Prior to the last two years, which saw him battle injury to the tune of almost 40 missed games, you’d be hard-pressed to find a steadier player in the entire National Hockey League than Tampa Bay Lightning forward and captain Vincent Lecavalier. At this point, it feels like ol’ Vinny has been around forever, and it’s easy to forget that he’s still just 32.
Lecavalier is that type of guy that has been around so long that many have almost seem to have forgotten him. He made his debut with the Lightning prior to us ringing in the new millennium, all the way back in 1998. He posted 28 points that year, a mark he would go on to surpass every season in the NHL.
He really is a hard guy to profile. Is he a Hall of Famer? Possibly. But you could also make a case of why he wouldn’t belong. Regardless, one of the things he’ll go down for is being the youngest captain of his day. Before Sidney Crosby, there was Vinny Lecavalier. He was named captain of the Bolts in 2000, when he was only 19 years old.
Despite the fact that Lecavalier was passed over as the face of the franchise by Martin St. Louis and, more recently, Steven Stamkos, he’s had a few years that can only be classified as outstanding. He’s eclipsed the 90-point mark twice, including going over 100 in one of those seasons, when he finished with 108.
That year was, by far Lecavalier’s best. He finished with those 108 points, including 52 goals and 56 assists. Ironically enough, Sidney Crosby was one of only two players that finished with more points than him that season, but he was still one of only three that finished over the century mark.
Of course, that was Lecavalier’s best year statistically. He’d probably tell you that his best year, or at least his favorite, was the 2003-2004 season, right before the lockout. He had 66 points during the regular season that year, with another 16 during the postseason, including an assist on a Ruslan Fedotenko goal that would go on to be the game-winner.
Throughout his career, Lecavalier has, and continues to be, one of the more difficult players to play against. He’s a big guy right in the middle of the ice to take draws against, as well as just get up the ice against. He also brings a physical aspect to the ice that makes him a tough match for opposing forwards.
The past two years haven’t been easy for Lecavalier, having struggled with injury. But he still has well over 800 points for his career, and likely has a lot of ice-time left before we can call his career over. I look forward to him potentially bouncing back, and firmly establishing himself as a future member of the Hall of Fame.
If this list was a few years ago, Lecavalier is probably much higher. However, the fact that injuries, as well as the struggles of the Lightning overall, have taken their toll leaves him at no. 81 on our list of the top 100 players in the NHL.