When he was a fresh faced teenager Philadelphia Flyers center Vincent Lecavalier was compared to Montreal Candiens legend Jean Beliveau for his never before seen mix of size and skill. It also helped that they both wore No. 4 (usually a defenseman’s number) and were the preeminent Francophone superstars of their time. After being drafted No.1 overall by the Tampa Bay Lightning, it looked those comparisons could be in line as he won a Stanley Cup in 2004 and led the NHL in goals in 2007.
While Lecavalier was establishing himself as a bona fide star in Tampa, several efforts were made by the Canadiens to bring him “home” via trade with the Lightning. The most notable came in 2009 when the Lightning turned down a trade offer that included then up-and-comers P.K. Subban, Carey Price and Max Pacioretty. Tampa Bay turning down that trade for a fading Lecavalier turned out to be a blessing in disguise for the Habs as all three players are now among the best at their respective positions in the league.
After being bought out by the Lightning and taking his talents to Philadelphia last summer, Lecavalier is again on the trading block. With Thomas Vanek’s inevitable departure the Canadiens could definitely use a top line forward like Lecavalier. Could there be a fit between the two sides?
The Habs have not had a French-Canadian star since Patrick Roy, and while Lecavalier was at one time an elite forward in the NHL those days have since passed. After spending the bulk of his career in a quiet setting like Tampa, how would Lecavalier respond to being in a hockey obsessed market that carries added pressure due his linguistic background?
Also adding a 34-year-old forward who has four years and over $15 million left on his deal is not the best business decision. Even though the salary cap is going up, it’s still a substantial investment for a player who is clearly in decline.
While it may have been a proverbial “match made in heaven” a few years ago, there is no need for the Canadiens to pursue a high priced commodity like Lecavalier. In a cap driven league with other offseason issues for Montreal (namely re-signing P.K. Subban), pursuing a trade for Lecavalier shouldn’t take priority.