Lecavalier-to-Predators might not be dead

Posted: July 03, 2014

FOR DAYS, or even weeks, the Nashville Predators have been linked to Vinny Lecavalier in trade rumors.

Flyers general manager Ron Hextall gave permission to Lecavalier's agent, Kent Hughes, to orchestrate his client's departure from Philadelphia. Nashville, hungry for offense, seemed like the perfect landing spot.

Lecavalier, 34, was wooed to the Flyers by Peter Laviolette last summer. He is now at the helm in Nashville. The Predators are thin down the middle in an unmerciful Western Conference. And most importantly, the Predators have plenty of salary-cap space to burn.

That connecting of the dots seemingly went up in smoke yesterday afternoon when the Predators signed free-agent center Olli Jokinen to a $2.5 million deal - which pushed Nashville over the league minimum salary floor.

Turns out, the possibility of Lecavalier to Nashville is not dead.

According to a source, Hextall and Predators GM David Poile revisited the idea of swapping Lecavalier yesterday afternoon. No deal appeared imminent, according to talks, but the Predators remain interested - especially after watching other division opponents bulk up on Tuesday.

"I have talked to a lot of teams," Poile told the Nashville Tennessean yesterday. "I have talked to Philadelphia specifically, but we'll leave it right there."

Hextall has repeatedly declined to comment on the possibility of trading Lecavalier, saying only that it is an "internal matter."

"We'll keep looking at the situation and deal with it internally," Hextall said. "As far as I'm concerned right now, Vinny Lecavalier could be in a Flyer uniform in September."

When asked whether it would be awkward, given the obvious desire to dump his damaging contract, if Lecavalier returned, Hextall shrugged off the notion.

"Not at all," Hextall said. "Vinny's a pro, and we're pros. I think you guys all know we've had discussions, but he's been nothing but a pro."

The Flyers have little leverage in the situation with Nashville, possibly expecting only a late-round draft pick in return. They also will have to eat a big portion of Lecavalier's remaining $14.5 million salary over the next 4 years.

Lecavalier was paid a $2 million signing bonus Tuesday - or one-third of his $6 million salary this season in advance - which also has perked up the interest of suitors.

Under the NHL's collective bargaining agreement, teams may retain up to 50 percent of the salary and salary-cap hit in a transaction. The retained percentage cannot be altered year-to-year and the retained percentage of salary also must match the retained percentage of salary-cap hit.

For instance, Lecavalier is due $14.5 million in salary over the next four seasons, but his cap hit is a total of $18 million. So, if the Flyers were to retain half, they'd have to eat $7.25 million in real dollars (in addition to the $2 million they paid Tuesday) and $2.25 million in dead salary-cap space each year.

It won't be a pretty deal for the Flyers to move him, but it is the price they will have to pay to clear some salary-cap relief from a misguided signing.

Schultz signed

Ron Hextall said Tuesday he was in the market for one more veteran defenseman. He found his man yesterday, adding Nick Schultz to the fold. Schultz and the Flyers agreed to a 1-year deal with $1.25 million, according to a source.

Schultz, 31, split last season between Edmonton and Columbus. He is most known for his time in Minnesota, where he is the Wild's all-time leader in games played with 743. He is coming off a 6-year contract that paid him $21 million.

With the Flyers, Schultz is slotted as the seventh defenseman, a role occupied by Erik Gustafsson last season. Gustafsson bolted for Russia this offseason.

Schultz appeared in only two of the Blue Jackets' six playoff games this season. With 880 games of experience and still some tread on his tires, Schultz is the perfect bargain signing to round out the Flyers' defense corps. He can play big minutes if required - he's averaged 19:17 per game in his career - and he also could fill a void if Hextall saw fit to trade one of the defensemen ahead of him on the depth chart this summer.

McGinn traded

Shortly after announcing Schultz's new deal, the Flyers dealt the rights to forward Tye McGinn to San Jose in exchange for a 2015 third-round pick.

McGinn, 23, is a restricted free agent. He skated in 36 games for the Flyers over the past two seasons, chipping in with seven goals and three assists, but couldn't hold down a spot in Craig Berube's lineup last season.

He was drafted by the Flyers in the fourth round (119th overall) in 2010. His older brother, Jamie, broke into the NHL with the Sharks in 2008. The McGinns also have a younger brother, Brock, who will begin his pro career this fall with Carolina.

The Flyers issued McGinn a qualifying offer on Monday, but it will be up to the Sharks to sign him to a new deal, where he can contribute among a young group of forwards.

Slap shots

The Flyers came to terms with restricted free-agent forward Jason Akeson on a two-way deal. Akeson, 24, is hoping for a shot with the Flyers in training camp after leading the Phantoms in scoring for the last three seasons. He netted three points while skating in all seven Stanley Cup playoff games for the Flyers this spring . . . They also agreed to two-way contracts with forwards Andrew Gordon and Zack Stortini yesterday. Both AHL veterans are expected to report to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms . . . Steve Downie signed a 1-year, $1 million deal in Pittsburgh to play for assistant coach Rick Tocchet again.


On Twitter: @DNFlyers

Blog: ph.ly/FrequentFlyers

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