Steve Yzerman says Vincent Lecavalier is part of Lightning's plans

sadvinny.jpgAfter being the subject of trade rumors for a couple years largely thanks to under-performing after signing a gigantic contract, Vincent Lecavalier is feeling a little bit better about life in Tampa Bay. According to Damian Cristodero of the St. Petersburg Times, newly minted GM Steve Yzerman assured Lecavalier that the underachieving center is part of the team’s plans going forward.

It should be noted Lecavalier’s contract includes a no-move clause, which means he must approve any trade.

Even so, Lecavalier said, “After I left the meeting, I was very happy. It’s been tough the past two years wondering what’s going to happen and if the rumors were true or not. Those things were distractions, and now it’s over. I’ve always said I wanted to be in Tampa, and they definitely reassured that to me.”

Now it is up to Lecavalier, 30, to show he again can be an elite player after three consecutive seasons of declining goals after his league-best 52 in 2006-07. The center’s 24 goals last season were his fewest since 2001-02.

It’s not just about production for Yzerman, but long-term planning.

Despite the positive words from Stevie Y, my guess is that the clock is ticking on Lecavalier. You can give the Cup-winning center a little rope because the Lightning have been an absolute mess at times, but when a player accepts an outrageous deal, he must live with the (sometimes unfair) expectations.

It really might be one more season for Vinny. His $7.72 million cap hit is already tough to deal with, but with Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis becoming free agents in July 2011 and other big decisions to follow, there’s only so much time before the team decides to part ways with “the Michael Jordan of hockey.”

You can frame Lecavalier’s career as a case of bad luck or a scenario in which he’s been given far too many chances and way too much money despite only coming through on occasion. (The truth is usually somewhere in between.) The trade rumors might die down for a bit, but if he doesn’t start producing, expect to hear about Montreal and other suitors all over again.

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    Vigneault: ‘After three losses in a row, I think we’ve got everybody’s attention’

    Alain Vigneault
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    Alain Vigneault has maintained for much of the season that the New York Rangers needed to play better.

    The head coach said it a week ago, after the Blueshirts had beaten the Predators, 3-0, despite getting outshot, 31-19.

    He’d said it a couple of weeks before that, after they’d beaten the Hurricanes in very similar fashion. (Final score: 3-0. Shots: 33-23 for Carolina.)

    But as long as the Rangers kept winning, it was tough, according to Vigneault, to get the message across.

    “Sometimes, the results might be going your way, so when you’re pointing out certain things, it might be a little bit more challenging for them to understand because the results are so positive,” Vigneault said, per the New York Post.

    “But after three losses in a row, I think we’ve got everybody’s attention.”

    Derek Stepan‘s injury — he’ll miss 4-6 weeks with broken ribs — has no doubt captured their attention as well. (Oscar Lindberg will center Chris Kreider and Jesper Fast tonight at home to Carolina.)

    The Rangers also play Wednesday, in Brooklyn against the Islanders (on NBCSN).

    Benn, Holtby and Galchenyuk are NHL’s three stars of the week

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    Stars winger Jamie Benn, Capitals goalie Braden Holtby and Canadiens center Alex Galchenyuk have been named the NHL’s three stars for the past week.


    Benn shared the League lead in goals (4) and points (6) as the Stars (19-5-0, 38 points) won two of three games to continue their best start to a season in the franchise’s 48-year history.

    Holtby posted a 4-0-0 record with a 1.75 goals-against average, .945 save percentage and one shutout to backstop the Capitals (17-5-1, 35 points) to the top of the Metropolitan Division standings.

    Galchenyuk tied for first in the NHL with four goals and added one assist to help the Canadiens (18-4-3, 39 points) earn five of a possible six points and reclaim first place in the League standings.

    As much as the injuries to Carey Price and Brendan Gallagher have been frustrating for the Canadiens, those are short-term issues that should be forgotten soon enough. Galchenyuk’s play, in contrast, is reason for long-term optimism. The 21-year-old is trending towards becoming the elite No. 1 center the Habs have needed so badly. He’s not there yet, but when’s all said and done, he could turn out to be the best forward (or player, period) taken in the 2012 draft.

    Stepan to miss 4-6 weeks with broken ribs


    Derek Stepan is out 4-6 weeks with broken ribs, the New York Rangers announced today.

    Stepan was hurt Friday on a controversial hit by Boston’s Matt Beleskey. The Bruins’ forward did not receive any supplemental discipline for the check, despite admitting it was “maybe…a little bit late.”

    At any rate it’s a big loss for the Rangers, who suddenly find themselves on a three-game losing streak. Considering the timeline, New York could be without one of its top centers for 12-18 games, give or take.

    The Rangers host Carolina tonight.

    Related: Yep, Alain Vigneault went there — ‘I remember Aaron Rome in this building’

    Price to miss minimum six weeks, so no Winter Classic for him

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    Carey Price will miss a minimum of six weeks with a lower-body injury, the Montreal Canadiens announced today.

    That means Price will miss the Winter Classic against the Bruins on New Year’s Day. The 28-year-old goalie has only appeared in 12 games this season.

    On the bright side, the reigning Hart Trophy winner will not require surgery. And considering the Habs have already built up a 13-point playoff cushion in the standings, well, if something like this were going to happen during the season, now is as good a time as any.

    Related: The latest on Price’s injury