An historic day for the Tampa Bay Lightning organization. The team this morning announced they will be parting ways with Vincent LeCavalier after 14 years. The Lightning decided to buy out the remainder of his contract with the team. LeCavalier's salary cap hit would have cost the Bolts $7.727 million. The team will pay LeCavalier, 33, little more than $32 million after the next 14 years.
Lightning General Manager, Steve Yzerman was on with J.P. Peterson today to discuss the departure of Vinny. Yzerman made it point that this was not because of Vinny's declining play, but a business decision they had to make.
"The system has changed and we had to react to it", Yzerman said. As part of the new CBA agreement, teams must lower their overall salary cap from $70-million to $64.3-million. To help teams achieve this, they can buy out a player's contract that will not count against the cap.
Yzerman said by buying out Vinny's contract gives the team some much needed flexibility under the cap to improve the team. "It was a long term decision not just about this year," the Lightning GM said of the buyout. "It's really about the contract, salary cap and the new CBA." Yzerman was asked if this had anything to do with LeCavalier's play on the ice, Yzerman responded: "We had to take advantage of the new buyout."
Yzerman was also not happy about a recent report where the Lightning were looking to deal LeCavalier to Toronto, then attempt to re-sign him. The new CBA prevents such an manuever from taking place. Yzerman called the media reports "incredibly irresponsible" and that a "phone call was never placed".
So, what's next for the Lightning? Yzerman said it might be difficult to find players through trades or free agency but said if the right player is there, the team will take a move. The NHL draft is this weekend and Lightning hold the 3rd pick.
"We like the position we're in," Yzerman on the draft. "We are excited about the potential of the prospect we might get." Yzerman says there are "6 or 7 players at the top of the draft that are very exciting".
Check out the podcast below to hear more of Lightning GM Steve Yzerman talking with J.P. Peterson about the departure of Vinny LeCavalier.