LIGHTNING RE-SIGN CENTER VINCENT LECAVALIER
The 2004 Stanley Cup Champion Tampa Bay Lightning have re-signed restricted free agent center Vincent Lecavalier to a four-year contract, Executive Vice President & General Manager Jay Feaster announced today. In accordance with club policy, financial terms of the contract were not disclosed.
Lecavalier, 25, has played all six of his NHL seasons in Tampa Bay after being drafted first overall by the Lightning in 1998, recording 146 goals and 327 points in 467 games. In the 2004 playoffs, the 6-foot-4, 207-pound native of Ile Bizard, Quebec, tallied nine goals and 16 points in 23 games as the Lightning captured their first Stanley Cup. Lecavalier followed up his playoff performance by being named MVP of the 2004 World Cup as Canada captured the title.
"This signing is absolutely huge for the Lightning franchise," Feaster said. "When we saw the new CBA and realized that our former No. 1 overall pick - a player we drafted, developed, nurtured, laughed, cried, fought and won a Stanley Cup with - might become an unrestricted free agent in the Summer of 2006, we were devastated. We have grown together with Vinny over the past seven years, and we are confident that, given his age and his maturation and development, he will only continue to improve and become even more productive and more of a complete, all-around player for this franchise.
"With Vinny, the sky really is the limit. At the same time, it speaks volumes about how far we have come together and how bright our respective futures are that, given the opportunity to test the unrestricted market next summer at an unprecedented young age, Vinny chose to stay in Tampa Bay and take another run at not just repeating as champions, but at winning multiple Cups. This is a great day for our fans and our organization."
Lecavalier currently owns Tampa Bay franchise records in points (327), goals (146) and game-winning goals (20). He needs to score two power-play goals to surpass Brian Bradley (37) for the franchise mark, and he needs to play nine games to surpass Rob Zamuner (475) for most games played in a Lightning uniform. He also ranks near the top of the franchise list in assists (third, 181) and short-handed goals (sixth, 4).
In addition to the 2004 World Cup, Lecavalier has skated for Canada at the 1998 World Junior Championships and the 2001 World Championships, and he's currently participating in Team Canada's Olympic team evaluation camp in British Columbia. Prior to being selected by the Lightning, Lecavalier played two seasons with Rimouski of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, being chosen as QMJHL and CHL Rookie of the Year in 1997 and being named a QMJHL and CHL First Team All-Star in 1998.
He played 30 games for AK Bars Kazan in Russia in 2004-05, tallying seven goals, 16 points and 78 penalty minutes.