Lecavalier agent still optimistic about long-term deal with Lightning

Kent Hughes is watching the changes reshaping the Lightning with interest but not trepidation.

The agent for Tampa Bay superstar Vinny Lecavalier said Saturday that he does not expect the upheaval — Oren Koules' OK Hockey taking ownership and Barry Melrose apparently taking over as coach — to change the team's commitment to sign his client to a long-term deal.

In fact, Hughes said his understanding is the Lightning wants Lecavalier "to finish his career with the organization."

Seems like a no-brainer, but it's the first time anyone has said it publicly.

"I've had no specific conversations," Hughes said, "but the inferences I've drawn is the team's intention is to keep Vinny in the organization. Whether that is with a series of contracts or one contract, it's too early to tell."

General manager Jay Feaster has said the team wants to lock in Lecavalier. It is thought Koules wants the same, preferably before the center becomes an unrestricted free agent after next season.

Lecavalier, 28, the No. 1 overall pick in 1998, has one year left on a four-year, $27.4-million deal that pays $7.167-million in 2008-09.

Last season, he became the first Tampa Bay player to twice reach 40 goals and 90 points. He is rehabbing from surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder.

Teams can sign players to extensions beginning July 1.

"Vinny," Hughes said, "would like to stay in Tampa."

Damian Cristodero can be reached

at cristodero@sptimes.com.

Lecavalier agent still optimistic about long-term deal with Lightning 05/31/08 [Last modified: Monday, June 2, 2008 4:18pm]

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