NEWARK, N.J. – Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin, coach Michel Therrien and owner Geoff Molson met with free agent Vincent Lecavalier on Saturday in an attempt to convince the big center to come and play for his hometown team.
Bergevin has a considerable amount of interest in making that happen.
"From 1 to 10?" Bergevin said when asked to describe the Canadiens' interest in Lecavalier. "Pretty high."
Told that sounded like it would be an 8 on a scale of 1 to 10, Bergevin said, "Safe to say. At least."
Bergevin attempted to add size to the Canadiens in the NHL Draft on Sunday, but he conceded that the quickest way to accomplish that goal would be by adding Lecavalier as a free agent.
"He's got size," Bergevin said. "That's intriguing, to say the least."
Lecavalier was announced as a compliance buyout of the final seven years of his contract by the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday, freeing up $7.7 million in salary-cap space. Lecavalier, 33, will be paid more than $30 million over the next 14 years as part of his buyout. He said in a conference call Thursday he would be interested in signing a long-term contract that would get him to retirement.
Asked if the Canadiens would be willing to satisfy that criteria, Bergevin declined comment.
Pierre LeBrun of ESPN.com reported Sunday the Canadiens were one of a dozen teams to contact Lecavalier and that he would be trying to get that down to three or four over the next couple of days.