Did Steve Yzerman Almost Trade Vincent Lecavalier… For Vincent Lecavalier?

Earlier today, the New York Post reported that Lightning G.M. Steve Yzerman and Maple

Apr 14, 2013; Buffalo, NY, USA; Tampa Bay Lightning center Vincent Lecavalier (4) during the game against the Buffalo Sabres at the First Niagara Center. Sabres beat the Lightning 3-1. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

Leaf G.M. Dave Nonis tried to work out a trade that would essentially amount to Vincent Lecavalier and a prospect for Vincent Lecavalier.

Allow me to explain. As the story goes, Yzerman went to his partner in crime (Nonis) and offered to send Lecavalier and a prospect to Toronto. In return, Toronto would buy out Lecavalier’s hulking contract, costing them $30 million over 14 years, leaving Yzerman free to sign Lecavalier to a much more modest deal.

Essentially, Yzerman and Nonis were trying to wiggle through a C.B.A. loophole. Under the new C.B.A., teams are not allowed to sign a player they’ve bought out for a full year. But there are no such rules about signing a player back after another team has bought him out.

Or at least there wasn’t any such rule. Earlier today an e-mail was sent league-wide from the N.H.L. that such framework for a deal would circumvent the C.B.A., and thus the loophole was closed. Meanwhile, Billy Daly, sort of a Silvio Dante to Gary Bettman’s Tony Soprano (R.I.P. James Gandolfini), told the Tampa Bay Times via e-mail that the Lecavalier-to-Toronto-to-Tampa Bay deal hadn’t come to the league’s attention.

What this means? If true, it means Yzerman is desperate to get Lecavalier’s contract off the books and he’s trying to get tricky about it. Good for him. It also looks like he’s not crazy about losing his #2 centre and arguably the face of the franchise. Unfortunately, the N.H.L. isn’t about to let us have our cake and eat it too.

Something fun to speculate on: What prospect(s) do you think Yzerman dangled to entice the Leafs into spending $30 million on a player they’d never use?

Topics: Lecavalier, Tampa Bay Lightning, Toronto Maple Leafs

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