A longtime Capitals nemesis is set to become an unrestricted free agent July 5 and could fill a potential void in Washington if the price is right.
The Tampa Bay Lightning announced Thursday that they will buy out the final seven years of Vincent Lecavalier’s 11-year, $85 million contract, leaving the 33-year-old free to sign with any of the NHL’s 29 other teams beginning next Friday.
With Mike Ribeiro set to become a free agent himself next week, the Capitals may be in the market for a No.2 center (alternatively they could stay in-house and shift Brooks Laich back to the middle as they did two seasons ago).
Lecavalier, who will receive $32.67 million from the Lightning over the next 14 years as a result of the buyout, is a capable two-way center with a Stanley Cup ring and 1,037 career NHL games under his belt.
The 6-foot-4, 220-pound center had 10 goals and 32 points in 39 games last season but has scored at least 20 goals in each of his last 12 full NHL campaigns.
“Vinny has been a significant reason for many of our past successes, including the 2004 Stanley Cup, and his contributions to the community are immeasurable,” Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman said in a statement. “The Lightning organization is indebted to Vinny; we thank him for all he has done here and we wish him well as he moves forward.”
The Lightning selected Lecavalier first overall in the 1998 NHL Draft and the Montreal native soon became the face of the franchise. Lecavalier was still a teenager in March 2000 when he became, at the time, the youngest captain in NHL history and four years later he and his teammates were Stanley Cup champions.
Lecavalier won the Rocket Richard Trophy in 2007 after leading the NHL with a career-high 52 goals and his 34 career goals against the Capitals are his highest against any opponent.