The NHL Entry Draft is only a few days away, and trade talk has been heating up league wide. Many are expecting the draft hosts in Philadelphia to be active on Friday, although new GM Ron Hextall has already swapped Scott Hartnell for R.J. Umburger in a trade this week. (Does anyone else hear Steve Martin saying “Hamburger” in The Pink Panther when you see his name or is it just me?)
The Edmonton Oilers have been mentioned as trade partners many a time when the Flyers enter the conversation. While its been Craig Mactavish‘s apparent fixation on Braydon Coburn that usually gets headlines, the Oilers GM may take on salary in the form of Vincent Lecavalier. MacT has plenty of cap space, and the Oilers need a veteran centre.
Would it work, and should he pull the trigger?
Lecavalier is still a useful player. In Philly, he has been relegated to the fourth line, however, and no self respecting GM pays his fourth line pivot 4.5 million a year. With the newly resigned Brayden Schenn and Sean Couturier ahead of him on the depth chart, Lecavalier’s role is greatly diminished. In Edmonton, he could slot in as 2nd line centre lickety split. In fact, if that isn’t the plan the Oilers should stop considering this right now. With the lack of depth down the middle, the aging center makes sense as the 2nd line center, as he’d be too expensive as a third line center. Boyd Gordon, Mark Arcobello and Anton Lander can slide up and down in the third and fourth slots if they don’t sign a center in free agency.
When Philly signed the former Lightning Cup winner, they felt offering him 3 million less than he was making in Tampa Bay was fair. In hindsight, it is a slight overpay. At the time, the Flyers had just bought out Ilya Bryzgalov, freeing up valuable cap space. They proceeded to eat most of that space back up with Lecavalier. They thought they were getting a star centre, but instead they got a guy on the decline.
If that’s true, should the Oilers bite? What if he just wants to go back to Florida, or to a contending team? Collin Mehalick at broadstreethockey.com had this to say about Lecavalier earlier this season:
Vinny’s been atrocious at even-strength this season, and it seems his only remaining redeeming qualities can be found in the 40-second shifts that the second line power-play unit is on the ice. That’s definitely not enough to keep him in the lineup. The depressing part of this all? Because of management’s usual M.O., the Flyers have their hands tied and have to keep him playing him.
Sounds like a classic albatross contract doesn’t it? What would the Oilers need to give up? He is, after all, 34 years old and would be in the top six for only two more years before age strangles the skill out of him. But maybe that’s what the Oilers need while they find a career centre by draft, trade, free agency or the sudden explosion of Anton Lander.
PHILLY—Lecavalier, 1st Round Pick
Edmonton—Two Fifth Round Picks, 2015 2nd Round Pick
Edmonton will not give up a roster player for Lecavalier. He’s too big of a risk and has a Gagner sized contract. MacT would retain his first round pick while picking up another he can leverage into 2nd or 3rd round picks this year or next. Philly is likely going to ask for a warm body in this trade, so perhaps Taylor Fedun or David Musil sweeten the pot.
Overall, there are few positives in trading for Lecavalier. I don’t see it happening. He could slot in on the second line and might have a little success, but it could be short lived. However, Edmonton may still try for Coburn. We will cover that possibility tomorrow, here at Oil on Whyte.