The Tampa Bay Lightning have announced they will buy out the remainder of Vincent Lecavalier’s contract, making him an unrestricted free agent on July 5.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This isn’t a move the Lightning front office wants to make, but they really had no choice. Lecavalier’s contract (seven years remaining at a cap hit of over $7.727 million per season) was simply too restrictive for a club which had less than $3 million in available cap space and in dire need of improvement throughout the roster.
Under the rules of compliance buyout, it’ll cost two-third the remaining value over twice the remaining term, but it won’t count against the Bolts salary cap. Lecavalier also cannot re-sign with the Lighting for one full year from the date of his buyout.
It’s possible he could sign a one-year deal with another team and then return to Tampa Bay next summer, but I daresay interested teams will want a longer commitment from Lecavalier. Given his age, injury history and declining production, Lecavalier won’t get top dollar anymore, but he will attract considerable interest from teams seeking a second line center. Already, there’s early speculation linking him to the Montreal Canadiens and Detroit Red Wings.