Agent: Lecavalier chose Flyers over dozen suitors

Vincent Lecavalier, here with Tampa Bay in 2007, is not the force he once was but is a more complete player, said Lightning TV analyst Bobby Taylor.
Vincent Lecavalier, here with Tampa Bay in 2007, is not the force he once was but is a more complete player, said Lightning TV analyst Bobby Taylor. (DOUG BENC / Getty Images)
Posted: July 05, 2013

The agent for newly acquired Flyers free-agent center Vincent Lecavalier said the appeal of the franchise had much to do with the player's decision to move to Philadelphia.

Lecavalier, after being let go through a compliance buyout by the Tampa Bay Lightning, agreed to terms of a five-year, $22.5 million contract with the Flyers on Tuesday. He can't technically sign the contract until Friday.

"We could have had a much more significant contract if he made the decision solely on money," agent Kent Hughes said Wednesday in a phone interview. "But we didn't solicit offers from everyone. We kind of narrowed it down."

Hughes said he didn't know the exact number but estimated that he met with more than a dozen teams concerning Lecavalier, who was paid $32 million in his buyout.

"What tipped it for Vinny was the chance to play for a hockey market with passionate fans," Hughes said. "He is really impressed with the rich tradition of the Flyers."

And some observers are impressed with what Lecavalier could do for the Flyers. One of them is Bobby Taylor, the former Flyers goaltender and broadcaster. Taylor joined the Tampa Bay Lightning in their second season during the fall of 1993 as an announcer, so he has seen Lecavalier's entire career.

While Taylor acknowledged that Lecavalier isn't the same player who led the Lightning to the Stanley Cup championship in 2004, he said the 33-year-old center has plenty left.

"He is getting a little older, and sometimes these nagging injuries he didn't have when he was younger come up, like every player," Taylor said Wednesday in a phone interview. "He has really become a force on faceoffs and really a much more complete player who is more responsible defensively in his own end, more than in his early days."

Last season, Lecavalier had 10 goals and 22 assists in 39 games for Tampa Bay. He also had a 54.4 percent success rate on faceoffs, just behind the 54.5 percent rate of Flyers captain Claude Giroux.

The 6-foot-4, 208-pound Lecavalier will give the Flyers a physical presence, according to Taylor.

"He is not as prolific a scorer as before, but he is still devastating on the power play, a big wide body who protects the puck," Taylor said. "He plays a physical game and is hard to knock off the puck."

While Taylor said Lecavalier has plenty left as a player, he said the center is off the charts as a person. Lecavalier was known for his charitable efforts while a member of the Lightning.

"He never big-times anybody," Taylor said. "He is a little on the shy side and not an outgoing extrovert, but he is one of the most genuine people you will ever meet and he is just a great citizen."

With the addition of Lecavalier, the Flyers said they feel good about their offseason transactions. Earlier, they traded for the rights to 35-year-old New York Islanders defenseman Mark Streit and then agreed to a four-year, $21 million deal.

"The defenseman was on the top of the list, and Vinny kind of came out of nowhere," said a Flyers official who requested anonymity since free-agent movement does not become official until Friday. "We weren't betting on it."

The official added, "We expect Vinny to come in and fit in our power play and be our No. 2 center, and that is a good fit for him at this point of his career."

Offers made. The Flyers have issued qualifying offers to four restricted free agents - defensemen Erik Gustafsson, Oliver Lauridsen, and Brandon Manning, and forward Eric Wellwood. That means they will retain their negotiating rights.

The Flyers didn't make qualifying offers to defenseman Blake Kessel and forward Mitch Wahl, making them unrestricted free agents.

According to capgeek.com, these were the qualifying offers the Flyers had to make to the following players: Gustafsson, $850,000; Lauridsen, $643,500; Manning, $715,000; and Wellwood, $594,000.

Camp set. The Flyers have announced a developmental camp for 31 players that will begin Monday at the Skate Zone in Voorhees. Included in the camp are 2012 first-round pick Scott Laughton, a center, and this year's first-round choice, defenseman Samuel Morin.

The camp consists of on-ice sessions from 8:30 to 10 a.m. and 2 to 2:30 p.m. Monday and Tuesday, and from 10 to 11:30 a.m. and 2 to 2:30 p.m. next Thursday at the Skate Zone. All on-ice sessions are free and open to the public.

On Wednesday, the camp moves to Stone Harbor, N.J., for the Flyers' annual "Trial on the Isle," a day of conditioning and team activities.


 Contact Marc Narducci at mnarducci@phillynews.com. Follow on twitter @sjnard.

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