1. Lightning

Vinny Lecavalier traded from Flyers to Kings, will retire at season's end

 Vinny Lecavalier sits with the Stanley Cup during the team photo at center ice after beating the Calgary Flames in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final at the St. Pete Times Forum on June 7, 2004.
Published Jan. 7, 2016

LOS ANGELES — Vinny Lecavalier is ready for one last run at the Stanley Cup, and the Kings are giving him a chance.

The Kings acquired the former Lightning captain and 2004 Cup winner along with defenseman Luke Schenn from the Flyers on Wednesday in a trade for center Jordan Weal and a third-round draft pick.

Lecavalier, 35, who has two years left on a $22 million deal and has played sparingly the past two seasons in Philadelphia, said he will retire at the end of the season.

But the once-dominant center hopes to go out with a deep postseason run, and the Pacific Division-leading Kings are prime contenders for their third Stanley Cup in five years.

"There's nothing better than to be on a team that's been there," Lecavalier said. "If you look at the standings and where they are right now, they're obviously playing some great hockey. I know the Kings have high expectations for the players, and I love that. … Just to be a part of that, it's very exciting."

The Flyers are retaining 50 percent of Lecavalier's and Schenn's salaries. Kings general manager Lombardi said they couldn't have made the deal without that and Lecavalier's assurance that he plans to retire this summer. Los Angeles needs the salary cap room to sign several key players for next season, including star center Anze Kopitar.

"Vinny, at this stage of his career, it's all about getting one last chance to win it all," Lombardi said. "I think he's hungry, and given his mind-set, I think it's a potentially great fit in his role."

The Lightning drafted Lecavalier No. 1 overall in 1998, and he became the face of the franchise. Though he has never reached the superstar status that was predicted when he was drafted, he was a member of the Lightning's Stanley Cup-winning team in 2003-04, was the league's leading goal scorer with 52 in 2006-07, served two stints as the Lightning's captain and is a four-time All-Star.

On July 12, 2008, Lecavalier agreed to an 11-year, $85 million contract extension with the Lightning that was due to go through 2019–20. But the deal eventually became too much of a financial burden for the Lightning, and in June 2013 it bought out the final seven years for $32.667 million, then an NHL-buyout record.

A few weeks after the buyout, Lecavalier agreed to a five-year, $22.5 million contract with the Flyers. But his time in Philadelphia was never easy.

He signed with the Flyers partly for the chance to play in the system of coach Peter Laviolette, who was abruptly fired three games into Lecavalier's first season. Lecavalier had trouble cracking the lineup under the two coaches that have followed. His production declined, and he had injury issues.

Often a scratch when healthy, Lecavalier has played in just 64 games since the start of last season, just seven games this season and none since Nov. 12. He had 20 goals in 68 games last season. He has one point, an assist, this season.

The Kings don't play in Tampa Bay again this season. The Western Conference team played its only game at Amalie Arena in November.


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