dog Train
July 05 2014, 06:20PM
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It's not the point of the article, but what kind of an idiot hands out a such a long contract at 4.5 million to a player who was just recently bought out?

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#72 Fresh Mess
July 05 2014, 08:05PM
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Jasmine wrote:

Don't believe what Eklund says as he's wrong 99.9% of the time.

I prefer the bastion of hockey journalism: The Rock, Bruce "Eklund" Garrioch

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#73 Fresh Mess
July 05 2014, 08:07PM
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Jasmine wrote:

Vinny doesn't want to play in the west and that eliminates 14 teams right there. It's been mentioned many times.

And the chases bashed their way the slats out of town.

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#74 Ari Gold
July 05 2014, 09:32PM
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With Legwand signed, are there any decent 2way centers left??

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#75 Old time oil fan
July 05 2014, 10:06PM
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pkam wrote:

Didn't Legwand sign with the Sens yesterday for 2 years at 3M per? Why do we want to spend 4.5M for 4 years on Lecavalier when we could have signed Legwand to a much shorter contract for a lot less?

Both players are likely going downhill, so I'll rather have Legwand for 2 years even at 3.5-4M over Lecavalier at 4.5M for 4 more years.

The Oil tried to land Legwand but he accepted less cash and term to play in Ottawa instead of here!! Go figure. Sometimes overpaying isn't enough to offset the bad reputation that Kblowe has established. The sooner Kblowe goes the sooner this team has a chance of becoming a destination of choice.

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#76 BillHK
July 06 2014, 08:33AM
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Philly management may be stupid, but even they wouldn't get rid of Simmonds and Coburn just to make cap space.

They will most likely need to buy out Lecavelier. Then as a FA, if he's willing to come out west, a 1 year deal might make sense to provide an NHL center with size to have flexibility with Draisaitl, Arco, Lander. Such a deal would be highly unlikely though, as MTL would offer a better one.

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#77 BillHK
July 06 2014, 08:40AM
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Chunkylover69@google.ca wrote:

And who cares if we do pick up ribero?? The guy is a awesome talent who has always been a jerk but backed it up with play. Edmonton is older and added more leadership in the last few years. Even if ribero is a cancer he won't spread if he's signed for a year or two as he sorts out his personal issues surrounded by professional class acts. It might be the best fit for everybody. He was just bought out for huge $$, if we could capture him cheaply for a year or two why not??

I take it you're a big fan of shayne corson.

The Oilers would be better off with Lecavelier than Ribero.

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