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Fantasy Spin: Lecavalier fits secondary scoring role

by Pete Jensen /

Less than two weeks after buying out the contract of 35-year-old Danny Briere, the Philadelphia Flyers are putting their stock in another veteran forward.

The club agreed to a multiyear contract Tuesday with 33-year-old center Vincent Lecavalier, who was bought out by the Tampa Bay Lightning on June 27. While the move to acquire Lecavalier is a surprising one considering Philadelphia's lack of a sure-fire starting goaltender and weakness on defense, it's safe to say the former Lightning captain can, when healthy, bring a lot to the table from a fantasy standpoint.

While the offseason is young and more moves could be on the horizon in Philadelphia, fantasy owners can expect Lecavalier to assume a role as the team's second-line center, where he likely will be flanked by young forwards Brayden Schenn and Wayne Simmonds.

The Flyers have agreed to a multiyear deal with former Lightning captain Vincent Lecavalier. If he stays healthy for Philly in 2013-14, fantasy owners can expect him to be productive as a secondary scorer. (Photo: Len Redkoles/NHLI)

The move also provides reinforcement behind the team's franchise center, Claude Giroux, who was relied upon heavily scoring-wise (48 points in 48 games), as well as in the faceoff circle in 2012-13. Giroux took a League-high 1,182 draws (winning 54.5 percent), so adding a well-versed point producer (eight multi-point games in 2012-13) and faceoff man (54.4-percent success rate) in Lecavalier only can help matters.

Questions still loom for the Flyers after bolstering an area of strength when other weaknesses still exist, but the bottom line is that Lecavalier is an upgrade on Briere and was one of the most coveted names on the market. The 5-foot-10 Briere sustained missed time with a wrist injury and a concussion, and played in 34 games. He totaled 16 points and six power-play points despite averaging nearly three minutes of power-play ice time per game. He also posted his worst plus/minus rating (minus-13) since 2007-08.

The 6-foot-4 Lecavalier, meanwhile, had 32 points in 39 games, with nine of those points coming with the man advantage. He sat out nine games in 2012-13 due to a lower-body injury and also missed a total of 35 games over the two prior seasons, but still found his scoring touch during the games he suited up for in Tampa Bay during each of those injury-riddled seasons.

Lecavalier stands as the Lightning's all-time leader in goals (383), power-play goals (112) and game-winning goals (60), so his presence in the lineup will command a level of respect from the team's rising stars. He has been a reliable 60-plus point producer over the course of his career when he stays healthy. Therefore, the production likely will be there -- at even strength and on the power play -- if he stays in the lineup, considering the explosive offensive options around him.

Adding an experienced player with a championship pedigree also can be invaluable to the Flyers, who are trying to keep up their high-scoring ways while shaping the team's young nucleus. Lecavalier's most recent role, on a line behind stars Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis with the Lightning, gives him a track record in terms of contributing in a secondary role.


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