The status of Vincent Lecavalier has hung over the Philadelphia Flyers' roster since the start of the year. Despite $4.5 million cap hit, the former superstar has played in only seven of Philadelphia's 38 games thus far and appears unlikely to re-enter the lineup this season.
It's clear that the Flyers no longer believe Lecavalier can help their team win. But the 35-year old forward still believes that he can play a role on an NHL team, and according to Pierre LeBrun of ESPN.com, he may be willing to take drastic measures to prove it.
LeBrun interviewed the Flyers' forward on Tuesday, and the majority of his quotes were fairly standard, boilerplate information.
"It’s obviously been tough," Lecavalier said. "But at the same time, I’m not going to the rink pissed off every day. I mean, I’m not playing, there’s nothing else you need to say. The only thing I can control is just how hard I practice and how ready I am for when either I come back into the lineup or if something happens with a trade or something like that."
Lecavalier also unsurprisingly expressed his desire for a change of scenery.
"I think both parties are looking at the same thing; hopefully there’s something here in the near future that can be done. I’m obviously not in those conversations, but if the phone rings, there’s definitely interest in going somewhere because I want to play hockey. I still love it, I still want to do it, I want to have a role on a team, whatever role that is."
The truly interesting news came directly from LeBrun, who provided a theory that to this point had been limited to wishful thinking from the blogosphere.
My sense is Lecavalier’s agent, Kent Hughes, has made it clear to teams that if they took a chance on his client, an effort would be made to ensure those final two years on the deal wouldn't hang over the club in one form or another.
This isn’t about money for Lecavalier; it’s about wanting to prove he’s still got some hockey left in him, even if in some smaller role.
Pierre LeBrun is a pro - he wouldn't attach his name to an article with this type of speculation unless he had a legitimate reason to do so. Obviously, Lecavalier or his agent was not directly quoted, but it seems possible that this information originated from members of the Lecavalier camp.
Lecavalier's potential willingness to void the final two years of his deal in order to make himself more attractive to potential buyers at the deadline could help the Flyers to finally move his salary. By late February, his $4.5 million cap hit becomes far less daunting, and a contender looking for some scoring help in the bottom-six and power play could be convinced that Vinny is worth a late round pick - so long as they are not locked into his contract for another two years.
But the most promising piece of information for Flyers fans came later in the article, when LeBrun discusses Lecavalier's options if a trade does not occur at the deadline.
It’s why I think if a normal trade route doesn’t materialize by the desired goal of the Feb. 29 trade deadline, Lecavalier and Hughes would even consider -- like Alexander Semin did earlier this season -- terminating his contract if it improved chances of catching on with another team on a low-salary deal via free agency.
This scenario has likely always been the Flyers' dream ever since the organization decided that Lecavalier was not part of their vision for the team moving forward. If Lecavalier is willing to forgo the final two seasons of his contract - worth over $6.0 million dollars in salary - that would be a godsend for the cap-strapped Flyers.
If the status quo holds, the Flyers would be forced to either keep Lecavalier on their books for the next two and a half seasons or buy him out this offseason or next. Neither are appealing scenarios. Due to his no-movement clause, Lecavalier cannot be sent down to the AHL, preventing Philadelphia from gaining an extra roster spot or the $950,000 of cap relief that comes with a demotion. And a buyout would result in residual cap penalties in later seasons, even after Lecavalier's contract would have naturally expired.
A mutual termination would be the best-case scenario for the Flyers, but it would involve Lecavalier voluntarily giving up millions of dollars in guaranteed money. Still, Lecavalier's desire to play NHL hockey could outweigh the financial element of the situation. LeBrun's report is the most believable hint that such a scenario could actually occur.