So far in the NHL, several players have been notified or will be notified that they will be bought out by their respective teams as part of the salary cap compliance rules. On Thursday, Vincent Lecavalier was bought out by the Tampa Bay Lightning after 14 years playing for the team who drafted him No. 1 overall in the 1998 NHL Entry Draft.
Now that Lecavalier is a free agent, he is free to sign for any other team bar the Lightning, whom he must wait at least a year before signing with them if that’s what he wanted to do. With this in mind, Lecavalier is a player that the Montreal Canadiens should pursue, and signing him would be a very good decision.
The Canadiens had a 2012 season which exceeded the expectations of those within the organization and of fans as the team finished third in the Eastern Conference, but went out in the first round of the playoffs to the Ottawa Senators. The expectations for a team that is relatively young will be that they do better than last season, i.e. meaning they win at least one playoff series.
As the Canadiens head into an offseason which sees them in a strong position to improve their roster in the short and long term with six picks in the first three rounds of the 2013 Entry Draft, the team is in a position of strength to greatly add to a young roster.
Aside from adding and improving through the draft, the Canadiens have the opportunity to improve through free agency and this is where pursuing Lecavalier would be a very good decision. The Canadiens weakest position is that of center. While the likes of Tomas Plekanec and last year’s first round draft pick Alex Galchenyuk play the center position, both are undersized for today’s NHL. At 6-foot-4, Lecavalier has the necessary size.
Bringing in Lecavalier would immediately improve the depth of the center position as his playmaking skill would mean he becomes a no question first line center, and at worst, a second line center on a line that would have the ability to be a legitimate scoring line threat. After all, Lecavalier has scored almost 400 goals and 500 assists in his career.
Aside from improving the depth, the potential signing of Lecavalier would potentially allow coach Michel Thierren to move Galchenyuk from center over to play as a winger, thus freeing him and allowing him to use his speed more to his advantage. With such a young team, adding a veteran player like Lecavalier, who has won a Stanley Cup, will help to bring along a young team and help them deal with and handle the expectations they will be facing next season.
The Canadiens are a franchise that is fully engrained with Quebec culture and identity. Signing Lecavalier, who is originally from L’Ile-Bizard, Quebec only fortifies and adds to that relationship and the Quebecois identity that is so much a part of the Canadiens. Of course, this is just an addition to what he would bring to the team as a player.