Lecavalier’s ‘difficult contract’ heats up buyout talks in salary cap era

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Vincent Lecavalier is at the center of compliance buyout talks in Tampa Bay.

The Lightning captain is coming off a season in which he had 32 points in 39 regular season games, and has seven years remaining on an $85 million contract, worth an annual cap hit of $7.727 million.

With the salary cap dropping to $64.3 million for next season, each team is allowed two compliance buyouts, as per the new collective bargaining agreement.

“We understand this is a difficult contract in a difficult cap environment,” Lecavalier’s agent Kent Hughes told the Tampa Bay Times of his client’s current deal, “and we recognize (a buyout) is within the club’s right. One way or another there will be clarity in the next seven to nine days.”

Lecavalier, 33, had a career-high 108 points for Tampa Bay back in 2006-07, but has not been able to sustain that production since.

This past year, he scored 10 goals in 39 games.

He is not the only buyout candidate in Tampa Bay. Winger Ryan Malone has also been linked to a potential buyout from the Lightning.

Malone, also 33 years of age, has two years remaining on a seven-year, $31.5 million contract, and is an annual cap hit of $4.5 million.

His time in Tampa Bay has been mired by injury.

Since joining the Lightning for the 2008-09 season, Malone has yet to play all 82 games in a regular season schedule. In 24 games this year, he scored six goals and had just eight points.