After buying out Tomas Kaberle, the Montreal Canadiens have $9,024,167 in cap space for this upcoming season, with only marginal players like Ryan White, Yannick Weber, and maybe one more 4th liner to sign. This means that at the very least, the Canadiens have about $6M to play around with this summer to sign a replacement for Michael Ryder.
The best replacement for Ryder may be long sought-after Montreal native Vincent Lecavalier. After being bought out by the Tampa Bay Lightning this morning, Lecavalier is due $32.667M over the next 14 years, so it's highly unlikely that chasing money will be his main goal, perhaps the call of home will be what appeals to him most?
And it gets even more interesting with this little tidbit:
Interesting point re: Lecavalier from an NHL agent: Don't be surprised to see him sign a 1-year deal, then return to Tampa Bay next summer.— Adam Proteau (@Proteautype) June 27, 2013
And TVA Sports has already stirred the pot:
But is Lecavalier a fit? He's 33 and not the player he once was, and the Canadiens already have three centers capable of top 9 minutes.
However, Desharnais has been moved to the wing before, and that very likely could be his future in the NHL. Lecavalier has played wing too, on the powerplay with Stamkos and in empty net situations, but considering Lecavalier's size and skill advantage, I'm guessing it would be Desharnais on the wing.
With expiring contracts for P.K. Subban and Lars Eller next summer becoming possible big paydays, a one-year contract is likely exactly what Marc Bergevin is looking for. It would even leave cap space to upgrade another area should Bergevin desire to, especially if Alexei Emelin is going to miss significant time to start the year.
But is Lecavalier an upgrade? People have been bashing him for years for not living up to his potential, and he's been massively outplayed by Steven Stamkos while Martin St. Louis keeps on producing. Well, the last 3 seasons Lecavalier has produced at a 66 point pace per 82 games, which is .804 points per game, higher than any center on the Habs. He can't take Plekanec's tough minutes and he isn't very good defensively, but that's not what he'll be asked to do.
Lecavalier also hasn't become a black hole or anything, as he's put up a positive relative Corsi the past two seasons while playing secondary tough minutes similar to what Eller plays, without being sheltered zonally. In Montreal, he could be sheltered in Desharnais-style minutes, and perhaps little DD on his wing would remind him of better times to boot.
Lecavalier is almost certainly the second most potent offensive punch on the market right now, with only Patrik Elias providing competition, and likely also one of the cheapest.
And as if that wasn't enough, imagine the party RDS would throw? They've been hoping and praying for this for over a decade. There's something to be said for being able to please everyone, and I think a one year deal for Lecavalier on the cheap would really do that. There's really no downside here.