The Tampa Bay Lightning are parting ways with their longest-serving player, as the club will buy out the rest of Vincent Lecavalier's 11-year, $85 million contract.
"Vinny has been a significant reason for many of our past successes, including the 2004 Stanley Cup, and his contributions to the community are immeasurable," said general Steve Yzerman in a statement on Thursday. "The Lightning organization is indebted to Vinny; we thank him for all he has done here and we wish him well as he moves forward.
"After much internal deliberation, we believe this will prove to be a pivotal move for us as we strive to achieve our long term goal of competing at the highest level, year-in, year-out. The economics and structure of the CBA are necessitating this decision and we at the Lightning are excited at the newly created opportunities this presents to us."
A compliance buyout of the the deal - paying out a total of $32.67 million - rids the Lightning of a $7.727 million salary cap hit through the 2019-20 season.
Lecavelier's agent Kent Hughes was a guest on The Montreal Forum on TSN 690 Radio and said he spoke to Lightning management about his client's situation.
"We understood that his contract and its structure - its cap number - were problematic for the Lightning," said Hughes. "I spoke with Steve Yzerman when the season ended and said to him that I didn't want to go through the next few months pretending that we don't see or acknowledge that this may be an issue. We acknowledge it; we don't want you to ignore it. Just let us know and the more informed we are the better the process will be if that's the decision that you take."
Lecavalier, 33, had 10 goals and 22 assists in 39 games last season.
He spent his entire 15-year NHL career with the Lightning, scoring 383 goals and 874 points in 1,037 regular season games and helped lead the Lightning to their first-ever Stanley Cup victory in 2004.