With Lecavalier a Flyer, Caps change gears

With Lecavalier a Flyer, Caps change gears
July 3, 2013, 8:15 am
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(Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports)

Adam Oates tried to get Vinny Lecavalier in a Capitals jersey, but in the end, money and length of contract swayed him to go to the division rival Philadelphia Flyers.

Oates spoke with Lecavalier on Saturday at the NHL draft in Newark and told CSNWashington.com that he thought the 33-year-old center would be a “good fit” with the Capitals, but two days later Lecavalier agreed to a five-year, $22.5 million contract with the Flyers.

“We're getting a real quality guy,” one Flyers source told CSNPhilly.com. “We're really impressed with him. He loves our city.”

Lecavalier might have been a perfect fit in Washington, especially with center Mike Ribeiro prepared to leave for similar money and term. Ribeiro, 33, is believed to be seeking a five-year deal in the $22 million range.

“We’re really happy with Mike, we all like Mike, and if it works out, good,” Oates told CSNWashington on Sunday. “But if it doesn’t, then we’re all pros and we have to turn the page. That’s why we talked to Vinny. I just tried to provide information of what we’re about with our team and our players and our city and told him it would be a good fit.”

At least a dozen teams spent time speaking with Lecavalier over the weekend after the Lightning decided to buy out the final seven years and $32.7million of his contract.

Lecavalier has averaged 27 goals a season in his 14-year NHL career, including 10 goals and 32 points in 32 games for the Lightning last season.

Lecavalier is expected to replace Danny Briere as the Flyers’ second-line center behind Claude Giroux. Briere, 35, is being bought out of the final two years of his contract.

He was limited to 34 games last season because of a concussion and suffered through his worst offensive NHL season with six goals, 10 assists and a minus-13 rating.

Briere would be seeking less money than Lecavalier in the open market and could find some interest from the Capitals.

Caps general manager George McPhee said he is willing to entertain the idea of signing a free agent but is unwilling to overspend in what could be an inflated market.