I will readily admit, I was ecstatic when the Flyers signed Vincent Lecavalier. I even wrote an e-mail to Puck Podcast when Doug and Eddie questioned Holmgren's sanity for the contract. To me the reasoning was clear though. The Flyers seemed lost last year, missing some veteran leadership. They also were absolutely horrendous in the faceoff circle.
Claude Giroux was fantastic at 54.5%, but Schenn (45.5%), Briere (45.9%), Couturier (43.9%), Talbot (47.9%), and Fedotenko (36.0%) were absolutely ghastly. Adding the Captain of the Tampa Bay Lightning, coming off of 404 wins in 782 faceoffs (54.4%) as a 2nd line center seemed like a great idea. The contract was also not too tough really, and for my money Lecavalier was the best free agent forward on the market that year. Of course that meant that Brayden Schenn would probably have to permanently convert to wing, but it would also give us some depth in that position to absorb injuries, and that is also exactly what happened.
Vincent Lecavalier has missed 13 games so far this season. 4 games were missed due to a lower-body injury in mid-October, the other 9 due to a non-displaced fracture in his back in early to mid Decenber. Partially in his absence the rest of the team has found chemistry amongst themselves. First the line of Downie, Couturier and Read were playing lights out, then Raffl, Giroux and Voracek found each other (Raffl broke into the roster because Lecavalier was unavailable during his first injury), and now even the line of Hartnell, Schenn and Simmonds has been firing on all cylinders.
The first and second line seem to be locked in for now, as long as the players can stay healthy. The lines of Giroux and Schenn seem to have too much chemistry to simply plug in Lecavalier there and call it a day. Meanwhile, Vinny is just not the player for a 3rd line assignment the way Read and Couturier are able to withstand (with Downie adding in as well). It seems to me that the Flyers have a 2nd line center, but no spot on the roster, as Vinny has been floating up and down the line-up with no fixed role as it seems outside the 2nd power-play unit.
Lecavalier could also find a decent price on the market. There is a number of teams who need a center and could offer something decent in return (*cough* Toronto *cough*). Maybe there could even be a package for the Habs involving their native son in return for P.K. Subban. The prospect of finishing his career in Montreal might even be attractive to Lecavalier, though I guess such a trade for a Norris winning defenceman is kind of wishful thinking.
The problem is of course this could be a messy divorce. Lecavalier wanted a No Movement Clause in his contract for a reason, and he is not obligated to waive it. He decided on Philadelphia and his wife reportedly loved the city immediately. Asking a player so quickly to allow a trade is not a common occurrence either, though it may be the best for both parties. Frankly, this whole situation with Vinny is giving me a headache.
At this point in time the only reasons for keeping Lecavalier on the team from the perspective of the Flyers is to absorb eventual injuries, and as a power-play and shootout specialist (though his career numbers in the shootout are also not exactly something to write home about). I don't think having a player drift around the line-up while earning 4.5 million a year is a good investment there though.
In short, the roster seems to have developed better and faster than anticipated, and Vincent Lecavalier has lost his place within it. I believe it is time to rip off the band-aid and make arrangements for a trade and fill in some other needs, particularly on defense and perhaps another 3rd line forward that fits the hole that Read's injury opened better.