Tampa Bay Lightning center Vincent Lecavalier will become an unrestricted free agent after the National Hockey League team said it will buy out the $30 million and seven years left on the four-time All-Star’s contract.
Lecavalier, the No. 1 pick in the 1998 NHL draft, has played his entire 14-year career with the Lightning. He will be free to sign with any other team if he clears buyout waivers on July 5.
The Lightning will pay $30 million of the $45 million on Lecavalier’s contract over the next 14 years, clearing $7.7 million in salary over the next seven seasons, the team said on its website.
“The decision to part ways with Vinny was not made easily,” Lightning General Manager Steve Yzerman said in a statement. “The cap hit created by Vinny’s contract is proving to be prohibitive as we model our roster possibilities for 2013-14 and beyond.”
Lecavalier, 33, is the Lightning’s all-time leader with 1,037 games, 383 goals, 112 power-play goals and 60 game-winning goals.
He has posted 12 consecutive seasons with 20 goals or more, helped the Lightning to the 2004 Stanley Cup title and won the Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy as the league’s leading goal-scorer with 52 in 2006-07.
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