When the Philadelphia Flyers signed Vincent Lecavalier to a 5 year, 22.5 million deal in the offseason, some praise and much skepticism was met by fans and analysts alike. Everything from "He's a perfect 2nd line center" "Still has some gas left in the tank" to "He's too injury prone" "Too slow" "Horrible in the defensive zone" was said.
Turns out both sides were right.
Through the first month of the season, Vinny was the Flyers' best offensive forward by a mile. Creating chances and putting pucks in the net (Hat trick included) but he also missed 4 games in that span due to injury. He seemed re-energized with his new team and comfortable as the team's 2nd line Center.
Then the injury bug came back. A non displaced fracture in his lower back was supposed to sideline him for 3-4 weeks. Vinny came back after two and a half weeks. Doctors deemed that He couldn't do more damage to the injury and could play if he could take the pain.
When he came back, things changed for the Flyers. Key forwards like Matt Read, Michael Raffl and Steve Downie all suffered injuries while a 2nd line pairing of Scott Hartnell, Brayden Schenn and Wayne Simmonds found some nice chemistry. Raffl seemed to energize the Giroux line, came back fairly quickly and was put back on the top line instantly.
This meant Lecavalier had to play on the defensive minded 3rd line alongside Couturier and Downie/Rinaldo. It's well known that Couturier takes most of his faceoffs in the defensive zone and takes a lot of minutes on the Penalty Kill. Vinny is not a defensive specialist, you can go as far as to call him a defensive liability even.
He does not belong in that role. At all. A career +/- of -129 says a lot.
To make matters worse, he has been put awkwardly on the Left Wing. Vinny is a natural Center. He's spent a majority of his career there but there's another problem: He's a left handed shot. Typically, left handed shots play on the Right Wing. Lecavalier has a rocket of a slap shot, posting a 101.9 MPH shot at the 2008 skills competition.
Taking Slap shots on the off wing is hard.
Sure, his injury and age probably won't let him reach those numbers now but He probably still shoots harder than 95% of the team.
So basically, we have an Offensive minded, natural Center with a very good left handed shot who's playing on a Defensive minded Checking line on the Left Wing which basically nullifies his chances of getting in some One Timers and better angles for Slap Shots.
Vinny should be playing Right Wing. Plain and simple. Sure he'll still be stuck on a defensive 3rd line but at least He'll have a chance to wire some pucks here and there. That's what Vinny Lecavalier does.
In the Odd offensive chance the 3rd line gets during a game, who would you want waiting for a one timer....Steve Downie or Vincent Lecavalier?
I know who I'm picking.