tampabay.com

Lightning, agent talks on Lecavalier deal set

By BRANT JAMES
Published August 12, 2005


The representative for Lightning restricted free agent Vinny Lecavalier expects to resume contract negotiations today or early next week with general manager Jay Feaster.

Lecavalier, a 25-year-old center, had 32 goals and 66 points in 2003-04 and could become an unrestricted free agent next season under the new collective-bargaining agreement because he has been in the league eight seasons. He has made it clear he wants to sign a long-term deal here, however. Agent Kent Hughes said the parties have settled much of what a one-year contract would look like if a long-term deal cannot be settled immediately.

"We really haven't rolled up our sleeves yet on the long-term deal," Hughes said. "We kind of talked about certain parameters or terms, but aren't into the nuts and bolts. But we're both committed to working it out."

Lecavalier has expressed a willingness to offer a home team discount to keep the Lightning core together. The remaining parts are himself and restricted free agent Martin St. Louis. Lecavalier would have earned $4.6-million last season if not for the lockout.

Center Joe Thornton, a 26-year-old restricted free agent who had 23 goals and 73 points in 2003-04, on Thursday signed a three-year, $20-million deal to remain in Boston.

"I think Vinny is prepared to take less than what is perhaps fair market value if he wanted to be a free agent next year," Hughes said. "He is prepared to take less to stay in Tampa and try to win one or more additional (Stanley) Cups."

It's not necessarily disappointing for an agent to hear a player express such feelings, Hughes said.

"Players perform better when they're happy," he said. "It's not like saying, "I'll come and play for a million dollars.' "