Vincent Lecavalier never seemed to mesh with former Philadelphia Flyers coach Craig Berube, but will things work out any better for him under new bench boss Dave Hakstol?
Flyers GM Ron Hextall’s preference might be to never find out, but getting another team to take the final three seasons of his five-year, $22.5 million deal can’t be an easy task and retirement isn’t an option Lecavalier is willing to entertain. So while the possibility of a move certainly exists, both sides might ultimately have to make do with each other.
For Philadelphia, that means hoping Lecavalier will bounce back after scoring just eight goals and 20 points last season. For the 35-year-old forward, that means hoping he’ll get more ice time after being limited to an average of 12:38 minutes per game and even spending some time as a healthy scratch.
“I’m still in shape,” Lecavalier said, per NHL.com. “I really just want to get my chance. I am confident in my abilities and I move on.
“I kept a good attitude. You do not want to be a cancer in the room. You want to stay a good teammate, and that’s what I tried to do. A good bunch of guys, it makes things easier. It is the past. I want to be in shape in September and playing hockey, that’s it.”
The coaching change should provide him with a fresh start, but hurdles remain. He’s well past his prime now and has been plagued by injuries for years. The Flyers still have a lot of alternatives up the middle too, which might lead to Hakstol pushing Lecavalier to the right wing as Berube did.
Hakstol wants to withhold judgment until he can see his players’ training camp performances, per CSN Philly, so if nothing else it sounds like Lecavalier will get that chance he’s after.
PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.
Chicago lost more than Patrick Sharp’s offensive contributions when they dealt him. (Chicago Tribune)
T.J. Oshie ran into one of the two players he was traded for, Troy Brouwer, while touring Kettler Capitals Iceplex. (Washington Post)
Maple Leafs assistant general manager Kyle Dubas feels prospect Frederik Gauthier is “an interesting paradox.” (Toronto Star)
While some might have predicted Matt Beleskey would end up with a significantly bigger contract than the five-year, $19 million deal he signed, Beleskey wasn’t one of them. (Boston Herald)
When Noah Hanifin woke up on Saturday, he wasn’t sure that he would be signing with the Carolina Hurricanes that day, but ultimately he felt ready to go pro after spending a season with Boston College. (The News & Observer)
It looks like Mike Gillis, the former president and general manager of the Vancouver Canucks, will be teaching Sports Law at the University of Victoria. (UVIC)
Finally, we already mentioned it on Saturday, but if you haven’t read Sheldon Souray’s retirement letter then it really is worth it. There’s strong language in it though, so please keep that in mind. (The Players’ Tribune)
The unrestricted free agent market has slowed to a crawl, but there are still some noteworthy players left for the taking and they might end up with buyer-friendly contracts at this point.
Here’s a sampling of the most interesting names:
Cody Franson — His return to Nashville didn’t go as scripted, but he’s still a 27-year-old (28 in August) defenseman that recorded 33 and 36 points in each of his last two seasons. Agent Gerry Johannson felt back in June that Jeff Petry’s six-year, $33 million extension was in the right “ballpark” for Franson, but at this point it would be interesting to see if he would settle for a one-year contract in the hope of finding more favorable conditions with his next deal.
Alex Semin — He had just six goals and 19 points in 57 contests last season and Hurricanes GM Ron Francis cited his compete level as a reason for buying him out. Semin has had a wildly inconsistent career, but when he’s at his best, he’s a top-tier goal scorer. The fact that he’s reportedly interested in a one-year deal suggests that the risks involved in signing him will be managed. Under those conditions, he at least has the potential to provide any team with a significant boost.
Christian Ehrhoff — Concussion problems limited Ehrhoff to just 49 games with the Pittsburgh Penguins last season and that’s likely part of the reason he’s still on the open market. However, he has breached the 30-point mark six times and most recently in 2013-14. So perhaps his next one-year deal will go better than his last.
Marek Zidlicky — He’ll celebrate his 39th birthday in February, but he can still be a big contributor with the man advantage. In fact last season he was tied for 12th place among defensemen with 20 power-play points (34 overall).
Brad Boyes — He had a decent 14 goals and 38 points in 78 contests in 2014-15 with a Panthers team that didn’t do much offensively, but was nevertheless bought out. Although he’s unlikely to ever rise to the level he was at in 2007-2008 when he scored 43 goals, he’s still a decent secondary scorer and has traditionally be very effective in shootouts.
While Johnny Oduya is out there too, he’s expected to make his decision within the week. The Buffalo Sabres and Chicago Blackhawks are among his potential destinations.
With the Chicago Blackhawks still near the cap after trading Brandon Saad and Patrick Sharp, unrestricted free agent Johnny Oduya might ultimately have a new home next season.
Sabres GM Tim Murray has been trying to lure over the 33-year-old defenseman and hasn’t given up as we near the third week of the UFA period.
“He hasn’t signed anywhere yet, so I haven’t moved on,” Murray told the Buffalo News.
He added that he is also looking at other free agents and trade opportunities.
For the record, Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman hasn’t ruled out re-signing Oduya. The defenseman, who has been waiting for the team to clear cap space for him, plans to make his decision within the next week, but Chicago would be allowed to go over the ceiling to sign him as long as it finds a way to get back under it in the fall.
If Buffalo is able sign him though, it would provide the team with a veteran leader that has won the Stanley Cup twice and can log around 20 minutes per game.
When the Chicago Blackhawks acquired the 20-year-old Marko Dano he found himself suddenly united with perhaps his ideal mentor.
Dano has plenty of connections to Marian Hossa, from the city they live in (Trencin, Slovakia), to the fact that the elder forward has played internationally with Dano’s father, to their similar style of play.
“But he’s at a different level,” Dano told CSN Chicago. “So I’m trying to catch him with that.”
Hossa should be willing to help him there. He reached out to Dano after the trade and they plan to meet for lunch in the near future.
“He’s a great player,” Dano said. “He’s played so many years here, so there are a lot of things I can learn from him.”
Chicago got Dano from Columbus as part of the Brandon Saad trade. He was taken with the 27th overall pick in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft and had 21 points in 35 contests as a rookie in 2014-15.
He’s participating in prospect camp and will have to earn his spot with Chicago. However, he’s a clear candidate to secure a third line role next season and down the road his duties might expand substantially.
Related: Dano ‘an exciting player’ for Blackhawks