Off the hook
Tampa GM finding there's plenty of interest in LecavalierPosted: Tuesday December 04, 2001 11:20 AM
By Bruce Garrioch, SLAM! Sports
But he's not going to give him away.
While Dudley maintains he's not "shopping" the 21-year-old, he told a Tampa newspaper yesterday he has held talks with several teams and will make a trade if he feels it can improve the team.
Sources say Dudley has talked to as many as 10 teams because Lecavalier's agent Kent Hughes has twice asked for his client to be traded.
"All I want to say is that I have listened to people. Have I made offers to people? No," said Dudley. "Anything that has been said to me about Vinny Lecavalier, it's going to take a heck of a lot more than that. It will have to be a monumental deal for it to happen."
It's believed Philadelphia, Detroit, Los Angeles, Colorado, St. Louis, Edmonton, New York Rangers and Senators have talked to Dudley.
There is talk if the Senators want Lecavalier they're going to have to give up center Radek Bonk and defenceman Chris Phillips. Dudley would likely ask for winger Martin Havlat, but that won't happen.
Though Dudley doesn't want this soap opera to become a distraction to his team, the list of those interested is growing daily. The Montreal Canadiens, who have lost forward Donald Audette for the season, have been added to the list.
Sources say the Habs are aggressively pursuing Lecavalier because they thought about making him an offer before he signed a four-year, $10.2-million contract in the summer. But they're a dark horse in the sweepstakes, with little to give up in a trade.
"If you've got an opportunity to get a player like this you don't want to pass up on it," said an NHL executive yesterday.
"We're talking about a kid here with special talents and one that's going to be a star in this league."
An interesting dance partner is the Flyers.
They are deep at center, but GM Bob Clarke doesn't want anybody else to acquire Lecavalier and that's a big reason why Philly has jumped into the mix.
It's believed the Lightning covet winger Simon Gagne, however, Clarke isn't ready to make that kind of move. The names of wingers Jan Hlavac and Justin Williams have been mentioned in talks about the Flyers.
For his part, Lecavalier, who is at loggerheads with Tampa coach John Tortorella, is trying not to concern himself with a possible move. Sources say if there's no deal by the weekend, then there likely won't be.
"It's in the back of my head because I hear so much about it, but I'm not going to let it distract me. The most important thing for me is to play well and help the team," said Lecavalier.