Vinny Lecavalier's name has popped up in the rumor mill lately. (Photo by Scott Audette/NHLI via Getty Images)
A report from a Montreal radio station last week claiming the Tampa Bay Lightning were shopping Vincent Lecavalier sparked denials from the team, his agent and Lecavalier himself.
The basis for the report was the Lightning’s supposed financial problems forcing the club to try and distance itself from the 11-year, $85 million deal they signed Lecavalier to just last summer.
In addition to the team’s denials, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly claimed the league was satisfied the Bolts’ financial obligations were being fulfilled following the recent restructuring of the deal between the club’s current and outgoing ownership.
That should be enough to kill the Lecavalier rumors, but some in the media and blogosphere insist the club was “exploring” trade options involving their captain, noting his new contract with its no-trade clause doesn’t take effect until July 1.
Naturally, this resurrected speculation that Lecavalier might be dealt to the Montreal Canadiens, who have supposedly coveted him for years.
Even if the Bolts were trying to move Lecavalier, the length and value of his new contract is almost as good as a no-movement clause.
If the Lightning truly wanted to dump salary by moving his contract – which will be worth more than $7 million per season starting in 2009-10 - they’d have to accept a considerable amount of salary in return to make the deal happen.
With more than half of the league’s teams possessing payrolls for next season in excess of $35 million and concerns the salary cap for 2009-10 could flat-line or drop to nearly $50 million, the Lightning would have a difficult time finding suitors for Lecavalier’s contract.
It’s not that teams wouldn’t want him on their rosters, but the fact is few could comfortably afford him during tough economic times.
• Former NHL star Jaromir Jagr stated last week he wouldn’t rule out a possible return to the league in the future.
Jagr, who signed a two-year contract last summer with Omsk of Russia’s Kontinental League, suggested he’d consider signing with either the Rangers or Penguins, two of his former NHL clubs.
Of course it’ll depend on whether or not those two teams are willing to sign him. Jagr claimed he’d be willing to play for the league minimum to rejoin the Penguins out of gratitude to team owner and former teammate Mario Lemieux for all he did to help him develop into a star.
• Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Tomas Kaberle has long been a subject of trade rumors this season and last week he added fuel to the fire by saying he’d be willing to waive his no-trade clause if requested by management.
Leafs GM Brian Burke has stated he won’t ask any of his players currently with no-movement clauses to waive them, but it’s believed if one of them - be it Kaberle or fellow Leafs blueliner Pavel Kubina - wants out he’d be willing to deal them.
It might be in the players’ best interests to request a trade now when the two would have a say in their potential destinations. Should the Leafs miss the playoffs, there’s a clause in their contracts that provides Burke a two-month window to deal them to any NHL team without permission.
The Leafs aren’t about to tank the season to try to land in draft lottery contention for the 2009 first overall pick, but a package centered around either Kaberle or Kubina could be used by Burke to try to land a high pick come this June’s entry draft.
Rumor Roundup appears Mondays only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Foxsports.com and Eishockey Magazine.