When the Tampa Bay Lighnting decided to part ways with one time face of the franchise Vinnie Lecavalier there were plenty of teams ready chat with him. He will be making stops in Washington, Philadelphia, Montreal, Dallas, St. Louis, Detroit, Calgary, Toronto, Boston and Anaheim over the next week to ten days.
The Washington Capitals have said openly that they are giving strong consideration to adding Lecavalier to their roster if the two sides can find common ground. Head coach Adam Oates met with the veteran center on Saturday to explain why Washington would be a good destination for him.
Oates told the media in Washington:
“He fits into our puzzle,” said Oates, who worked with Lecavalier during the 2009-10 season as an assistant coach in Tampa Bay. “I think that’s an important thing and I said that to him. ‘You’re in a unique situation. You get to choose where you want to go make sure you choose a puzzle that fits. Vinny’s a guy that, one of the things I really respected about him is, he wanted to play against the best players every night,” Oates. “He wanted the responsibility of playing against their best D, every night, handling that pressure, game in and game out. I think he’s a guy that, the day happens when we go four rounds, he’s a guy that will be standing there at the end of four rounds. I think that’s why a lot of teams are after him.”
Media reports that Lecavalier wants a four or five year $5 million dollar deal. At 33 years of age that would likely be his final contract. At this point Oates may have to sell his boss Capitals General Manager George McPhee that Lecavalier is worthy of a long term deal. It is not as much a money issue but a time deal since the Caps are deep in young centers waiting to move up to the big team led by Tom Wilson.
Oates made his case through the media when giving his parting words about Lecavalier;
“He’s been Mr. Tampa Bay Lightning. We talked a little bit about that yesterday[Saturday] because how was he feeling about that? It’s an emotional time when you get traded, bought out, have to move the first time, especially when you’ve done what he’s done for that franchise. He’s got to turn the page and be professional and he is a very classy guy, professional, a good hockey player. And he’d fit in great with us.”
The Capitals are one of the NHL’s most successful franchises having won five out of the last six Southern Division titles. Meanwhile, they have played before a team record five consecutive years of sell out crowds and they have a three time Hart Throphy winner in Alex Ovechkin as their leader.
The one area that has caused the Caps their biggest problem is their lack of going deep into the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Ironically, that lack of going deep into the playoffs might help make Oates argument for Washington to add Lecavalier, someone known for his strong playoff experience.
We will see how the whole Lecavalier and the Caps deal plays out and something is likely to be known in about a month or so. Washington like the rest of the NHL is getting ready realignment and things will be much tougher than the old Southeast Division.
The Capitals are in a new division with some old foes from days gone by former I-95 foes the New Jersey Devils, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Philadelphia Flyers. Added to the mix is long time rivals the Pittsburgh Penguins along with former Southeast division foes the Carolina Hurricanes and rounding out the new group will be the Columbus Blue Jackets.