Photo credit: Amy Irvin (38Photography)
Vinny Lecavalier’s age decline hit hard since he joined the Flyers prior to the 2013 season. At age 35, he’s not going to get younger or better so expecting him to be a top line scorer again is unrealistic.
That said, it’s possible being used in a limited role he might be able to have his weaknesses hidden to the point where he still contributes on the ice.
Via Own the Puck
This HERO chart looks at Lecavalier from his best seasons of 2009-11. He provided first line offense and slightly above replacement level defense while being a top flight scorer. Of course, age and injuries took their toll with Vinny, who never played more than 82% of regular season games in a season since the 10-11 campaign.
As such, Vinny went from being a legitimate option to this:
Via Own the Puck
The good news is his playmaking ability is still there, which is shocking giving he only had 12 assists in 57 games this past season. That said, Vinny is getting primary assists and since secondary assists are more random, there’s a good shot that if Vinny gets ice time, he’ll rack up secondary assists based on luck alone and that will push his assist total back up.
The bad news is, Vinny’s goal scoring and offensive possession abilities have dropped off a cliff. He’s now a fourth line possession forward with second line scoring rates in a broken body with term left on his contract.
Three years and 4.5M against the cap isn’t pleasant but there is something to hope for. If Dave Hakstol can manage Vinny properly in a fourth line role, the scoring rate and hopeful swing in assists will look like Vinny’s had a bit of a resurgence. More importantly, after this season, Lecavalier is owed $3M per season in actual dollars with a 4.5M cap hit. This dead cap space would be a selling point to any team in need of the Cap Floor.
With Lecavalier, the Flyers should be hoping they can find a way to push Lecavalier to a salary floor team for a 7th round pick next summer. And with proper limited usage, there’s a chance they might be able to do just that. It worked for Grossmann this year.