Vincent Lecavalier is a bad idea

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

  • Serious Gord

    Is it even possible to get both of the schenns? If Phillys problem is cap space does dumping those too solve it?

    To my eyes it looks as though the flyers really have their backs against a wall cap wise and there are really very few teams that can ‘help’ them. Perhaps the oil can wait them out to the point that they get far more for far less.

  • Zarny

    No, I don’t think the Oilers want Lecavalier.

    Statistics aside, the concern I would have are the reports that he just doesn’t work that hard.

    First guy off the ice at practice. Questionable off season training habits. Don’t know the guy so it could just be rumors but usually where there is smoke there is fire for that sort of thing. And given the decline in Lecavalier’s game in his early 30’s there seems to be merit to the rumors.

    That isn’t the type of player you want setting an example for the 18-22 y/o.

  • Jayz

    If we had the goaltending at the start of the year and we switched conf with Philly, we would have been in the playoffs and philly woulda been drafting Leon … So hextall can stick it were the sun don’t shine! And keep his washed up player .. Flyers are so much like the leafs sometimes it’s comical

  • Jayz

    If we had the goaltending at the start of the year and we switched conf with Philly, we would have been in the playoffs and philly woulda been drafting Leon … So hextall can stick it were the sun don’t shine!

    • DoubleJ

      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….

      • DoubleJ

        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

  • pkam

    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.

    • Admiral Ackbar

      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.

  • 15w40

    The only way the Oilers should take on this contract is if they get something also of serious value with it in the way of a 2C or a top 3 defenseman.

    Philly is stuck with this contract otherwise.
    They are going to have to eat at least 40% of the salary to move him.

  • No I in Team.

    Lately; with many posts addressing a trade for a Center, I keep thinking about Tyler Dellow and his praise for the acquisition of Pouliot. I think Lowtide god love him and his tireless efforts, is becoming the second coming of Richard Cloutier totally looking for bad deals just to make a deal. If we need a Center let’s look at the numbers, identify the players with the best fancy stats, like Dellow does, then filter out all those unavailable; too old; too expensive and unwilling to play here, THEN speculate on how the oil could aquire one of those players which remains.

  • John Chambers

    The Flyers have so many bad contracts – LeCavalier, Umberger, Luke Schenn, Grossman, MacDonald, even Steve Mason. None of these contracts expire after the season so they don’t even have the option of waiting it out.

    Fortunately for them they also have two extreme value contracts in B Schenn and Couturier whose combined hit is less than $4.5M, and that’s or this season and next!

    Hextall can probably get himself out of a jam by dealing Luke Schenn for draft picks, and find luck in a long-term injury to LeCavalier or Umberger.

      • pkam

        If I understand the new CBA correctly, you can’t bury a one way contract to the minors anymore. All it does is free up 900K, the rest of the salary remains in your cap. In other words, it will be a 3.7M cap hit even Philly sends Umberger to minors.

  • The Real Scuba Steve

    Why not, sick of building around the draft, we haven’t seen a big name player come here since Pronger and we went to the 7th game of the Stanley Cup final, he could mentor and show leadership our young guns.