The Philadelphia Flyers wasted no time in getting the man who was set to become perhaps the most coveted free agent on the market to agree to a contract with them, as they agreed to a five-year contract with former Tampa Bay Lightning captain Vincent Lecavalier.
Almost immediately, the typical reaction to any move the Flyers make took place, with an outpouring of hilarity over the contract, which will pay Lecavalier $4.5 million a season, more than was initially expected. However, while Paul Holmgren didn’t save himself from his status as one of the worst general managers in the game, this was actually a good move for the Flyers.
First of all, the money involved isn’t terrible. While Lecavalier is on the tail end of his career, he’s still only 33. His game isn’t predicated on speed or anything that will decline terribly with age. He’s going to be a productive player over that time, and $4.5 million for a player of his caliber is extremely manageable, especially considering it’s less than the $5 million he was expected to take home, at minimum.
If that doesn’t ease your mind, consider the fact that the Flyers were going to pay Daniel Briere $6.5 million to hold down the same spot in 2013-14. For $2 million less, the Flyers are getting a better, younger center, who can win draws and provide consistency in the middle. The trade off there is extremely simple to see, and should prove beneficial for the Flyers.
Lecavalier gives the Flyers a potent offensive player on the second line, behind Claude Giroux. He could easily be back up into the 60 point neighborhood next season, and has a track record of success in the playoffs. He’s a massive body in the middle, young players will benefit from playing with him, and he won 54 percent of his draws last season.
Perhaps the biggest knock on the Lecavalier deal is the fact that it doesn’t address the real needs for the Flyers, which remain on the blue line and between the pipes. But signing Lecavalier will allow the Flyers to deal some of that young offensive talent for a top tier defenseman, while allowing them to maintain a high level of offensive play. They could easily move a couple pieces and be set there. Lecavalier will allow them to do that.
The knee-jerk reaction is obviously to point and laugh at Paul Holmgren, something that he has undoubtedly earned in his time as GM of the Flyers. But in this case, give him credit. It’s reasonable years, for reasonable money, and there is a fit here. Even if he wasn’t their biggest need, it’s a good signing by the Flyers, and one that should pan out nicely.