Vincent Lecavalier's new deal with the Tampa Bay Lightning will carry him close to his 40th birthday.
The 28-year-old franchise centre signed an 11-year, $85-million contract extension with the Lightning that will kick in for the 2009-2010 season and run through the 2019-2020 campaign.
''Not only is Vincent one of the most dynamic players in the NHL, he's one of the classiest people you'll ever meet off the ice as well,'' vice president of hockey operations Brian Lawton said in a statement.''With this deal our ownership has made it clear that he is the cornerstone of the Lightning, and Vincent has shown his dedication to the franchise and the Tampa Bay area by signing for less than he undoubtedly would've received on the open market. This is a great day for all Lightning fans.''
Lecavalier will earn $10-million per season in salary and bonuses for the first six seasons of the deal, before dropping to $8.5-million in 2016-2017, $4-million in 2017-2018, $1.5-million in 2018-2019 and $1-million and 2019-2020.
''I'm proud and honored to be committing myself to the Tampa Bay Lightning for the rest of my NHL career,'' Lecavalier said. ''It's no secret how I feel about the organization, the fans and the Tampa Bay community, and there's no place else I'd rather be. Combine that with the enthusiasm and commitment to winning that has been shown by owners Oren Koules and Len Barrie, and signing this long-term deal was an easy decision.''
The declining value in the final years makes it much more palatable to the Lightning if Lecavalier should choose to retire at some point in one of those later years of the deal, but it also serves to lower the average cost of the contract for salary cap purposes.
That means Lecavalier could, for example, play the first seven years of the deal and earn an average of nearly $9.7-million per season, though the cap hit for the contract will be approximately $7.72-million. The other side of the coin, however, is that the cap hit would still be $7.72-million when the season salary drops in the final years of the new deal.