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Lightning strikes twice

The Hockey News

The Hockey News

Don’t look now, but the Vincent Lecavalier rumor mill could start churning again.

ESPN.com’s Pierre LeBrun suggested as much in a recent article noting the struggles of the Lightning captain, who after 14 games had only two goals, although he had 12 assists in that time.

Lecavalier’s performance incurred the wrath of coach Rick Tocchet, who singled out the big center for criticism and reduced his ice time, even playing him on the fourth line in a recent game.

LeBrun feels if the team isn’t doing well by Christmas there’s a chance Lecavalier trade talks could begin again despite his huge salary and no-movement clause.

LeBrun’s assessment that Lecavalier’s contract doesn’t make him untradeable is problematic, however. It’s not only the $7.7 million per season cap hit and the movement clause that makes him almost impossible to move, but also the length of the deal.

Lecavalier’s current contract expires at the end of 2019-20, which, despite his current standing as one of the league’s elite centers, is bound to kill interest.

Another issue is his recent injury history. The 29-year-old Lecavalier had shoulder surgery following the 2007-08 campaign, which clearly affected his performance last season as he netted only 67 points, down significantly from his 92 points of the season prior.

He was also plagued by a nagging wrist injury that required surgery this past spring, which might also be a factor in his scoring struggles this season.

• The St. Petersburg Times, meanwhile, reported Edmonton Oilers director of hockey operations Kevin Lowe recently took in his fourth straight Lightning game, this time in the presence of the Bolts director of player personnel, Jim Hammett. The report suggested the Oilers could be in the market for a defenseman with NHL experience, of which the Lightning have nine.

A report in the Ottawa Sun, meanwhile, claimed Lightning GM Brian Lawton was trying to move blueliner Andrej Meszaros, but might find few takers for his $4 million average salary.

If Lowe was scouting Lightning defensemen, it’s doubtful he has interest in Meszaros given his salary and the Oilers’ lack of cap space. A more affordable option is Lukas Krajicek ($1.45 million), who’s been a fixture in the Lightning rumor mill for some time.

• The Washington Capitals recent attempt to drum up interest in Michael Nylander appears to have been for naught.

Nylander was sent to the American League’s Grand Rapids Griffins on a two-week conditioning stint where it was hoped his performance would either bolster his value on the trade market or as a loaner to a European team.

Nothing came to pass and the club had to recall him, but he was recently placed on waivers, a move seen as a precursor to a loan to a European team or perhaps demotion to the minors, provided Nylander is willing to waive his no-movement clause to facilitate such a move.

Playing in the minors is probably not something Nylander would prefer, but if there’s no NHL or European teams interested in him, the AHL might be his best bet. At least there a strong performance for a longer period might attract more interest from rival teams.

Rumor Roundup appears Mondays and Thursdays only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Foxsports.com and Eishockey Magazine.

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