Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
July 1 is still more than three weeks away and with it the start of the NHL's Free Agency season, but already rumors have been flying about possible deals and possible trades.
The biggest rumor making the rounds has been the Tampa Bay Lightning shopping star forward Vincent Lecavalier and his $85 million contract. Suitors have ranged from the Montreal Canadiens to the Los Angeles Kings, both looking for a premier player to improve their clubs while also helping to market their franchise.
No matter what team Vinny ends up with, it should be a boon for his fantasy owners, as his stat line has decreased in each of the past two seasons. In 2006-07, Lecavalier posted a monster year, registering 52 goals and 56 assists for 108 points while playing about even hockey in the plus/minus category. It was his best output to date, and a peek at what this 28-year-old could do.
His numbers fell in 2007-08 as Vinny netted 40 goals to go along with 52 assists for a Lightning squad which won just 31 games. As a team the Lightning managed a mere 221 goals, 380 assists and 601 points that season, or 2.7 goals, 4.6 assists and 7.3 points-per game. Lecavalier's stat line accounted for 15% of his team's offense while only getting any "real" help from Martin St.Louis.
For comparison, consider that the NHL's leading scorer for 2007-08, Alex Ovechkin scored 112 points and accounted for 18% of his team's offense. Evgeni Malkin, No.2 that year in scoring with 106 points, came in at 16% of his team's scoring. So you get the idea.
Lecavalier's numbers fell even more this past season as Tampa Bay went into full rebuild mode (which looked like it was imploding on itself through the first few weeks of the season). Vinny had his worst season since 2003-04, posting just 67 points while playing in only 77 games.
It is too early to tell what the rebuilt Lightning will look like for 2009-10 season, but this much is certain, Vincent Lecavalier on any team which has more talent on it than the recent squads in Tampa Bay is a very dangerous Vincent Lecavalier.
What could make Lecavalier even more dangerous in this upcoming season, speaking on a purely fantasy level here, is how much his stock will fall by draft day this September. With only 67 points last year and a visible decline year-to-year production, some owners will be fearful of spending a pick on him too early. It is tough to tell as of now where he will be drafted, but he should return a very good-to-great value on your draft day investment if dealt.
Paired with a young squad in Los Angeles that is on the rise and he'll be much better, but land in the hockey hotbed of Montreal and Vinny may finally get his due as one of the top players in the NHL, and that is only a good thing for fantasy hockey owners.
|Lecavalier Stats for the last three years|
| Year || Team || Gm || G || A || TP || +/- || PIM || PPP || SOG |
| 2006-07 || TB || 82 || 52 || 56 || 108 || 2 || 44 || 36 || 339 |
| 2007-08 || TB || 81 || 40 || 52 || 92 || -17 || 89 || 29 || 318 |
| 2008-09 || TB || 77 || 29 || 38 || 67 || -9 || 54 || 24 || 291 |