During the 2013 NHL offseason, the Philadelphia Flyers made three big name signings in Ray Emery, Vincent Lecavalier and Mark Streit, but none were bigger than Lecavalier.
The former Tampa Bay Lightning captain was signed to 4.5M/year through the 2017-18 season, according to capgeek.com.
The signing was welcomed by fans, but a bit confusing seeing as the Lecavalier’s position was the deepest spot on the Flyers’ roster. He would join Philadelphia’s center core of Claude Giroux, Brayden Schenn and Sean Couturier.
Lecavalier was expected to be an exceptional depth forward playing on the second or third line, but the season hasn’t gone as planned for him.
Through 65 games played, he has tallied 19 goals, 16 assists and a +/- of -16. With the exception of the +/-, those numbers aren’t terrible. However, they are a result of strong play as of late.
For someone making as much as he does, fans and management expect a bit more out of the crafty veteran.
Lecavalier started of the season playing fairly well. In the first 22 games he notched 14 points while playing alongside Wayne Simmonds and Brayden Schenn on the second line, as well as the second powerplay unit.
He injured his back late in November, and it caused him to miss nearly a month of action. When he returned his play wasn’t the same, and it was obvious.
Head coach Craig Berube recently demoted him to the fourth line to play with any combination of Adam Hall, Michael Raffl, Zac Rinaldo and Jay Rosehill.
Since his demotion, something changed. In the last five games, Lecavalier has netted three goals and assisted on another. Despite losing four of the last five, he was an important role player for the Flyers bottom lines.
Lecavalier is providing important leadership for some younger forwards on the team, like Raffl and Rinaldo. Berube may have seen his down play as an opportunity to move him down and help other players improve their game a bit.
However, the move has seemed to provide additional benefits. Lecavalier is finding his form again and improving the play of those around him. However, Rinaldo was moved up to the third line Sunday against the Buffalo Sabres and tallied his second goal this season.
Despite the fact that Buffalo is the worst team in the NHL right now, seeing strong pressure put on the goaltender by the bottom lines is a positive sign moving towards the playoffs.
Fans are expecting Philadelphia to make the postseason, and seeing Lecavalier gain some momentum is a fantastic sign.
Lecavalier saw his fair share of the playoffs during his time with Tampa Bay. His track record also shows that he plays well during the postseason.
According to hockey-reference.com, in 63 postseason games, Lecavalier has amassed 52 points (24 goals, 28 assists). That is just under a point per contest.
With just a few games remaining before the Stanley Cup playoffs, Lecavalier is getting hot at the right time.
If the Flyers don’t lose their remaining games and head into the round one, they could be very dangerous, especially with Lecavalier playing well on the bottom line.
He could help Philadelphia provide a constant stream of pressure on the fore-check that would give opposing defenses and goalies nightmares.
HartnellDown Tracker: Scott currently sits at 254 HartnellDowns for the season.